Saturday, July 31, 2004

New Atom feed

Now displays all of each post rather than just a little. Coolbeans.


Apparently it's still popular in some circles. Everyone else is just engaged in a conspiracy. Now, I'm all about conspiracies, like when the AMA decided to change the meaning of the word "conception" so that the new abortifacient drugs could be called contraceptives. However, we have transcripts of the event. Here, we have . . . nothing.

Plus we send people into space and they go places and come back, so there's gotta be soemthing to that.

To continue the argument

Re: why the papacy holds on to Gandolfo

Note: There's probalby only one person on the planet who the title is directed towards

The Nazi deportations of Italy's Jews began in October 1943. Pope Pius ordered churches and convents throughout Italy to shelter Jews, and in Rome itself 155 convents and monasteries sheltered five thousand Jews throughout the German occupation. Pius himself granted sanctuary within the walls of the Vatican, and his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, to countless homeless Jews. Goldhagen's book conspicuously lacks any discussion of Castel Gandolfo, which enjoys a unique place in the annals of Jewish rescue (and Catholic rescuers) during the Holocaust: In no other site in all of Nazi-occupied Europe were as many Jews saved and sheltered for as long a period.

You could look upon it as a useless indulgence at the expense of the poor. Or you could look at the lives the place has saved over the years and wonder how the Church would ever do without it.

From such humble beginnings

GERMAN HISTORIANS have identified the family whose request to Adolf Hitler that their disabled son be "put to sleep" was the catalyst for the Nazi euthanasia programme.

The five-month-old boy, who was given a lethal drug after Hitler sent his own doctor to examine him, has been named as Gerhard Kretschmar, the son of a farm hand.

The case was to provide the rationale for a secret Nazi decree that led to "mercy killings" of almost 300,000 mentally and physically handicapped people. The Kretschmars wanted their son dead but most of the other children were forcibly taken from their parents to be killed.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Satan. Cool.

Q: Is it a heresy to affirm that the devil also forms part of God's plan?

Cardinal Cottier: Satan was created by God as a good angel, because God does not create evil. Everything that comes from the creative hand of God is good. If the devil has become evil, it is by his own culpability. It was he who, by using his freedom badly, made himself evil.

Q: Will there ever be redemption for the devil, as some theologians affirm?

Cardinal Cottier: Let's articulate a premise: Man has fallen into sin because the first sinner, namely the devil, dragged him into his abyss of evil. What does this mean in substance?

The rejection of God is, above all, opposition to the Kingdom of God as Providence's plan for the world. This rejection that stems from the freedom of an altogether spiritual creature as the devil, is a total rejection, irremediable and radical, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church also says.
Under pressure from people who don't believe in the devil, we get a good explanation of exactly what the dood's up to. And how he's not to be trifled with.

If only I had some references I could look this up

Message: 22
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2004 04:15:23 -0000
From: "arxxxxxxx"
Subject: Re: question about prophets

Yes and the ancient Rabbis also knew that according to the prophecy
of the weeks in Daniel the Messiah was due before the destruction of the
Temple in 70 AD. So the Jewish traditions state that the Messiah came but
because that generation were unworthy he was taken up to Heaven and would
return again later. This is some traditions that say it was Messiah son of
Joseph that came and others that it was Messiah son of David. They also
believe that during this Messianic Age that somehow the spiritual presence
of Mashiach ben Joseph is with every Jew but also that in every generation
there are individuals that are the special representatives of this Messiah
ben Joseph that share in his spirit in a special way. These traditions are
very strong among some of the Hassidim and the Lubavitchers believe that
the late Rebbe was the potential Messiah son of Joseph of his generation
and some of them believe he was actually the Messiah son of Joseph and
that he will be resurrected and come back to redeemed the Jews. These
Lubavitchers also believe that the Messiah is God which has horrified
other religious Jews.

What happens when you don't have a family

I know a lot of people might think it's cute he's so devoted to Disney. What I see, however, is a fantasy and a man caught up in it so completely it's taken over his life. It is his religion.

Kinda sad. Orate pro id.

Actor becomes Jewish

Man bites dog?

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Peter Winn, too

Robert George tells Ron Reagan to go take a flying leap

This was not, however, the low point of Ron Reagan's speech. What was most shameful about it was his dishonesty in eliding the distinction between human embryonic stem cells and the human embryos that are deliberately killed in the process of stem-cell harvesting. After promising to "do justice to the science," Ron Reagan described the process of obtaining embryonic stem cells in a way that left out the fact that the cloning process he described creates a human embryo which is killed in order to harvest its stem cells. Ordinary listeners who are unfamiliar with cloning technology — and, by the way, Ron Reagan was careful not to use the word "cloning," though that is exactly what he was describing — would be left with the impression that the process generated embryonic stem cells without generating an embryo! Indeed, by ambiguously referring to "these cells," in order to avoid revealing the fact that the cloning process generates a living human embryo which is then deliberately killed, Ron Reagan no doubt left some people with the impression that opponents of embryonic-stem-cell research consider embryonic stem cells, rather than the human embryos from which they are harvested, to be human beings. But this is the very reverse of the truth. No one believes that stem cells — embryonic or otherwise — are human beings. Those of us who oppose embryonic-stem-cell harvesting object to the practice because it necessarily involves the killing of human embryos. And human embryos are nothing other than human beings in the embryonic stage of their natural development. Ron Reagan refuses to face up to this fact. He suggests that it is a matter of "theological belief," when the truth is that it is a plain matter of scientific fact that can be verified by consulting any textbook in human embryology.

From CWNews today

We have an article about the greatest problem in the church being weak priests. As Fr. Buda would say, Amen. I can blame a lot of my orthodoxy on the fact that I never saw a real liturgial abuse growing up and the parish I grew up in, though no model of evangelical activity, was God-centered. I mean, we didn't talk to each other, so I assume it was centered on God (j/k).

We also have an interesting dissection of Life Teen masses. You know, the ones where I cry because of the disrespect and liturgical abuse I didn't grow up with. This is perhaps one of the best dissections of the thing which I have seen:
What if they imparted to their flock the reality that Catholic culture has always emphasized work, worship, and celebration as proper human activities? Entertainment has always been considered at most a diversion: a small portion of life’s events, a bit of piquancy to enhance the main dish. Taken out of proportion, a fascination with entertainment can mask a tendency to boredom and even despair.

Nowadays entertainment is perceived as the goal of life, to the point that parents willingly give their children over to its pursuit. (Maybe they are caught up in the entertainment trap themselves?) In the process, they relinquish their role, which is to guide and admonish, to keep their progeny disciplined for what God may send. In most cases, what God sends is family life for our children. How well prepared to live it will they be if their only formation has been in noise and selfish alienation from others?

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

You gotta be kidding me

This is a technical beta release. Before you decide whether to install this software, it is important to understand that the technical beta release does not have the stability of released Microsoft software.

It doesn't have the stability of released software and this is a bad thing? Someone fill me in on this please.

Stem cells

It will doubtless be replied that those who do not rush to affirm this grotesque exploitation of President Reagan's death in wholesale betrayal of a truth he held dear are "heartless" and that if we only knew what he and his family had endured for the past ten years we would not be so critical. As a matter of fact, I do know what the Reagans have endured. I do not speak as somebody disengaged from the tragedy of Alzheimer's Disease. My mother-in-law is in the final stages of Alzheimer's. We also have had to watch her go far away to a place where we can no longer reach her. We've also had to struggle with the terrible suffering Dad has endured in the struggle to care for "Mamma Bear." We're acutely aware of what a hardship it is for both victim and family alike. But, as Reagan taught us, when the voice of Moloch whispers "Sacrifice your children and for you it will be well" then that voice must be resisted. And nobody would say that more vigorously than my lioness of a mother-in-law — were she still able to speak. Except, of course, Ronald Reagan.

OO on swimware and modesty

Surely some indoctrinated woman will parrot the feminist come-back to my position: "What's next? The burqa?" But the real perspective is this: The burqa and the bikini are polar extremes of the same fundamental error. Both styles of clothing deny the human dignity of the wearer. Virtue is a mean between the extremes. The modest woman, the woman with self-respect, wears neither the ostentatious bikini nor the humiliating burqa. Both the bikini and the burqa deny our Christian belief in the equal spiritual dignity of man and woman. Both manners of dress encourage onlookers to view the woman as subordinate to men in one way or another.

The burqa denies the Christian belief in the equal spiritual dignity of a woman because it obscures her face, which is the gateway to the heart and to the mind. A woman in a burqa is not permitted to publicly manifest the visible features most proper to her nature as a rational and emotive being -- features which are the most proper to her as a human being. (Aristotle, for example, says that no animal has a prosopon, lit., a countenance, but only a man or a woman.)

The bikini likewise denies her equal spiritual dignity because it places primary emphasis on her body, and in such a way that it encourages others to objectify her body as a sexual plaything, not as a temple of Holy Spirit or as a magnificent creature of goodly design. Yes, I really mean a plaything. How so? Everyone who wants to, gets to enjoy it, regardless of their number, often in public, with no more personal involvement than the private satisfaction of one's own frivolous desire. That's a plaything. Indeed, some playthings are more jealously guarded.

Microsoft confuses me

So they don't want to give people access to tech support for products they don't have because what exactly? I mean, how much value am I gonna get from reading about bugs in Office 2003 if I don't have it. Who's even gonna try it?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Fatima clears up some worrysome chaos

Quote of the Day

Jarred (10:19:31 AM): Can I watch some movies on your TV?

Say word

If Kerry believes life begins at conception, then he either has voted consistently against his conscience or, in his moral ordering, perversely places greater weight on not offending some over saving innocent lives. The other possibility is that Kerry is disingenuously pandering to both sides of the abortion issue. None of these choices is encouraging if one hopes for a president with a sound moral compass.

