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Archive for December, 2011

File this one under, “Thinking Out Loud.”

As years go 2011 has by all measures been a deeply challenging year for me. In the tragedy department, this year has been one that makes the law of averages work, making up for the many years of relatively smooth sailing. A recap and an analysis seem to be in order.

I’ve been to the funerals of five close friends this year; buried my Godmother and last surviving maternal aunt; traveled the road with my sixteen year-old niece who was left paralyzed from the waist down after a devastating accident in September; buried Kortney Blythe Gordon, her baby Sophy, and Jon Scharfenberger after the horrific accident that claimed their lives in October; two weeks later buried my brother-in-law, Joe Calo, who leaves behind fifteen and seventeen year-old daughters; and currently have my best friend, Father Steven Clark, recuperating from open heart surgery three weeks ago.

It’s been one year I hope never to repeat. Some might be tempted to curse God, or at least to question where He was when faced with this kind of year, and there are many who have faced a similar year, and many who have faced worse. The answer is not to curse God when we experience loss, but to redouble our praise and thanksgiving. That seems counterintuitive.

Great loss points to great blessing, which points to the loving providence of God. None of the great people in my life has been my doing, but God’s. They are like the threads of a tapestry which intersect my life for a time (some for a very long time) and then end. What the final image will look like is only God’s to know, but as I look at the many beautiful people who are no longer with us, I come to appreciate more and more God’s admonition that His grace is sufficient for me.

I think of the Apostles on the mount during the Transfiguration, how they never wanted to leave that place, that vision, that beauty. The Transfiguration was meant to be instrumental and not aesthetic. It was a foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven for the Apostles who would all (save one) be martyred as they brought the Gospel to the lost.

The beauty of our loved ones produces transfigurations in our own lives, and like the Apostles we can get fixed on the beauty of the moment and lose sight of the instrumentality that such beauty is meant to have in our lives.

We never want it to end. Given a choice between the foretaste of Heaven or the ultimate reality, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’d like to settle for the bird in the hand. It’s all that I’ve ever known. I suspect that God understands that pretty well. So, faced with the loss of such great beauty I reflexively thank God for blessing me with such beautiful family and friends, for all of the good in me that has come from their influence.

On the brighter side, my niece continues to slowly regain sensation and some movement in her legs. If Father Clark has had a rough surgery, I can’t escape the fact that when the surgeons went in, they found that he had huge blood clots in BOTH atria of his heart, and his continued presence is attributable to God alone.

I look at how Joseph is growing beautifully in Boy Scouts, how his social skills are growing there at an accelerated pace, how he is forming good bonds with other men who are excellent mentors and role models.

I look at the avalanche of trophies and awards all three of my children have earned in competitive bowling, how they are all developing as dancers.

Most of all for the children, they are growing in their faith, in their scholastics, and in their love for one another and their family.

And then there is Regina’s love.

Looking at the events of a year is ultimately a misleading exercise, as a year is nothing more than one revolution of our planet around a star. The focus needs to be on our lifetime, and the impact of God’s blessings over the course of that lifetime’s continuum.

When I do that, the sorrow of loss gives way to a whole new transfiguration.

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Coming Home’s Top Ten for 2011

To say that it’s been quite a year would be an understatement. Looking back over the year, I’ve looked at Coming Home’s statistics to see what the top ten blog posts were in terms of traffic. Almost all were articles dealing with priest’s travails: Father Corapi and Father Pavone. Rather than leaving it at that, I’ll compress the posts on each priest and report the most viewed one for each so that we may look at what else has grabbed people’s attention. We’ll start with #1.

#! Prayers for Jon Scarfenberger. I’m still completely at a loss for words at the magnitude of this tragedy and the impact it has had on me. Let’s all continue to lift the Scarfenberger, Blythe and Gordon families in prayer.

#2 Freeing Father Pavone!

#3 Susan G. Komen Gives Million$ to Planned Parenthood.