Thought for the day

This is something I hope to write on in a few days and I was just hoping to gain some thoughts on the matter. I know you people read this thing. Alex even just commented. Kudos to Alex! I buy him lunch next time he's in NY.

Wait, I went an entire paragraph without saying my question.

OK, why do we fast before Mass? I mean, I have my own ideas, but I'm pretty sure I need more thoughts on the matter to synthesize anything. I've posted a thread from the CA forums here that has some other people's thoughts. My favorite is
Originally Posted by JimG
Hey, in the REALLY old days, it was fasting from midnight the night before! That's why we had a lot of early Masses!.

Jim, some us remember when the midnight fast included water. Midnight masses were pretty popular too.

Just a thought, something to work on.

Tisha B'Av

from JWR:
Dearest Readers:

Today is Tisha B'Av, Judaism's national day of mourning, which is
commemorated with a 25-hour fast and of which I am current engaging

Having spent much of last night in synagogue, I worked through most
of the night to put together today's issue. I apologize for not
being able to send out the newsletter in its ordinary format.

If it's not too much trouble, PLEASE access today's issue via our
Front Page: (The issue is up to snuff
and a heck of a read!)

As soon as this message is mailed, I will be returning to synagogue
and will be spending most of the day there. Nevertheless, I intend
to have tomorrow's issue out on time and in its regular format.

Let me again thank you -- each and every one of you -- for your
continued readership!

In gratitude and friendship,
Binyamin L. Jolkovsky
Editor in Chief
I think it would be quite good if we all spent a few minuites, hours, whatever, today praying for . . . something relevant. I am praying for personal intentions myself, but I'm sure five minuites and a Bible would give you some good ideas.

What you get when no one has real authority

Authority is not some evil thing that stifles religion or spirituality. It's the only think that keeps it safe. Ora pro nobis, Sanctus Petrus.

Never trust an Austrian

The Austrian bishop whose seminary is at the center of a pornography and homosexuality scandal said in an interview published on Monday that the controversy was overblown.

Bishop Kurt Krenn of St. Polten told the newspaper Neues Volksblatt , "It is portrayed as if we have a giant saga to come to grips with, and that's not the case. What has been found is a student who had done something." A Polish seminarian at the school was arrested by Austrian police this month and charged with distributing child pornography using computers at the seminary. In the course of the investigation, the police also uncovered photos taken by the seminarian that reportedly show priests and seminarians engaged in homosexual activity. Some of those photos were published in Austrian media.
Gay porn? No problem!

Monday, July 26, 2004

Pope Fiction

From our friends at Envoy magazine, we have a discussion of papal myths. Way cool.


The title:Third longest ‘human-chain’ in history sends message to Israel's Sharon — and the world

Mark substitute also comments on forgiveness

Wriggle, mock, sneer, rationalize, distract, divert, misdefine, defy, and whine as we may, Mark 11:25 says what it says: "And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses."

"Anything"--in Greek, and allowing for cultural differences, unique pastoral situations, wind shear, curvature of the earth, and the extremity of our great specialness as Americans--means "Anything". It means "ongoing impenitence". It means murder/suicide bombing. It means 9/11. It means any conceivable sin. Anything.

Likewise, "anybody" means, in Greek, "anybody". This includes Arab terrorists, pervert priests, wicked bishops and comment box denizens whose rhetoric I find repugnant and evil.

"Forgive" means "forgive". Relinquish my desire for their destruction by God. Will their good. Desire to see them in heaven. Hit on the nose the recurring temptation to wish them harm. Hand them over to God whose judgment is mercy and leave them there. When you find yourself taking them back out of God's hands and playing all the inner tape recordings where you tell them off good, successfully plot their destruction and humiliation, or look on in satisfaction as disaster befalls them, stop yourself. Hand them back to God with a plea for mercy for you both. Do the next practical thing.

Forgive does not mean "pretend they are not doing wicked" It does not mean "do nothing while they get away with murder" or "say nothing when they advocate and do evil". It doesn't mean "bend over and take it", "blame yourself", or "pretend your enemy is not your enemy". Forgiveness for a crime and seeking a warrant for the criminal's arrest are not mutually contradictory activities.

How do I do at this? Lousy. I leave a trail of debris behind and I have people in my life who can easily point to all the snotty responses and crushing retorts that I just *had* to get off before I abandoned the fight. But the fact that I suck as the messenger doesn't negate the message. Mark 11:25 says what it says. My task is to conform better to it, not pretend it doesn't exist.

Mark Shea does a little thrashing

"Bible Christians" beware. Anyone who wants to understand Mary a little better, umm, don't beware.


Message: 10
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 05:05:46 -0000
From: "aroxxxxxx"
Subject: Tisha B'Av

Don't forget the fast of Tisha B'Av starts tonight (Monday).
I believe that I commented on the 17th of Tamuz. We have now reached the culmination of our little Lentan fast and it seems a good a time as any to recommend a book that has been sitting on my shelf for two months now but which I will hopefully be able to read soon. It was first published in January, so hopefully I have a highly collectable first printing or something to that effect. It's called Salvation Is from the Jews: The Role of Judaism in Salvation History and is written by a delighftul chap who feels compelled to establish a Catholic theology of being Jewish, something I'm all about. Also recommended for simultanious reading is The Anguish of the Jews, a fine work on antisemitism by a priest who wanted to change the direction of Catholic thought on such matters. A fine history, and very appropriate to the season.

Unfortunately, Davka screwed me out of my Temple software so I can't give you any interesting tidbits today. Sigh.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Why do Catholics like suffering?

Because it feels good.

Dubium:Why do some Catholics seem to have a preoccupation with suffering and death? I sometimes get the impression that Catholics focus more on the suffering of Christ than on His resurrection. The crucifix, the Flagallents (sp?) of the Middle Ages, corporeal mortification, and Gibson's The Passion are a few examples that come to mind of a focus on pain and suffering.

Responsum:My first thought is that when compared to NO emphasis on suffering and death, ANY amount of emphasis is perceived as excessive.
Our culture has the general attitude that suffering has no value whatsoever and is to be feared, avoided and ashamed of.
Protestants in general have a very deficient theology when it comes to the concept of redemptive suffering; the teaching that to be a follower of Jesus one must pick up their cross every day and follow him, and that we all participate in some mysterious but secondary way to Christs' suffering (Colossians 1:24). To illustrate, I would challenge anyone to find a Protestant book or a sermon that presents suffering as either a character building test, or, among pentecostals, as a lack of faith.

Difficilisne cognoscere verba latina?

I have to say, it doesn't seem so hard to me! I mean, I've never really tried to learn another language besides Hebrew and work on that is going slowly, but if you just get into the swing of things, I'd imagine it's harder not to learn a language. Now this is a man that's more in my league:
Yes, Latin is difficult. So is Greek! You think thats hard, you should have to learn Old Slavonic (it uses the Cyrilic alphabet, as in Russian). Used in the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Yes, I've attended Mass in Italy, and could understand the Latin Mass. I have 4years +. I don't undersand why Americans can't learn another language.
I'm upset the only language I've learned so far is Latin. Not terribly useful unless you're a Cath-o-lick, really.

On the plus side, my Hebrew grammar software has arrived. Yay! Now I just have to learn this, buy some more software, learn vocabulary, find someone to talk to, and next thing you know I'll be fluent. Yeah. Prayers are appreciated.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Fallout from the withdrawal by Arroyo

When you give crooks what they want, they don't leave, they come back for more. If you worry more about your own interests than everyone's interests, you just get yourself into a little WWII scenario when no one's willing to act for fear of retaliation even though the little madman doesn't have any power of his own.

The dilemma is, of course, we also have a rather imperative command to save innocent life. You can't let people just die like that. Two conflicting imperatives. I suppose you could say more people will die if you pull out, but the ends do not justify the means. I would ask a theologan, but the answer depends on who you ask.

As usual, no easy answers.


For all those who think this:
“For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain.”
we now have a response, thanks to JP Holding, that gives us useful information like this:
José de Acosta, S.J. (Spanish: 1540-1600) is called the Pliny of the New World because of his book Natural and Moral History of the Indies which provided the first detailed description of the geography and culture of Latin America, Aztec history and - of all things - the uses of coca. For his work on altitude sickness in the Andes he is listed as one of the pioneers of modern aeronautical medicine. José was far ahead of his time in the selection and description of his observations. Not satisfied, however, with mere descriptions, he tried to explain causes. José was one of the earliest geophysicists, having been among the first to observe, record and analyze earthquakes, volcanoes, tides, currents, magnetic declinations and meteorological phenomena.
To quote someone whose name I forgot, people don't realize that all this obsession with science and the claims that it can answer all questions have a fundamentally Judaeo-Christian basis to them. There have been cultures with great math, great writing, great military might . . . but no science, because their religions didn't tell them that the universe was at a fundamental level understandable and reasonable, which is, I think, a metaphysical statement that must lie at the center of any Christian idea of existance. It is only because of the Church and her relatives that science even has a place in our society, and to accuse the same institution which funded the Renaissance of having a "malfunctional brain" is kinda irregular.

Bad news in Kenya, however

In recent years Kenya has been exporting maize to neighboring countries, especially the countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have been badly hit by famine. But this year a shortage is spreading in Kenya itself. The problem had also been worsened after, some of the country‚s stored corn was found to be contaminated with a toxic fungus, known as afflotoxin B1 , that caused the death of about 100 people in June.
If I may recommend it, this is a perfect time to find your nearest international/domestic charity and send them a bundle of cash. We have enough money to feed everyone in the world, we just don't. That may be maxamizing our earthly utility, but if we use a spiritual utility function, I think you'll find that we're not actually at a maximum but only at a saddle point, as Prof. Cao would say.