#4 Father Corapi and March Madness

#5 Pepsi, Aborted Babies, Ethics, and Tasteful Research

#6 Pro-abort’s Lies Written by my ten year-old daughter, Elizabeth; it’s the eigth highest all time on the blog. (Proud Papa smiling!)

#7 Pro-Life Academy. Biology: Cells (III) This is surprising, as it’s an article written in January 2010 when the blog was three weeks old. Who says pro-lifers aren’t science-oriented!!

#8 Exorcists Shutting an Abortion Mill

#9 Pope Benedict XVI: Love & Truth

#10 Post-Abortion Agony

Topically, that represents a nice distribution of science, human pathos, ministry, healing, and theology. In short, it captures the breadth and complexity of who we are and what we do.

I have no idea what lies in store in 2012. I only know that I am so very blessed to be walking the road with everyone here at Coming Home. My prayers for a healthy and prosperous New Year for all.

God Bless.

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Pat Archbold at the National Catholic Register writes on the Death of Pretty:

This post is intended as a lament of sorts, a lament for something in the culture that is dying and may never been seen again.

Pretty, pretty is dying.

People will define pretty differently. For the purposes of this piece, I define pretty as a mutually enriching balanced combination of beauty and projected innocence.

Once upon a time, women wanted to project an innocence. I am not idealizing another age and I have no illusions about the virtues of our grandparents, concupiscence being what it is. But some things were different in the back then. First and foremost, many beautiful women, whatever the state of their souls, still wished to project a public innocence and virtue. And that combination of beauty and innocence is what I define as pretty.

By nature, generally when men see this combination in women it brings out their better qualities, their best in fact. That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it.
Young women today do not seem to aspire to pretty, they prefer to be regarded as hot. Hotness is something altogether different. When women want to be hot instead of pretty, they must view themselves in a certain way and consequently men view them differently as well.

As I said, pretty inspires men’s nobler instincts to protect and defend. Pretty is cherished. Hotness, on the other hand, is a commodity. Its value is temporary and must be used. It is a consumable.

Nowhere is this pretty deficit more obvious than in our “stars,” the people we elevate as the “ideal.” The stars of the fifties surely suffered from the same sin as do stars of today. Stars of the fifties weren’t ideal but they pursued a public ideal different from today.

The merits of hotness over pretty is easy enough to understand, they made an entire musical about it. Who can forget how pretty Olivia Newton John was at the beginning of Grease. Beautiful and innocent. But her desire to be desired leads her to throw away all that is valuable in herself in the vain hopes of getting the attention of a boy. In the process, she destroys her innocence and thus destroys the pretty. What we are left with is hotness.
Hotness is a consumable. A consumable that consumes as it is consumed but brings no warmth.

Most girls don’t want to be pretty anymore even if they understand what it is. It is ironic that 40 years of women’s liberation has succeeded only in turning women into a commodity. Something to be used up and thrown out.

Read the rest here.

Pat nails it in his article. Girls have turned themselves into a “commodity,” into, “A consumable that consumes as it is consumed but brings no warmth.”

This is the pivot point of a civilization in decline. Contraception and abortion are the bulwarks which buttress and facilitate a girl’s ability to persist in the lifestyle that comes with hotness, with wanting to be desirable and desired, “A consumable that consumes as it is consumed but brings no warmth.”

Whereas hotness is aggressive, pretty waits. Pretty invites a man in, and then it makes demands of the man. As Pat notes, “…the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it.” Therein lies the great practical value in women holding their dignity, making themselves known to the men they find attractive in a dignified manner, and then waiting to be recognized and approached by the man.

When a girl retains and lives pretty, while eschewing hotness, the bulk of men who cannot appreciate the virtue behind pretty will move on to more fruitful hunting grounds in the pursuit of immediate gratification. Pretty requires too much energy to overcome. While there are some who relish the challenge of destroying innocence, pretty attracts the noble, the good, like a magnet.

It’s self-selective for its complement in men.