Ooh! Rome is acting!

During an apostolic visitation of his St. Pölten diocese, the embattled Bishop Kurt Krenn has been ordered to refrain from public statements, and to obtain approval of the Vatican's investigator, Bishop Klaus Kung, for any significant pastoral decisions, Austrian media reports have disclosed.

The restrictions on Bishop Krenn will remain in place for the length of the apostolic visitation-- which, according to a spokesman for Vienna's Cardinal Christoph Schønborn, is expected to last 6-8 weeks.

Arriving in the St. Pölten diocese this week to begin his visitation, Bishop Kung began by questioning diocesan officials about the scandal in the seminary, where police discovered an enormous collection of pornography and photos of seminary staff in homosexual embraces with students. Bishop Kung, who was assigned by Pope John Paul to conduct the visitation, has said that his goal is simply to clarify the facts surrounding the scandal, and report to Rome.
This is coolbeans. Hopefully Kung will blow the place open and clean shop, opening a path for the Swiss Guards to go in and poke everyone who refuses to sign off on a statement of orthodoxy . . . or something lik ethat.

Friday, July 23, 2004


Welcome to Humor Vault's Religion Jokes
Souly Devoted to St. Peter, Moses, the Pope, the Rabbi...
Great stuff.

A little econ lesson

Wal-Mart is only the latest in a long series of employers who have been hit with charges of discrimination on the basis of statistical differences among members of their workforce — differences between women and men in this case.

Back during the 1980s a similar charge was brought against Sears, even though no one could find a single woman in all the hundreds of Sears stores who had been discriminated against — just numbers that were different as between women and men.

When you broke down the numbers, it turned out that women were not equally represented among people who sold automotive equipment or construction materials. It also turned out that many women had no interest in selling automotive equipment or construction materials, and had turned down opportunities to do so.
As they teach us in econ, any business that is actually discriminating on any unimportant characteristic will soon be run out of business becaues of the amount of money it will cost them. As we learned in first grade, boys and girls are different and want different things from life. Put the two of them together and what do you get? A federal lawsuit.

Dems waking up?

The political season begins in earnest next week, when the Democratic National Convention gets under way in Boston. As usual, the politics of abortion and other moral issues will take center stage, as delegations take their seats.

Inside the convention hall, the buzz is likely to focus on the fact that pro-life Democrats may actually get a chance to address the convention this time around.
. . .
In 1992, Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey, a pro-life Democrat, asked for time to address the convention.

"He was thrown out of the place," Schwarz recalled. "We had the door slammed in our face, and to add insult to injury, they brought in a panel of Republicans from Pennsylvania to talk about how good abortion was!"

"What a gross insult! (Casey) won (for the Democrats) the biggest plurality in Pennsylvania history, and two years later he was treated like he was no better than a Ku Kluxer."
Still, they have the link to CFFC up, which is kind of insulting. I wouldn't really like a website that linked to the KKK either.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

PETA looses a little more credibility

From the factory farm to your plate, animals go through the same process that the Nazis put Jews and others through during the Holocaust.Right. Except the NAZIS DID THIS TO PEOPLE AND CHICKENS NO MATTER HOW CUTE AREN'T PEOPLE. That doesn't make it ok. But THERE'S A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MURDERING A CONTINENT AND KILLING CHICKENS.

Cool site in Latin

Liturgia horarum

Why is that?

Beginning with New York Governor Mario Cuomo, literally hundreds of local, state and federal Catholic executives and lawmakers have said that they are personally opposed to abortion, but are nonetheless obliged to take a pro-abortion position. Cuomo's attempt to carve out a middle ground on this issue, however, was no more successful in 1984 than it has proved to be today for presidential hopeful John Kerry. Indeed, it's a minefield ready to explode.

Consider that when Cuomo was governor, he vetoed legislation that allowed for capital punishment because he said he was personally opposed to the death penalty. Now listen to what Kerry said on May 17 when asked why he is opposed to same-sex marriage: "I personally believe that marriage is between a man and a woman."

So why is it that their personal belief was also their public position on the issues of capital punishment and gay marriage, but not abortion? Put differently, both Cuomo and Kerry do not believe that their opposition to these behaviors creates a church and state dilemma, even though their personal beliefs coincide with the beliefs of the Catholic Church. Yet when it comes to abortion, their positions collapse: now they feel compelled to go against their personal beliefs for fear of imposing the teachings of the Catholic Church.

This begs the question: Why is it acceptable for a Catholic politician to ratify the Church's teaching on the death penalty and marriage but not abortion? Alternatively, why is it possible to avoid a church-state dilemma when voting to affirm the Church's teaching on one public policy issue, but not another?
It's time that Catholic pro-abortion politicians stopped with the dishonesty. This is not a partisan issue. For example, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, as well as current New York Governor George Pataki, both Republicans, are in favor of legalizing partial-birth abortion. So are the two Massachusetts Senators, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, both of whom are Democrats. All of these Catholics are creating a straw man, and they know it.

Here is how the Catholic League explained its position to the media: "As long as the issue is a public policy concern, and not a peculiarly sectarian interest (e.g. dietary laws), lawmakers of faith can easily reconcile their personal beliefs—grounded in an informed religious conscience—with the votes they cast. Thus, the mere invocation of a church and state dilemma does not reflexively settle the issue. What may be at play is pure politics, having nothing to do with any alleged constitutional question."

Pope John Paul II, not surprisingly, has said it best: the Catholic Church is not seeking to impose anything; rather, our goal is to propose. And that is something we are not only allowed to do, it is something we are obliged to do.

It's reassuring to know that I know people who, you know, think

Wednesday, July 21, 2004


"I answer to the Holy See, I don't answer to the USCCB."
-- Bishop Vasa

What about Salvation and the Jews?

Recently, an article by E. Michael Jones in the February 2004 edition of his magazine, Culture Wars, came to our attention. What begins as a review of Roy Schoeman's book, Salvation Is From the Jews, ends up as an anti-Semitic rant playing fast and loose with Catholic theology. It should be unequivocally condemned.Word.

Polygamy: Why it's like divorce

Polygamy counts as one of those acts in the hierarchy of morals that has been reckoned at times to be a "necessary evil" -- not meaning, as McKinsey says, that God changes his mind about what is moral, but that what is moral may be superseded by what is moral on other grounds. To use the classic example, lying is wrong unless you have Jews in your cellar. Then lying becomes a moral imperative.
Well, I tend to disagree that that would be lying, because that specific example is, I think, a loaded question of sorts. They don't have the right to know, so you don't have to tell them. At any rate, polygamy does seem to fall into this category, though I'm not sure how. Perhaps it's like the Eastern Orthodox "divorce" and those danged Jewish "bills of divorce" and stuff like that which I never understood.

I've heard that one before . . .

There were many American casualties in post-war Germany. Some were due to the actions of the Nazi guerilla units known as Werewolves. Some were the usual amount of casualties incurred by military units during normal operations. Casualties from accident and crime is one very important aspect of the casualty figures from Iraq that is omitted by the media in their zeal to portray this war as a horror is the casualties not related to the war.

Criminal behavior, including vandalism, theft, and rape, occurred at epidemic levels in Germany. Despite former Vice President Gore’s contention that the criminal behavior of some Americans in Iraq is directly the result of George Bush’s policies – criminality by military forces is not unusual. In fact, I have written about the increases in crime in post-war societies for an academic journal.

Just as the conduct of American troops in Iraq is comparable to their counterparts in World War II Germany so is the conduct of the media. The modern media’s vitriolic condemnation is nothing new. In January 1946, the New York Times editorialized that the U.S. zone was far worse than the Soviet controlled zone and that "every newspaper dispatch coming from [Germany] is a further recital of what must be considered a failure."

The Times was not alone in its invective. Colliers in October 1946 wrote an article called, "Failure in Germany," and how this an article by Edward Morgan entitled, "Heels Among Heroes."

John Dos Passos, a communist, wrote in Life magazine in January 1946, "Americans Are Losing the Victory…. Never has American prestige in Europe been lower,” a phrase oft repeated by former Vice President Al Gore when speaking about Iraq.

So true

Put down that lawnmower!

Or, the Pope tells people to make Sunday a holy day. I've come further than I was, but I still have a long way to go before I reach Jewish levels of observance. I guess a noncooperative family somewhat is an issue, as I was able to be more isolated and whatnot when I stayed at school for Sundays last year. Hmm. I guess I'll try more of that this year. That wasn't so hard, was it?

Law of the Day

Godwin's Law prov. [Usenet] "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress. Godwin's Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups. However there is also a widely- recognized codicil that any intentional triggering of Godwin's Law in order to invoke its thread-ending effects will be unsuccessful.

Thanks to Infoworld's Chad Dickenrson for the link.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

CFFC and eggs in faces


July 20, 2004 Volume 1, Number 50

Belgian Cardinal Calls Pro-Abortion “Catholic” Group Deplorable

Efforts by “Catholics” for a Free Choice at making Cardinal Godfried
Danneels into a symbolic figure for their pro-condom campaign were
thwarted when the Belgian prelate strongly rebuked the dissident group’s
attempt at making him a spokesman for their cause.

In late June “Catholics” for a Free Choice (CFFC) called on Catholics
and other Christians to send letters of support to Cardinal Danneels. The
letters praised Cardinal Danneels, archbishop of Brussels-Mechelen, for
comments he made in January that seemed to promote using condoms to
prevent AIDS. In an interview on a Dutch Catholic television station,
Daneels said a person with AIDS ought to abstain from sex but if such a
person decides to have sex there is a moral obligation to use a condom.