With CDC reporting 1 in 4 American girls contracting a sexually transmitted disease before the age of 19 (48% among African Americans), with 35% of all throat cancers being caused by human papilloma virus, new HIV infections increasing steadily, all STD’s (with three temporary exceptions) rising steadily since the 1960’s, some 80% of STD’s occurring in those under 25, with a 540% increased risk of the most deadly form of breast cancer for women who begin oral contraceptives prior to age 18, something needs to give.

Hot is deadly.

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9:30 P.M. on Christmas Eve, and all is quiet in the house as the children are getting ready for bed. It’s the best part of Christmas for me, the quiet part of the Eve. Time to sit, and pray, and meditate.

No room at the inn.

That’s been gnawing at me for months. A young girl in labor, and a distraught husband desperate to find a place for his young bride to give birth. A little privacy and perhaps the assistance of an older woman from the community for the young couple far from home and reporting in for the Imperial Census. But there was no room at the inn, any inn.

Let that sink in.

In all of Bethlehem there was no room at the inn.

Of course there were rooms. Plenty of rooms. They were all filled, but there was nobody willing to give up their room for a young girl in labor. Not one.

Not one.

That was the darkness into which the Light of the World came that night over 2,000 years ago. It wasn’t that there was no room at the inn. There was no room in people’s hearts. How cold and hard those hearts must have been, every one of them, that they would consign a young girl in labor to the stable with all of its foul odor and indignity. Jesus had His work cut out for Him.

They had forgotten the core of the Mosaic Law, which was Charity and Mercy. They had forgotten Isaiah 58:

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

The Messiah, whose own mother was made to endure childbirth amidst the filth of livestock, would later return to Isaiah when He taught us the criteria by which He would judge us when He returns in glory. In Matthew 25 He tells us:

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

The boy born amidst filth and indignity that night so long ago would bring a light that burns so bright that it melts the hardest of hearts. That light is His word and the Church He founded to preach that word which lives in action. I’m so blessed and proud to have been born into that Church, and to have had a family that expected me to embrace that light.

They expected me to work with God’s plan for me to create an “inn” of my own, not just a room. Make your mark in service to the Church. Little did I know that my life’s work would begin, then come around again in middle age, with the latter day Madonnas of the Streets.

I began to see it when I started working with homeless teen mothers at Covenant House, Times Square, in 1983. It was there that I met Chris Bell, who would shortly leave and cofound with Father Benedict Groeschel his own group of maternity homes, Good Counsel Homes. Chris revolutionized the maternity home model by setting in place in-depth life skills training and education programs that enable women to be the providers for their families.

More than twenty-seven years later, Good Counsel is going strong and a new revolution in maternity homes is underway in Charlotte, North Carolina, at Room at the Inn.

It has been a blessing this year to become friends with RATI’s Director, Jeannie Wray. Catholic, and a cell biologist by training (what’s not to love?!), Jeannie has worked along with Abbot Placid Solari of Belmont Abbey and Dr. William Thierfelder, president of Belmont Abbey College, to begin a home on Belmont Abbey College’s grounds for college women who become pregnant.

This dynamic trio has taken the war on babies to the heart of academia with a fresh new concept. Contrary to radical feminism’s assertion that it’s a choice between a diploma or a baby, this team is showing girls that there is ample room in their lives, and in their hearts, for both.

Earlier this year I was so excited by this new development that I shared with Jeannie my belief the concept will spread like wildfire.

Room at the Inn, and in the hearts of countless thousands of benefactors.

Ground was broken in June of this year for the new house at Belmont Abbey College. The house should be ready in June of 2012 and already five colleges have asked Jeannie if they might come and learn from Room at the Inn.

This past October 27 it was my great honor to be the keynote speaker at Room at the Inn’s annual banquet in Charlotte. Whatever I said wasn’t all that important. What was inspiring was the gathering itself. Over 1,100 people turned out to revel in their fellowship, their faith, and to open wide their hearts and wallets for perfect strangers. Integral to this effort has been the unified efforts of my brother Knights of Columbus in North Carolina.

Because of this outpouring of love, young mothers will know the dignity of mentorship, of a clean and safe place to live before and after the births of their babies, a place to have their children and complete their educations.

A howling rebuke to the satanic consumption of the innocents by the radical feminists.

Ample Room at the Inn, flowing from hearts set afire by the boy born amidst icy indifference so very long ago.

To Jeannie Wray, Abbot Solari, President Thierfelder, Chris and Joan Bell, and the staff at their homes, you are all in my heart tonight as I contemplate nativities old and new. You have all brought so much light into the darkness, and are the unsung heroes of the pro-life cause. The blessings of the Christ Child upon you and your benefactors this Christmas Triduum.

Merry Christmas, all.

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A major victory yesterday for conscience protections. From LifeSite News:

Thu Dec 22 7:53 PM EST

NEWARK, New Jersey, December 22, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a triumph for conscience protections, a New Jersey hospital agreed that nurses will not have to assist with abortions if doing so would violate their moral or religious views.

Twelve nurses filed a lawsuit on October 31 against at the hospital run by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), alleging that the hospital threatened to fire them if they refused to assist in abortions. According to the lawsuit, a supervisor told a nurse in the Same Day Surgery Unit that UMDNJ had “no regard for religious beliefs.”

Forcing a health care professional to participate in an abortion could violate both state and federal law. UMDNJ receives $60 million in federal funding, which protects the consciences of medical staff in some situations. New Jersey state law guarantees, “No person shall be required to perform or assist in the performance of an abortion or sterilization.”

“We are glad that the hospital finally agreed to obey the law and not force our clients to do any work on abortion cases in violation of their beliefs,” Matt Bowman, the attorney who handled the case for the Alliance Defense Fund, stated in an e-mail statement sent to LifeSiteNews.com. “The hospital agreed not to penalize our clients in any way because they choose to not help abortions according to their legal rights.”

The nurses agreed they will briefly assist mothers during a medical emergency, until new staff members who do not object can take their place. The hospital hired four new nurses for these cases. “I’m still scared about the part of them having four nurses brought in and we might become the surpluses,” said Fe Esperanza-Racpan Vinoya, one of the plaintiffs. However, Bowman stated, “the hospital cannot use pro-abortion staff to replace our clients or reduce their hours.”

“The judge warned the hospital that our clients could return to his court if they were assigned to work abortion cases or if the hospital pretextually tries to require the nurses to assist abortions,” Bowman stated.

The hospital notified members of the unit in September that they would undergo abortion training, which included participating in abortions, beginning on October 14. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order to halt the practice on November 3, but nurses say the hospital continued to pressure them to participate. “They said very clearly if we did not assist, we would face termination,” said Racpan Vinoya.

Doctors reportedly told Vinoya, “You just have to catch the baby’s head. Don’t worry; it’s already dead.”

The agreement, which was reached on Thursday, ended the case Danquah v. University of Medicine and Dentistry of N.J. (UMDNJ), which was filed by all but four nurses in their unit.

Rep. Christopher Smith, R-NJ, said the hospital’s disregard for state and federal law and violation of its staff members’ consciences was “not only highly unethical but blatantly illegal.”

This was indeed a great victory, and the credit goes to twelve brave and principled nurses who stood their ground, and attorney Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defense Fund for his skillful and equally courageous defense of the nurses. There is a fundamental principle at stake here, one that is testing all of our established human anthropology, metaphysics, ethics, and jurisprudence.

Are medical professionals autonomous human beings or vending machines acting at the behest of patients and the state?

A government hospital in New Jersey was extremely backward thinking. They claimed that the medical professionals must assist in procedures that their well-formed consciences told them are inhuman and immoral, legality notwithstanding.

We’ve been here before.

The Nuremberg trials at the end of World War II wrestled with a very difficult decision. Nazi leaders and concentration camp personnel claimed to be following the lawful orders of Adolph Hitler, orders which were indeed lawful under Germany’s constitution, as the constitution had been amended by the people to declare the Fuehrer’s word law. At those trials, every civilized nation in the world stood to declare that Natural Moral Law is universal, and supersedes all manmade (positive) law.