The televised statement put Cardinal Danneels at odds with the
Vatican’s teaching and CFFC thought it could exploit the perceived rift.
They sent a letter thanking him for his comments and asked him to lead a
campaign against Catholic Church leaders who uphold Church teaching on the
immorality of condom use. Cardinal Danneels rebuffed CFFC’s advances
calling the organization “deplorable.” He said his comments were misused
by CFFC to serve its own objectives. The Cardinal also said the only
long-term solution to ending the spread of AIDS is a moral education that
teaches chastity and fidelity to one’s husband or wife.

The letter to Cardinal Danneels was part of larger campaign sponsored
by CFFC called Condoms4Life. According to their website Condoms4Life was
begun in 2001 as an “unprecedented worldwide public education effort to
raise public awareness about the devastating effect of the bishops’ ban on
condoms.” The website encourages visitors to send a letter to Bishop
Wilton Gregory, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, asking
him to “lift the ban on condoms as a moral and humanitarian matter.”

Ads for the campaign have appeared on billboards, subway stations and
newspapers in seven countries including the US, Chili, Mexico and the
Philippines. One ad displays a picture of a couple sitting on a couch in
an embrace with expressions of surprise on their faces. Below the photo
are the words, “Abstinence has a high failure rate.” Another ad features a
close up of two men caressing one another’s cheeks. The text for the ad
reads, “We believe in God. We believe that sex is sacred. We believe in
caring for each other. We believe in using condoms.” Several of the ads
make vulgar comparisons between a bishop’s mitre and a condom. Featured
prominently on each ad is Condoms4Life’s slogan, “Good Catholics Wear

The Cardinal’s rebuff of CFFC is the second major defeat for CFFC in
the month of June. Just two weeks ago the UN General Assembly unanimously
endorsed and expanded the role of the Holy See at the United Nations. For
many years CFFC has sought the ouster of the Catholic Church from its
Observer role at the United Nations. CFFC has run a global campaign for
that purpose and has at various times hired full time staff to direct the
campaign. Not a single nation ever joined the campaign and now the General
Assembly’s action should close the door on the CFFC campaign. So far, the
usually media hungry president of CFFC, Frances Kissling, has remained

Copyright, 2004 --- Culture of Life Foundation.
Permission granted for unlimited use. Credit required.

Ages past

"They had begun to forget: forget their own beginnings and legends, forget what little they had known about the greatness of the world. It was not yet gone, but it was getting buried: the memory of the high and the perilous. But yu cannot teach that sort of thing to a whole people quickly. There wa not time. And anyway you must begin at some point, with some one person." -- Gandalf, Unfinished Tales, p. 345

Mmm, mainline Protestantism

Incredibly, The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) joins the list of religious groups committing evil. In the name of Jesus, it has called for the economic strangulation of Israel. They have equated the Jewish state with South Africa during apartheid and called for a universal divestment from it.

The Presbyterians are the first Christian church to do this, and, ironically, the divestment campaign came the very week that the Roman Catholic Church signed a document equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

It takes a particularly virulent strain of moral idiocy and meanness to single out Israel, not Arafat's Palestinian Authority, or terror-supporting, death-fatwa-issuing Iran, or women-subjugating Saudi Arabia, for condemnation and economic ruin. One of the most decent societies, one of the most liberal democracies in the world, is fighting for its life against Islamic fascists who praise the Holocaust and publicly call for the annihilation of Israel — and the Presbyterian Church calls for strangling Israel!

NY Times link generator

This could be useful for permalinks, if I ever blogged the Times.

St. Therese, the Little Flower

"Being a spiritual child means that we acknowledge our nothingness;
that we expect everything from the good Lord, as a child expects
everything from its father; it means to worry about nothing, not to
build upon fortune; it means to remain little, seeking only to
gather flowers, the flowers of sacrifice, and to offer them to the
good Lord for His pleasure."


I've been reading Unfinished Tales, a collection of Tolkien's work that is, well, unfinished. It's surprisingly good though less deep than the stuff that he was able to finish (duh). To anyone who would read the Silmarillion or The History of Middle Earth sort of stuff, this is a much needed addition.

I really miss the days when I didn't know what was going to happen at the end of LOTR. Surprisingly, though, the tale never gets old when retold. It's kind of like the Bible in that way. No matter how many times I read Moses' speach at the end of Deuteronomy, it still gets to me at a very deep level when he tells the Israelite to choose life. In recognition of the near-canonical status of LOTR (as in, I think it should be added to the bible right after II Chronicles), I've decided to add a link to the Encyclopedia of Arda to my links, for perusal with the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Gloria Eru Illuvatar!

Monday, July 19, 2004

That's true

White Castle also hired a respectable scientist at the University of Michigan to conduct a test of the hamburger's nutritional value. For13 weeks the scientist fed a student nothing but White Castle hamburgers and water. The student was pronounced healthy at the end of the three-month ordeal. In some ways, the experiment never really ended on college campuses.

Of course, there isn't one within 5 miles of my dorm room. Stupid classy neighborhoods. Instead I have to pay 7 bucks for a sandwich.


Today, we hear many people who want to take out religion out of the public square. They want to go against tradition. However, are we better off without religion? We’re better economically and materially, but the human person has gotten weaker. As Dawson said, “As civilization becomes materially richer and more powerful, it becomes spiritually or religiously weaker and poorer.” The secularist might say, “So what if the person is spiritually weaker?” The answer is that the spiritual aspect of man is the most important aspect. Man is a being who wants to “be somebody greater than himself”. This “being somebody” concerns the interior life of man. It is something religious, something which is integral for the human person.

Man is fundamentally a religious being. He is a worshipper. Today, it seems that he worships freedom and progress. It is normal to see that the western world put great emphasis on freedom. The last century was one of the worst, if not, the worst century in history. Man has suffered from one concentration camp to another, from one totalitarian to another, from one war to another. However, when man was finally free from these things at the end of the century, how did he use his freedom? When he can finally go to a church, did he go? When he can finally start a good family, did he make one? The fact is this: when man was free from the disobedience of the fifth commandment, he started to disobey the rest. Communism worshipped the state and the “free man” worshipped himself and his ability to do anything he pleases. Either way it breaks the first commandment; he worshipped a wrong god.

An interesting article on worship

I don't think, however, that it really captures the relation between the Jewish ahd Christian forms and origins, as anyone who's celebrated the Liturgy of St. James would probably say.

Stigmata of the Eye

Beware, the language is foul at times.

Living la vita Domenica

Or, the sacristian is out today so I got to play "church employee" this morning. It was quite enjoyable, but I don't think it points towards involvement with the priesthood, sadly or luckily depending on who you are. It also confused my concentration, trying to pay attention to the Sacrifice but also to make sure there weren't any little kids running in to launch a water baloon attack on the high altar. I guess practice makes perfect, and anything that distracts me at Mass is a good thing.

Say what?

It's true. If nothing distracts me, it's easy to pay attention and be prayerful and all that stuff and who really cares. If things are going crazy, it's more of an effort to pay attention and be prayerful, and if you can pull off the same level of worship in a non-ideal environemnt, you're actually using the distractions to become a more holy person.

Just don't use it as an excuse to leave your cell phone on in church or I kill you.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

NAACP shows again what it's all about

A local NAACP chapter in Macon, Georgia says the national organization has refused to allow it to present a resolution overturning the pro-abortion decision.

Loretta Grier, president of the affiliate, was shocked when she was told by NAACP officials that her resolution was invalid because they claim her group had not properly filed a financial document for her chapter.

"That was absurd," Grier said in response. "I checked with our secretary and she assured me that the report was filed well before the cut off date. Even if resolutions are rejected, they are usually printed for delegates to view. The resolution wasn't even given that due process; I am deeply troubled by all this."


I think I win the "He's Dense" award for least realization applied to a scriptural passage. In church this morning we of course heard this lovely passage from Genesis
The LORD appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre,
as he sat in the entrance of his tent,
while the day was growing hot.
Looking up, Abraham saw three men standing nearby.
And for the first time I was like "Trinity". Not too swift.

Isaiah 42

Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved in whom I delight;
I shall place my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not contend or cry out,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory.
And in his name the Gentiles will hope.

The Contraception Misconception

The United States Supreme Court in the Planned Parenthood vs. Casey decision connected contraception and abortion.
“. . . in some critical respects abortion is of the same character as the decision to use contraception. … For two decades of economic and social development, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.” 1

There is no culture or subculture in the world that has permitted contraception and then has not gone on to permit abortion.2 As acceptance of contraception increases so does acceptance of abortion. Why is this the case? Because at the root of contraception is the notion that a couple can engage in sexual activity and avoid its natural consequences. Couples who unintentionally conceive a child while using contraception are far more likely to resort to abortion than others.

Contraception alters our understanding of human sexuality by changing its purpose. The effects are far reaching and affect the way that we understand relationships, gender roles and the human person.

For anyone who is under the impresison that the Republicans really give a crap about abortion

I really don't know if I'm gonna bother to vote for a President next year. I mean, seriously, the Republicans have had serious control in Washington for nearly 20 years and we have courts, legislators, and executors who are all in favor of this stuff. And I don't like them. So why should I bother?

Saturday, July 17, 2004

My Doom

As I was listening to Anil talk about daemons spawning processes and sysadmins killing them, I thought, "What a great user interface!" Imagine running around with a shotgun blowing away your daemons and processes, never needing to type kill -9 again.


After the defeat of a proposed constitutional amendment to save traditional marriage in the US, Congressman Jim DeMint remarked: "All of us, as Americans, believe that people have a right to live the way they want. But no person, no judge, has a right to redefine our basic institutions."

That sounds reasonable enough. But it's wrong.

We do not, "as Americans," necessarily believe that everyone has the right "to live the way they want." There are limits. Some people want to make their living by robbing banks. But robbing banks is illegal, and no responsible legislator suggests a change in that law.

Senator Sam Brownback, a principal sponsor of the failed amendment, offered a similar thought: "Most Americans believe homosexuals have a right to live as they choose."

But some homosexuals "choose" to live as couples, and argue that the government should give their unions all the benefits of legal marriage. And Senator Brownback's proposal would have made that impossible.

Why does Brownback oppose legal recognition of same-sex marriage? Rather than confronting that question directly, the Kansas lawmaker claimed that the American people "do not believe a small group of activists or a tiny judicial elite have a right to redefine marriage and impose a radical social experiment on our entire society."

But wait. What if a large group of activists-- perhaps even a legislative majority-- sought to redefine marriage? Would it be OK then?

Brownback, DeMint, and most of the other Republican sponsors of the proposed constitutional amendment did their utmost to avoid criticizing homosexual behavior. They confined their arguments to a critique of judicial activism, making the case that such a crucial public-policy issue should not be settled by a few judges. In choosing that rhetorical approach, they opted for an argument that is correct, but not persuasive.

The Republican approach confused two different issues, and gave priority to the less important one. Judicial activism is certainly a legitimate concern. But the assault on marriage is a matter of much greater urgency. By keeping a tight focus on the misdeeds of a few liberal judges, supporters of the amendment conveyed the impression that they are interested solely in procedures, rather than in the substance of the issue.

With few exceptions, the lawmakers who spoke out in support of the amendment did not explain why America should preserve the institution of marriage as it is traditionally understood. Thus they passed up their opportunity to make a more persuasive case against the gay-rights movement.

In the long run, you see, the case for legal recognition of same-sex "marriage" will rise and fall along with the popularity of the gay-rights movement. If we accept the legitimacy of homosexual behavior-- if we fail to uphold the all-important moral and metaphysical distinction between sacramental marriage and homosexual liaison-- then gradually the gay-rights campaign will gain ground, and eventually the drive for legal recognition of same-sex "marriage" will win public acceptance.

At some point in the future, then, it might not be merely a handful of judges who demand legal recognition of homosexual partnerships. It might be a broad popular movement; it might become a majority. And unless there is a compelling argument against recognition of same-sex marriages at that point, there isn't a compelling argument against it today.

In an op-ed column appearing in today's New York Times, Thomas Frank assails Senate conservatives for suggesting that the real problem here is a the scheming of a few liberal judges to rewrite the law. Although Frank is thoroughly partisan, and his argument is mean-spirited, unfortunately he has a point.

It's true that judges shouldn't rewrite the law. But there's another, larger issue involved in the definition of marriage. When the issue is God's law, no one has the authority to rewrite it. Even if the people's duly elected representatives votes to accept same-sex marriage, it is still an offense against natural law.

Judicial activism is certainly a problem that should be addressed. But the more immediate issue is the definition of marriage. We won't win that argument on procedural grounds. If we can't convince the American people that same-sex marriage is wrong, we can't expect the public to be too upset when a few judges say it's right.

This is what I'm missing today

The lift shall not be attended by the clan this year b/c we went to too much church in the past two days. Quite tragic. But the pics are cool.

A little anti-Catholicism

I've never experienced such myself, but apparently this is common.
A concrete and very poignant case of anti-Catholicism is that of Linda Portál. Linda is director of The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults program at a parish in Gainesville, Florida. She was raised as a Catholic in Michigan and in college she made the faith “her own.” Sadly, her spiritual journey has been punctuated by anti-Catholicism. In junior high school Linda was kicked out of class by her teacher, who explained, “No one should have to go to school with a Catholic.” At the same school, Linda was often beat up by her classmates. Local custom forbade Catholics to date Protestants. Linda also recalls neighborhoods – suburban ghettoes, as it were – where only Catholics could live. Protestants seeking a house were simply steered past these areas.

Years later, Linda applied for a job at a major electrical company. She learned that she had been hired and would begin working within a few weeks. But after several weeks without a call from the company, she grew anxious. Apparently, a high level executive in the company had been systematically firing all Catholics (approximately twenty) beneath him – and he had quashed Linda’s application before she was officially contracted. Despite all this, Linda views anti-Catholicism an admirable aplomb: she sees it as a pitiable “fear of the unknown” in this, our “predominantly Protestant country.”

Payphones in the Vatican?

Friday, July 16, 2004

Jonathan on time

"Assuming 25 hours a day . . ."


Shea Here. Over on Amy's blog, they're talking about this blog

In the course of it, Rod Dreher asks an extremely common question:

Jesus commands us to forgive, but are we supposed to do that in the absence of repentance?

and the core of the matter is (as is typical) ably summed up by Tom from Disputations.


And he's right. The basic, radical fact of the Christian faith, despite all attempts by our culture to avoid it, is this: "Love your enemies". An enemy is not somebody who means well. An enemy is somebody who, impenitently and with malice aforethought, means ill and chooses to do you harm for the sake of his own selfish purposes. Enemies are not people who goofed, or suffer from poor communication skills. They are people who mean to sin against us and who have not said (and for all we know may never say), "I'm sorry."

Our faith binds us to extend forgiveness to them. And the fact they are impenitent does not give us license to hold on to bitterness toward them or refuse to extend forgiveness. The command is absolute: forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those (everybody, not just the people who have satisfied us emotionally by a serious act of contrition) who trespass against us.

The reasons for this are twofold. First, we aren't God. But second, because we aren't God, our insistence on holding on to unforgiveness (which we call "righteous anger") hurts nobody but ourselves and those around us and, as a general rule, simply gives power to the person who hurts us.

Psychohistory a reality?

They seem confident that we can develop a series of statistical laws that will end in a complete theory of human behavior. The problem, of course, is that even in Asimov's book, psychohistory failed a fairly miserable death when one person, the Mule, decided to change the course of events.

Resurrexit, sicut dixit.

And we have a little background information on its origins

This feast was instituted by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 under the title "Commemoratio B. Marif Virg. duplex" to celebrate the victory of their order over its enemies on obtaining the approbation of its name and constitution from Honorius III on 30 Jan., 1226 (see Colvenerius, "Kal. Mar.", 30 Jan. "Summa Aurea", III, 737). The feast was assigned to 16 July, because on that date in 1251, according to Carmelite traditions, the scapular was given by the Blessed Virgin to St. Simon Stock; it was first approved by Sixtus V in 1587. After Cardinal Bellarmine had examined the Carmelite traditions in 1609, it was declared the patronal feast of the order, and is now celebrated in the Carmelite calendar as a major double of the first class with a vigil and a privileged octave (like the octave of Epiphany, admitting only a double of the first class) under the title "Commemoratio solemnis B.V.M. de Monte Carmelo". By a privilege given by Clement X in 1672, some Carmelite monasteries keep the feast on the Sunday after 16 July, or on some other Sunday in July. In the seventeenth century the feast was adopted by several dioceses in the south of Italy, although its celebration, outside of Carmelite churches, was prohibited in 1628 by a decree contra abusus. On 21 Nov., 1674, however, it was first granted by Clement X to Spain and its colonies, in 1675 to Austria, in 1679 to Portugal and its colonies, and in 1725 to the Papal States of the Church, on 24 Sept., 1726, it was extended to the entire Latin Church by Benedict XIII. The lessons contain the legend of the scapular; the promise of the Sabbatine privilege was inserted into the lessons by Paul V about 1614. The Greeks of southern Italy and the Catholic Chaldeans have adopted this feast of the "Vestment of the Blessed Virgin Mary". The object of the feast is the special predilection of Mary for those who profess themselves her servants by wearing her scapular.

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

A most ancient and holy tradition in my family is to go to East Harlem every year and wander about the ancestral homeland. This year we got there a little before 9 am and watched the end of the 8 am Tridentine Mass. I then stayed through the 9 am Tridentine Mass and the 10 am Mass. At the end, there was a special treat. The statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was brought down from the altar for the first time in 20 years and marched down to the park amid much crying and shouting where a bishop reconsecrated her crown. A most impressive morning.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Bloody St. Patrick

Why exactly is this?
The Irish probably preyed upon women and children as their captives and may have killed many adult males who would put up more resistance in transit. Patrick in his Letter described the young Christian girls whom Corotius's men had dealt out amongst themselves, whilst the other converts presumably men) had been killed. The thousands of prisoners described by Patrick as having been taken prisoner with him are an obvious exaggeration although the Irish must have overpowered the occupants of his estate.
An obvious exaggeration? Were you there?

Perhaps it's just a pet peeve of mine, but I don't like it when people say something is obvious and then don't justify it. Mostly because, it's not obvious to me.

The Western Schism

Oft misunderstood, but it has always amazed me how stupid a bunch of Catholics can act when the going gets tough.
Thus far, therefore, there was not a single objection to or dissatisfaction with the selection of Bartolommeo Prignano, not a protest, no hesitation, and no fear manifested for the future. Unfortunately Pope Urban did not realize the hopes to which his election had given rise. He showed himself whimsical, haughty, suspicious, and sometimes choleric in his relations with the cardinals who had elected him. Too obvious roughness and blameable extravagances seemed to show that his unexpected election had altered his character. St. Catherine of Siena, with supernatural courage, did not hesitate to make him some very well-founded remarks in this respect, nor did she hesitate when there was question of blaming the cardinals in their revolt against the pope whom they had previously elected.
Elect a guy Pope and next thing you know he's acting like he's somebody :-). I always preferred servus servorum Dei as a papal title for this very purpose.