Yes, the orders in Germany were indeed lawful under positive law, but the Natural Moral Law which takes the human nature of all human beings into its view supersedes any positive law which might conflict with the dictates of Natural Law.

On that basis, war criminals were hanged or imprisoned for life.

In Germany, it mattered not whether one actually dropped the gas tablets into the showers, or stood guard in the tower, or prepped the victims for their slaughter. Even today in 2012, those suspected of being camp guards are hunted down and put on trial.

It matters that much.

What Nuremberg tells us is that the human conscience is supreme over all positive law, that men and women in medicine are not inanimate vending machines who must respond mindlessly in the affirmative to all requests. That is the basis of conscience protections for health care workers.

Alarmingly, in medicine there are increasing voices who would take us back to a pre-Nuremberg world where the will reigns supreme over humble submission to universal law which respects universal human nature.

Blessedly, there were principled leaders who took on fascism in the middle of the last century in a conflict that claimed over 50 million human lives, and then charted a course in jurisprudence to help ensure that similar tragedies never befell humanity again. Twenty-five years later, the same US Supreme Court that sent Justice Jackson to preside at Nuremberg lost sight of its great contribution and enshrined in our law the principle that individual will trumps the rights of other human beings. Since then, over 53 million humans have lost their lives because of that decision.

Now we are faced with a series of Nurembergs, each struggling to assert the principle laid down so clearly, forcefully, and eloquently over 60 years ago in Germany.

Blessedly, we have principled leaders and warriors today in people like Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defense Fund, Nikolas Nikas and Dorinda Bordleee of the Bioethics Defense Fund, who speak frequently at medical and law schools about conscience rights, and brave medical professionals who are dedicated to upholding the highest estimation of humanity under the law.

To all of them, Thank You, and a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

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“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans–and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.”

~Sigrid Undset

Merry Christmas to all here at Coming Home. May your lives be filled with Peace, and your homes with Love. Thank you all for dropping in, for reading, commenting, and for the care you show for one another. I hope Santa is good to all! For the past two years my stocking was filled with charcoal for committing repeated heresy by teasing the children with the claim that I am the one true Santa.

I’m on track for more of the same this year!

God Bless,

Gerry

A little explanation about the Hex Sign and its Christian symbolism:

Double Trinity Tulips

The stylized tulip with its three petals is a dominate feature in Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. It is referred to as the Trinity Tulip and it symbolizes the Trinity as well as faith, hope and charity. The heart in this sign (as well as other Pennsylvania German folk art) is not the heart of sentimental “Victorian” valentines. Rather, it is religious in its representation of the heart of God, the source of all love and hope for a future life. The colors in this heart are used to give them additional meaning. Red symbolizes strong emotion and blue is used to indicate strength, especially spiritual strength. The white background symbolizes purity and the solid black circle represents unity in Christ.

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Word today from LifeNews.com that the NAACP is opposed to the Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011, which criminalizes abortion on the grounds of race or sex.

Incredible.

With Planned Parenthood operating 78% of their “clinics” in inner-city neighborhoods, and African Americans constituting 12% of the nation but having 37% of the abortions, this is not only racial suicide, but fratricide as well. When the NAACP objects to a bill that would not only outlaw sex-selective abortions, but race-based abortions as well, that’s fratricide. One may only speculate as to why.

Perhaps the NAACP believes that culling the excess of unplanned pregnancies among their daughters is the answer to poverty. That’s genuinely understandable (so long as one sets aside the ten commandments, human instinct, and human decency), and as with most evil and mental confusion, it does have its own internal logic. Vacuuming African American wombs frees girls to pursue their education and vocational advancement.

The problem with the argument is that by any measure, 19 million dead African Americans later, African American neighborhoods are more violent, more economically blighted, more beset by illiteracy, unemployment, incarcerations, drug and alcohol addictions, violent crimes and murder than at any time before. It says something when Juan Williams, a liberal black journalist at NPR, authors a book entitled:

Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America–and What We Can Do About It.

The book is a must-read. The problem for Williams, Bill Cosby, and any other black man or woman who dares to cross the NAACP is that they are accused of being sell-outs to whites. It seems that black folk are the only demographic not entitled to a plurality of opinions, political philosophy, and political affiliations. That’s self-imposed by the NAACP membership. It’s a philosophy and leadership that the subtitle to Williams’ book accurately describes.

The Bill in question will make it illegal to target babies for abortion based on gender or race, and admittedly raises a problem for Planned Parenthood. Under the Bill, abortionists can be imprisoned for not determining if the race or gender of the baby was a determinative factor in aborting.

In practical terms, it’s doubtful that at the individual level this would affect many African American abortions, as the mothers aren’t aborting because of their child’s race. It does, however, have implications at the macro-level when an organization such as Planned Parenthood operates 78% of their centers in inner-city neighborhoods.

That said, why would any civil rights organization (and there are 45 others opposed to this Bill, including the National Council of Jewish Women) object to the Bill’s language or intent? Supposedly, the opposition is to the names of the two great leaders on the Bill, and therein resides a hornets nest of gender and racial politics, of political correctness. So, let’s lance the boil.

The towering abolitionists of history do not belong exclusively to those groups whose oppression they fought, and whose rights they championed. They belong to all human beings of good will, of decency and honor. They belong to all of us precisely because they spoke to the universal human nature and human dignity, both of which were denied in the oppression of women and blacks. We have every right to lay claim to their names and legacies, regardless of our race or gender. To suggest otherwise is to suggest that women and blacks are a class apart from the rest of humanity. It is to suggest that Douglas and Anthony fought for something other than equality.

The truth of the matter is that Douglas and Anthony belong to all of us, including those of us who fight in the modern abolitionist movement. How women and blacks could oppose this Bill is galling. They better than anyone know the sting of a stigmatized history, and the acrid taste of its toxic residue. Females are being targeted for death, and the resultant gender imbalances in countries like China and India are fueling a booming sex slavery industry to satisfy the tens of millions of men with no prospects for marriage. But that doesn’t seem to move the elitist radicals who are also committed to population reduction, seemingly at any cost.

That the NAACP could be moved to outrage by the 3,446 black lynchings since the 1800’s, recorded by the Tuskegee Institute, and be so obtuse to the butchering of almost 20 million blacks since 1973 simply beggars the imagination.

During the Civil War, General McClellan wouldn’t take the Grand Army of the Potomac out to fight. An exasperated President Lincoln, relieving McClellan of command wrote to him:

“My dear McClellan: If you don’t want to use the Army I should like to borrow it for a while.”

The failure to lead, as McClellan learned, is ultimately a self-abdication of the leadership position.

NAACP’s opposition to a common-decency Bill such as this indicates that they have broken ranks with the core principles of the giants for whom it is named. Since they have broken faith with the honor those names have come to personify, we shall carry on the names of Douglas and Anthony, and their legacies of championing equal human rights for all persons.

That starts with the right to live one’s entire life unmolested by predatory members of the species.

One would think that women and blacks would retain some collective memory where that is concerned. If not, the abortion stats for blacks are pointing toward endgame.

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Further thoughts on the incest-as-entertainment at Rosemount High that I blogged on earlier.

The AP has a report on the incident with some pretty disturbing quotes from Principal Wallersheim, whose staff planned the event:

“This activity was intended to be fun, but some found it offensive,” he wrote. “We apologize to anyone who was offended by this activity.”

Incest was intended to be fun. Perhaps as long as it’s presented as a game, it’s really okay. It isn’t the abuse, so much as whether the abuse is turned into a game.

More from AP:

Wollersheim said he wasn’t considering any disciplinary action against the high school employee who came up with the idea. A district spokesman said Superintendent Jane Berenz was not commenting the matter.

Then comes the most appalling of all from Wallersheim:

Wollersheim said he had not received any complaints from the athletes or their parents.