Media bias -- eat it

Sometimes neglected in such studies, however, is which news outlets have the fairest and unfairest political coverage. A recent study by political scientists Tim Groseclose of UCLA and Jeff Milyo of the University of Chicago tried to answer that question in a very innovative way. In their research (PDF original, HTML cache), Groseclose and Milyo declined to analyze the content of each news story but instead looked for how often a news organization quoted 200 particular think tanks as an objective source. But simply looking at think tank citations is hardly a reliable metric, especially if one is going to attempt to place a political label on a research institution. Such attempts can lead to erroneous results such as those arrived at by the liberal group FAIR whose refusal to classify the Brookings Institution (which is run by a former Clinton Administration official and consistently opposes conservative ideas) as a liberal organization led it to conclude that the national media favor conservatives.

To avoid such errors, Groseclose and Milyo declined to ascertain think tanks' ideologies and instead took their media numbers and compared them to how often members of the U.S. House and Senate cited the same 200 think tanks by matching up media outlets with members of Congress with similar tastes in research institutions. Based upon its citation habits, each news organization was given a liberal quotient as if it were a member of congress. The results were fairly unsurprising to savvier media consumers.
A new and possibly more objective metric. I approve highly.


Subject: Re: _Ioudaios_ in the New Testament

Dear Athol,

I'm on the same mushrooms.

> Jesus is not just a reformer of Judaism he is
a transformer that goes outside the boundaries of Judaism into the
Universal and Eternal dimension and then without abolishing anything
he creates a new reality of the union of Jews and Gentiles as his
Mystical Body. He affirms all that is truth and good but goes to a
level beyond what Judaism has attained before and which it cannot
attain while it remains veiled…<

Judaism anticipates what you describe, a Messiah who will reveal a
new dimension of Torah and therefore a new dimension of life, a
transformation, and that the Gentile nations will be caught up into
it, but that it cannot be comprehended in anticipation because
comprehension of that level only comes with him.

It does only come with Him. True. They are right.

It could be said, then that both share the same whatness, as it were. The fifth sense of Torah is all that is revealed, and it does everything that it's supposed to do. It just also does some things that are, shall we say, unanticipated.

A stand on principle

Subject: Re: Jim Clymer for US Senate in PA

As I said, I am NOT going to vote for Spector or Hoeffel. I will not
be voting, because there is no candidate running who takes a
consistent stand on even just the issues I consider matters of basic
human rights. (Spector actually manages to take a fairly consistent
stand *against* human rights).


Today is the day of St. Bonaventure

Doctor of the Church, Cardinal-Bishop of Albano, Minister General of the Friars Minor, born at Bagnorea in the vicinity of Viterbo in 1221; died at Lyons, 16 July, 1274.
A most holy man, it seems, though I was never a tremendous fan of the OFM (don't tell the friars!). Too much chaos, too few Dominicans. I have always admired, however, St. Francis. Perhaps it's the whole wandering the world and preaching the Gospel with actions moreso than words that holds my mind, I'm not sure really. But there's something quite beautiful about his life, and he has caught the imagination of many I know. Orate pro nobis, Sancti.

UPDATE on the Saint

This is a little scary

\Writing for the liberal magazine The American Prospect, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich calls for a war against conservative religious believers. "The great conflict of the 21st century will not be between the West and terrorism. Terrorism is a tactic, not a belief," he writes.

The true battle will be between modern civilization and anti-modernists; between those who believe in the primacy of the individual and those who believe that human beings owe their allegiance and identity to a higher authority; between those who give priority to life in this world and those who believe that human life is mere preparation for an existence beyond life; between those who believe in science, reason, and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through Scripture and religious dogma.
This would be the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night, except Christ was kind enough to tell us that this is exactly what's supposed to be going on.
Mark 13:
5 And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:
6 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
7 And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.
8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.
9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.
10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.
13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
So at least things are going according to plan. That's good, right?

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Waste of time

More recently, I see evidence of the same malaise by comparing the older game show, Jeopardy, with its newer rival, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (WWBM). Both shows are entertaining, albeit for different reasons. Jeopardy is entertaining because it showcases people genuinely knowledgeable in a wide range of subjects. Money is won or lost with the unimpressive squeeze of a thumb. Jeopardy is filmed in a relatively austere studio. Even when contestants go for broke in Final Jeopardy, they wager under dim lights to a tune as soothing as any lullaby.

In contrast, WWBM showcases people of genuinely less astounding acumen. Contestants play for much higher stakes in a much more dazzling studio, complete with intricate loopholes, interactive helps from the audience, hot whirling lamps and music robust enough to bring a tear to John Phillip Sousa’s eye. At bottom, WWBM is not a trivia show, but a televised gambling session. The allure of WWBM is not how much a contestant knows but how much he or she risks. To our delight, and to our shame, WWBM is infinitely more entertaining than it is enlightening.

The “Enternet” and shows like WWBM are the natural outgrowths of our thrill-crazed society. Much of the world recognizes our capitalistic perversity. For example, while I was enjoying a bus tour through Paris a few years ago with classmates, the tour guide drew our attention to the U.S. Embassy. We looked where she pointed but saw no embassy building. In truth, she was letting us in on a common Parisian joke: she was pointing to a McDonald’s restaurant, the “American embassy.”

This derision, albeit a trifle hypocritical coming from a European, is justified considering the Western world (i.e., the USA and Europe) annually spends $21 billion on perfumes, $28 billion on pet care, $45 billion on movies and a whoppering $110 billion on fast-food. Yet, according to some economists, every living human could have clean water, adequate food, shelter and a basic education for $40 billion per year. Further, according to Sojourners Magazine (May-June 2002, p. 17), one-fifth of USAmericans’ food ends up in landfills – enough food to feed 49 million people. Something is rotten in Denmark, indeed.

AA on cultural change

What once was cool is now despised. It used to be cool to be drunk, now it's unacceptable. It used to be cool to smoke cigarettes, now it's unacceptable. It's not cool to be sexually irresponsible and kill the consequences. One day, it will be unacceptable.

Scrappleface's honesty

Rejecting a call from Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to resign from the U.S. Senate, John Forbes Kerry today said that missing 87 percent. of Senate votes in 2004 has "not diminished my effectiveness in the least."

"If you examine my 16-year record in the Senate, you'll see that I'm just as effective when I'm not there as I was when I was there," said Mr. Kerry. "The major legislation on health care, energy and homeland security that I didn't introduce then, I'm not introducing now. The colleagues who I didn't rally to my causes then, remain unrallied. I think it's disingenuous for Gov. Romney to suggest that my absence from the Senate harms America in any way."
Well, there's a statement that I'd agree with.

Some doubt on the 6 person attack story

Doubts are growing about a reported anti-Semitic attack on a woman and her baby that stunned France.
Police have found no evidence or witnesses, four days after the alleged assault took place on a train in the suburbs of Paris.

The 23-year-old woman said six men cut her clothes and drew swastikas on her body, accusing her of being Jewish.

The Linux Documentation Project

For all of your "I can't believe it's not compiling" needs.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The fruit of the Passion

One in six viewers (16 percent) revealed that "The Passion" had affected their religious beliefs. The types of change in belief were related as: an increased awareness of how one's actions affected others; a deeper appreciation for what Christ's suffering and death had wrought for them; and a renewed sense of the importance that one's life decisions and behavior have.

"About 13 million adults changed some aspect of their typical religious behavior because of the movie and about 11 million people altered some pre-existing religious beliefs because of the content of that film," George Barna, director of the research, emphasized. "That's enormous influence," he said.

Unicef shows what it's all about

IE, promoting abortion.

Can you spell really cool?

Design your own!

Moral philosopher misses the point

NQCBSEI comments on his 'condom problem'.

Something Useless from France

Or, how Paris is like New York.
On Sunday, July 11th, Muslim thugs attacked a woman with an infant in a Paris subway. Thinking she was Jewish, they cut her hair, threw her to the ground, and in front of French passengers scrawled a swastika on her belly. The passengers stood by and watched — and did nothing. This incident follows others of similar nature when, for example, just a few weeks ago a 14-year-old boy wearing a yarmulka came out of the Ourq subway station in Paris and was attacked by two Muslims. While yelling at him "dirty Jew," they knocked him down, beat him on the head and broke his nose. The boy begged for help from the French passers-by — fellow citizens — but they simply walked away, did nothing.

At the University Medical School of Saint-Antoine in Paris, four young Muslim men entered a lecture hall yelling "Death to the Jews." They confronted a Jewish student and beat him to a pulp and, like vultures, picked his valuables and robbed him. The lecturing professor said nothing while watching the attack and the entire class of French students remained silent while the thugs simply departed without a care. This, too, happened within the last few months.

Monday, July 12, 2004


Accustomed as we are to hearing about the Catholic Church and Galileo, it isn't often realized or recognized that classical "Reformational" Protestantism, generally speaking, was out and out hostile to the burgeoning scientific discoveries and endeavors of its time. No thoughtful and honest Catholic denies that the Catholic Church, too, had a less than perfect record of positive regard for modern science in its infancy in the 16th and 17th centuries (most notably with the Galileo case - which Pope John Paul II has recently acknowledged). The point of this essay, however, is to show that Protestantism has often, if not always, been guilty of the same shortcomings for which the Catholic Church is constantly harangued. In other words, one should not notice the speck in another's eye while neglecting the "log" in one's own eye! It's high time to balance the "historical scales" a bit on this topic. With that intention, and no malice, the following historical information is offered for reflection:

Will Durant, the noted (non-Catholic) historian, summarized: "Luther rejected the Copernican astronomy . . . Calvin had little use for science; Knox none." (1)
More from the same. As they say in the South, Amen!


How I miss thee!

Fences Schmenses

Or, JWR weighs in with a reasonable article.

David Morrison on gay sex

I swear, it's kosher. And excellent.
If there any single really big thing that Dan and I have learned in a the decade since we last had sex, it is that in the chemistry and physics and metaphysics of this relationship we are what matter. Ourselves. Each of us. I love Dan because he is Dan. Because of the soul he has shown me and let me see grow. Because of his loyalty and compassion and courage. Because he being my friend makes me want to be a better person and a better man than I might be inclined to be otherwise. It is both a sorrow to me and a tribute to his person that he demands, if I feel I must write about him at all, I use a psuedonym. "People don't want to read about me," he says sometimes, "and I don't want to be read about."

On legal opinions, confusing

The Palestinians will fashion the nonbinding ruling from The Hague into a political battering ram, but their greatest victory may lie in the similarities between the international and Israeli rulings. In his opinion, Aharon Barak, the Israeli chief justice, agreed that Israel holds the West Bank "in belligerent occupation" and is therefore subject to international law. The court accepted, moreover, that Israel cannot build barriers on occupied land if their purpose is political or "motivated by the desire to annex territory." It held that Zionist ideology is not an acceptable justification for seizing occupied lands.
Well I'm not the brightest apple in the shed, but IIRC, the reason that land was "seized" was not because of a "Zionist ideaology" but because all the nations around Israel tried to kill every Jew in the country in several wars and they wanted a securable boarder. I could be wrong of course.

I also don't understand exactly how Barak has jurisdiction over the reasons for an action being done. We don't hear "You can hold prisoners forever if you're doing it because they're suspected white supremacists, but not if you suspect they're Arab terrorists". Better not give anyone any ideas.

Furthermore, I don't see why the Times calls for a "negotiated settlement". We have one already, if the bombings would just stop. Oy.

You steal it, you smell it

When his fish cooler came off the luggage carousel in Seattle, he said he found a rope he had tied around the chest inside and his 40 individually wrapped one-pound chunks of halibut gone.

Reached on his cell phone Saturday in Kenmore, Wash., Bolanos told the Anchorage Daily News he had already heard from a Continental official about the rotten fish.

"She was trying to say that maybe the new conveyor chewed off my rope," Bolanos said. "It's not something that was chewed off. It was a clear cut."
I had a bad experience with a bag of rotting fish back in high school when a bunch of punks decided to fish my locker for a prank. Disgusting. Could be contributing to my inability to consume the stuff.

An alternative Hebrew dictionary . . .

With great enteries like
Khappes mi ye'na'a'ne'a ot'kha! literaly means - go search who will jiggle (rock) you! note When you want to tell someone off, or just take them off your back...
Koos ‡ pussy note also used in phrase "Koos ummek", your mother's pussy. From Arabic
I'm so so so glad I found this site. Yup. Wonderful resource.

Deification and You

This is quite a treatment of the doctrine of deification, by which, in the worst way to say it, "man becomes God". This has always worried me because none of it made sense and I didn't have the time to sort everything out. However, CACL, with a combination of biblical insight, German mystics
God must clothe Himself with human nature, must put it on, as in the deification of man the man must put on the form and character of God. In this event humanity is engrafted in a divine person, as in the other case a shoot of divinity is, so to speak, engrafted in man. Both cases are utterly astounding, supernatural, and mysterious: that a human person share in the divine nature, and that a divine person assume a human nature . . .
and common sense, makes me realize that I'm really not a pagan, much to the depression of certain Baptist friends of mine. AND he manages to tie mater Maria in as well for a most impressive and edifying conclusion.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Why predestination gives me headaches

Or, those Lateran II liberals
A. The notion of predestination comprises two essential elements: God's infallible foreknowledge (prœscientia), and His immutable decree (decretum) of eternal happiness. The theologian who, following in the footsteps of the Pelagians, would limit the Divine activity to the eternal foreknowledge and exclude the Divine will, would at once fall into Deism, which asserts that God, having created all things, leaves man and the universe to their fate and refrains from all active interference. Though the purely natural gifts of God, as descent from pious parents, good education, and the providential guidance of man's external career, may also be called effects of predestination, still, strictly speaking, the term implies only those blessings which lie in the supernatural sphere, as sanctifying grace, all actual graces, and among them in particular those which carry with them final perseverance and a happy death. Since in reality only those reach heaven who die in the state of justification or sanctifying grace, all these and only these are numbered among the predestined, strictly so called. From this it follows that we must reckon among them also all children who die in baptismal grace, as well as those adults who, after a life stained with sin, are converted on their death-beds. The same is true of the numerous predestined who, though outside the pale of the true Church of Christ, yet depart from this life in the state of grace as catechumens, Protestants in good faith, schismatics, Jews, Mahommedans, and pagans. Those fortunate Catholics who at the close of a long life are still clothed in their baptismal innocence, or who after many relapses into mortal sin persevere till the end, are not indeed predestined more firmly, but are more signally favoured than the last-named categories of persons.(emphasis added)

A little something on Presbyterianism

For Manix and Jessica, of course. I'm not sure I understand how that's the model the early church was organized on, seeing as on we have letters from the Apostolic period which clearly refer to bishops, but I'm sure there's some explanation.

In related news, Phillipines tells kidnappers to shove it

Lex orbis?

In his first public comments on Friday's non-binding opinion by the U.N.'s top legal body, Sharon said the bombing was carried out "under the auspices of the ruling," suggesting the decision would only encourage Palestinian violence.

"I want to make clear, the state of Israel absolutely rejects the ruling of the International Court of Justice in The Hague (news - web sites)," Sharon said. "It is a one-sided and politically motivated ruling."

In Bangkok, U.N. Security General Kofi Annan (news - web sites) suggested that Israel ought to accept the World Court's ruling despite its security needs.

"While we accept that the government of Israel has the responsibility and duty to protect its citizens, any action it takes has to be in conformity with international law," Annan said.
Can someone explain to me what body of law they are applying to this situation, or what legislature makes it? That's all I ask.


Mt 10:16-23

Jesus said to his Apostles:
"Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves;
so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.
But beware of men,
for they will hand you over to courts
and scourge you in their synagogues,
and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake
as a witness before them and the pagans.
When they hand you over,
do not worry about how you are to speak
or what you are to say.
You will be given at that moment what you are to say.
For it will not be you who speak
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will hand over brother to death,
and the father his child;
children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved.
When they persecute you in one town, flee to another.
Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel
before the Son of Man comes."

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Oh baby

Here's what transpired last nite on AIM
LS (1:56:01 AM): focl
Auto response from Squach (1:56:01 AM): Probably upstairs reading hardcore incest porn. IE Genesis.
LS (1:56:15 AM): i started to gasp as i read your away message, and was about to reprimand you
LS (1:56:21 AM): and then,, focl.. love it

Alex (12:34:41 AM): I tell you, after "and they cleaved as one flesh", it just gets raunchier and raunchier...that Potiphar's wife is a she-devil. Watch out for her.

Apologists gone wild

Pikachu disproves Christianity!
Learn how to tell when someone's full of it!

By their fruits you shall know them

In the NSW Supreme Court on 8 April 2004 Justice Michael Grove ruled that the brain damage of a Sydney girl, Kristy Bruce, a result of her mother's uterine rupture -- was probably caused by a previous abortion. Consequently the girl lost her claim against her mother's obstetrician, Dr. Alan Kaye, for negligence.

Kristy, who is now 15, was born with cerebral palsy. She is confined to a wheelchair and cannot speak. Kristy's mother, Sharon Chevelle, gave birth to the girl at the Royal Hospital for Women, in Sydney's east, on March 21, 1989. Her family sued Dr. Kaye for more than $750,000 for malpractice, claiming he miscalculated her mother's expected due date. As a result, the family claimed, Kristy was born between two-and-a-half and six weeks overdue, causing the placenta to deteriorate, a condition known as "placental insufficiency."

However, the Justice Grove rejected the claim, noting that the after-effect of the mother's abortion was a more likely cause for Kristy's injuries. In his judgement Grove said " .....As Dr. Lyneham (an expert witness) pointed out, the weakness [in the uterine wall] could have been a consequence of a complication in one of Ms. Chevelle's previous abortions or a procedure by dilatation and curettage to remove an intrautrine contraceptive device [such as had been implanted by Dr. Munro after the birth of a previous child]. As Dr. Lyneham comments, it is entirely feasible that at one of these procedures there was an inadvertent perforation of the posterior uterine wall, which at the time did not result in any clinical manifestation. As a matter of hindsight, considerable suspicion must be directed to the very recent termination which Ms. Chevelle underwent just prior to becomeing pregnant with the plaintiff..... As stated a conclusion cannot be reached othr than that there was nothing to suggest that thre was any relevant matter of which the defendant ought to have been aware and reacted to......”

Episcopus ad Iudeos

I have to say, having Bishop Guiron makes me feel a lot safer given what was there before:
One of Sabbah’s central theses is that “just as anti-Semitism and the Holocaust set the context for Jewish-Catholic relations in the West, in the Holy Land the agenda ought to be set by a century of Zionist nationalism, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.” Sabbah says of the Israelis: “In the end, we will send them away just as we did to the crusaders.” The idea is widely held in the patriarchate that the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem in 683 was a “second Pentecost.” One distinguished Israeli leader, Ambassador Gadi Golan, the head of the department of interreligious affairs for the foreign ministry, has called Sabbah “the Islamic patriarch.”

Jesuit Father Francesco Rossi de Gasperis of the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Jerusalem – a friend, contemporary, and teaching colleague of Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini – has written acute analyses on this Arab-Christian theology. He has shown that it leads to a “theological negation of the people of Israel, a kind of cultural and spiritual Shoah, not dissimilar to what was seen in the churches of Europe during the age of ‘Christendom’.”

Friday, July 09, 2004


Lisa (12:02:38 PM): Q: Under law, what is the penalty for bigamy?

A: Two mothers-in-law.

Something useful from France

Remind me never to write software for France, but at least they can write software for us. Though on second thought, product liability does sound like a decent thing.
Plenty of free software licenses exist already, but they are mostly written in English, from the point of view of the U.S. legal system, which can pose a problem in countries where the legal system is based on different assumptions.

The new license, known as CeCILL, is intended to make free software more compatible with French law in two areas where it differs significantly from U.S. law: copyright and product liability.

Bad news

Lisa (10:45:14 AM): they raised the terror alret, what is it at? do you know?
Squach (10:45:30 AM): mauve?

Nothing's happening today

So instead we can read about the teaching of St. Augustine! Optimus!
"The world," says Eucken, "interests him less than" the action of God in the world and especially in ourselves. God and the soul are the only subjects the knowledge Of which ought to fire us with enthusiasm. All knowledge becomes moral, religious knowledge, or rather a moral, religious conviction, an act of faith on the part of man, who gives himself up unreservedly."
I have been often accused myself of not caring about the world and being too "obsessed" with God's will. Well, for me, I'm sure I'm screwing up something important in my life, but this is the model that I'm working towards. The perfection of living a life that's all for God seems too beautiful and too tantalizing to not let it affect everything that I do.
Thus may Augustine's universal influence in all succeeding ages be explained: it is due to combined gifts of heart and mind. Speculative genius alone does not sway the multitude; the Christian world, apart from professional theologians, does not read Thomas Aquinas. On the other hand, without the clear, definite idea of dogma, mysticism founders as soon as reason awakes and discovers the emptiness of metaphors: this is always the fate of vague pietism, whether it recognize Christ or not, whether It be extolled by Schleiermacher, Sabatier, or their disciples. But to Augustine's genius, at once enlightened and ardent, the whole soul is accessible, and the whole Church, both teachers and taught, is permeated by his sentiments and ideas. A. Harnack, more than any other critic, admires and describes Augustine's influence over all the life of Christian people. If Thomas Aquinas is the Doctor of the Schools, Augustine is, according to Harnack, the inspirer and restorer of Christian piety. If Thomas inspires the canons of Trent, Augustine, besides having formed Thomas himself, inspires the inner life of the Church and is the soul of all the great reforms effected within its pale.
The man really does stand as a giant over every other Catholic thinker who has ever lived, and every Catholic who ever lived since the death of the Apostles. I highly recommend reading just about anything that he wrote, starting with, of course, the great "Confessions" which you can find just about anywhere and should be required reading for any human who has a soul. That's everyone btw.

A lot of people I know don't really get it, the sort of love aspect of Augustine's thought. They see a man who has a fear of anything good and an obsession with his sins. The quote with regards to this was a freshman in my Lit Hum class who said that Confessions would be better if you "just took out all that stuff about God." I was speachless. To get what he's talking about, you really have to get God's love. Or more to the point, his system of grace.
The system of St. Augustine in opposition to this rests on three fundamental principles:
God is absolute Master, by His grace, of all the determinations of the will;
man remains free, even under the action of grace;
the reconciliation of these two truths rests on the manner of the Divine government.
Seems irreconcilable? Perhaps. Those smarter than I debate such.

Thursday, July 08, 2004


"If anyone gave you grains of gold, would you not hold on to them with
the greatest of care, taking heed lest you lose any of them? Will you
not therefore be even more careful lest a crumb (of the consecrated bread)
fall from what is more precious than gold and jewels?"

St. Cyril of Jerusalem

New blogger?

I have been trying to acquire Jonathan as a guest blogger so he doesn't have to call me and lay down his diatribes every time he gets an idea. We'll see how that proceeds.



By Maggie Gallagher

It was the TV pictures that first got to Bronagh Cassidy. Same-sex couples
marrying in San Francisco: "They were so proud of themselves. And then
they had these little children with them." Cassidy, a 27-year-old married
mother of two, sighs. "Something inside of me wants to be able to help
those kids, because I know they are going to have problems."

Sound ignorant, maybe even bigoted? This week, as the Senate is expected
to begin debate on a constitutional amendment to protect marriage, many
voices will try to convince you that people like Cassidy are, as Cheryl
Jacque, head of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, put it in a
recent letter, "hate-filled people who will stop at nothing to achieve
their discriminatory, offensive goals."

But Cassidy knows better: She is one of the first generation of "gayby
boom" babies, raised by two moms. Adult children of same-sex parents are
rare. I recently came across Cassidy's story by accident, after she
e-mailed a friend of mine who is a family scholar.

Back in 1976, Cassidy's mom had a religious ceremony with a woman named
Pat. To make Cassidy, they did artificial insemination at home, mixing the
sperm of two gay friends "to make sure nobody would ever know who the
father was," says Cassidy. (That was in the days before widespread DNA
testing.) The two women stayed together for 16 years, until Pat died.
Three years later, Cassidy's mother married a man.

What was it like for Cassidy being raised by two women she called "Mom"
and "My Pat"?

"When growing up, I always had the feeling of being something unnatural,"
Cassidy says. "I came out of an unnatural relationship; it was something
like I shouldn't be there. On a daily basis, it was something I was
conflicted with. I used to wish, honestly that Pat wasn't there."

Why does she oppose same-sex marriage? "It's not something that a seal of
approval should be stamped on: We shouldn't say it is a great and
wonderful thing and then you have all these kids who later in life will
turn around and realize they've been cheated. The adults choose to have
that lifestyle and then have a kid. They are fulfilling their emotional
needs -- they want to have a child -- and they are not taking into account
how that's going to feel to the child; there's a clear difference between
having same-sex parents and a mom and a dad."

Sounds judgmental in print. But up close, Cassidy comes across as fiercely
protective of her mom (Cassidy is a pen name she's adopted to protect her
mom's privacy). Like many children of same-sex parents, she was expected
to defend and protect her mothers from society's homophobia. Her own
troubled feelings about her family life were clearly unacceptable to her
parents. Even now, the prospect of speaking about her own experience gives
her the shakes.

Cassidy's story is not science. It's just her own feelings. Many
researchers say most kids do just fine in these alternative family forms.
Cassidy doesn't buy that research, though. "I don't think a fair study
could be conducted because children currently in that family wouldn't
necessarily be open to speaking their true feelings about it."

A few years back, she watched "20/20" interviews with children like her.
"They were asked questions like: 'Are you happy? Do you love your
parents?' I don't think it's fair to ask them those questions. These are
their parents. They aren't going to say they are suffering, because they
don't want to make their parents feel bad."

Some people will say if Cassidy's mom and "my Pat" had been legally
married, everything would have been fine. Cassidy doesn't think so. "Even
if society were open to it, there's just the whole issue of your
self-identity. I always had the feeling I was in a lab experiment."

She feels driven to do something, say something to protect other children
like her. "Whenever I see it on TV, something inside of me says NO. I
don't think it's fair that the kids are being put in this situation. They
don't have a choice about it."

Do any other adult children with same-sex parents feel the same way? Will
we allow any space in this intense debate between adult combatants for
something as simple as one child's feelings?

(Readers may reach Maggie Gallagher at


Harriet Potter?

I recently read a little article on women and girls in the Harry Potter books. A lot of it struck me as wrongheaded just on basic character-analysis grounds--why characters did what they did--but there was one really interesting wrong turn the piece made that I thought might be worth discussing in more depth. (I'm not linking to the piece because I forgot where I found it. Sorry....)

The article's author figured that there were two ways of writing sexism into one's characters: stereotypical femininity and its mirror opposite, stereotypical tomboyishness. She cashed this out to mean that female characters should always be presented in the same way that a male character would be presented.

But this misses the point of writing characters in the first place. You write a role for a woman because it's a woman's role; to change your character to a man ought to significantly change the character, not only how he acts but how he's perceived. If your character's sex could be replaced with dark, sparkling Folger's XY chromosomes, I can't imagine your characters will feel real, because for real people, sex matters. Whether you're a man or a woman shapes your life. It shapes the way people see you, and that in turn also shapes your life: your actions, your instincts and intuitions, your sense of self.

And the HP article's insistence on gender-neutrality makes it all but impossible for the author to sympathize with any of the books' female characters. Everything they do is either stereotypically girly or stereotypically tomboyish or stereotypically something else--Fleur is a breathy sexpot, Hermione is a tomboy-nerd, McGonagall (yay!) is the old spinster schoolmarm stereotype, etc. Nothing they do is ever good (=gender-neutral) enough, because there really aren't that many gender-neutral behaviors! I mean, practically the only thing a female character can do that is impossible to slot into some reductive stereotype is brush her teeth. Bookish boys act and are treated differently from bookish girls, athletic boys from athletic girls, flighty men (Quirrell) from flighty women (Trelawney). And so, since none of the characters could be replaced by someone of the opposite sex without seriously shifting the feel of the story, none of them are feministically appropriate.

This especially came out in the article's description of Cho Chang. Cho is this athletically talented girl who undergoes a serious personal loss and reacts by getting very, very, very weepy. To the point where it becomes self-indulgent. Cho wallows. And the article's author hated her for it--was upset with JK Rowling for writing this weepy chick character, but hated Cho for being that character.

If you've read the books I hope the problem has already leapt out at you: None of the characters ever handle unhappiness well. Harry Potter gets angsty and ranty and pushes his friends away; Snape (wonderful Snape) wallows like a hog in slop and develops a thoroughly vicious personality; Cho cries too much. But Cho gets blamed, because her reaction is more common for girls than for boys.

Seems to me that if one's understanding of feminism is hostile not only to accurate characterization but to, you know, women, then one might want to spin again, Pat.

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