Really?! Neither the offending parents, nor the abused children complained! Is this man for real?! When I read that comment, I immediately thought of this exchange in the movie, Ghandi, an exchange between General Dyer and a government board of inquiry after he ordered a massacre of men, women, and children:

Lord Hunter: General, did you realize there were children, and women, in the crowd?
Gen. Dyer: I did.
Government advocate: But that was irrelevant to the point you were making?
Gen. Dyer: That is correct!
Government advocate: Could I ask you what provision you made for the wounded?
Gen. Dyer: I was ready to help any who applied.
Government advocate: General, how does a child shot with a 303 Lee-Enfield “apply” for help?
Gen. Dyer: [silence]

I thought of this scene, because Principal Wallersheim’s responses evoke the same question for me:

Where is a child who has been sexually assaulted by its parent,
in the school and with the school administration’s consent and approval,
without police or social services intervention,
without spontaneous outrage by the town’s clergy–supposed to apply for redress??

The crime in Rosemount is that every authority figure in the town, civil and religious, has punted.

In Rosemount there is no one to weep for these children, to tell them that they deserved better, that their bodies are sacred, that their dignity forbids being held up to public ridicule and sexual misconduct directed their way. When the Gospels tell us that Jesus wept over Jerusalem, I never quite grasped why.

I get it now.

I get it.

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Please bear with me on this one. It comes with a warning. This is gut-wrenching and nauseating, but needs to be aired.

After having worked for seven years with teen prostitutes at Covenant House in the 1980’s, I honestly thought that I had seen it all. It’s tough to live with the memories of all that I saw, especially as I am now a father and understand the fragility of children from the perspective one can only develop as a loving parent. Mostly I try to forget, because the memories are all the more horrifying when I think of my own children. Some of the most damaging experiences our kids at Covenant House had experienced, and from which they were running, were those of incest.

Teen prostitution, incest, abortion, IVF. What do they all have in common?

Control. Callous Disregard. Objectification. Commodification.

I guess I haven’t seen it all. On their blogs this weekend, both Elizabeth Scalia and Deacon Greg Kandra covered a horrifying incident in Rosemount High School, Minnesota. From the Star Tribune:

A prank on some blindfolded Rosemount High School athletes — they were unknowingly and at times amorously kissed by their parents during a recent pep fest — is collecting YouTube views by the tens of thousands and has the principal apologizing for what happened.

Here’s how the practical joke, originated by school staff members, played out during the assembly on Dec. 8:

The captains of the school’s winter sports teams — boys and girls — were lined up and blindfolded. They were told they would be kissed and then asked to guess who was on the other side of their lips.

Some of the parents during the 59-second YouTube video are seen holding the kisses for several seconds, cupping their child’s faces or embracing and swaying.

One mother moved her son’s hand down to her behind during the encounter. Another mom has her son down on the gym floor to the delight of two male students nearby.

The hoots, screams and laughter rolled on as the students pulled off their blindfolds to realize it was Mom or Dad they were smooching.

Read the rest here.

See the video here.

The story goes on to tell how the principal apologized because some people were offended (not because anything intrinsically immoral, illegal, or psychologically and developmentally damaging had occurred on his watch).

The article goes on to say:

Principal John Wollersheim said he received e-mails and phone calls soon after the pep fest from people who said they were offended by the display. This week, he said, the feedback he’s received has been more supportive.

The focus here should be on the giddy delight of the crowd in the video, and the general support of the principal.

We have imploded as a civilization.

Children are not viewed as autonomous human beings from the very earliest stages of their lives, with parents freezing dozens of their embryonic babies in IVF labs, mothers and fathers (married!!!) aborting their less-than-perfect babies with poor prenatal diagnoses, and now incest-as-pep rally fare.

At its core is the view of the child as property to be disposed of at will. They have ceased being persons to their narcissistic parents and school administrators, and contrary to protests from people around the blogosphere, this is NOT an isolated incident.

The cheers of the crowd and the preponderance of support for the principal tell us just how bad this has seeped into the collective consciousness of society. Need more proof?

The Star Tribune story is most notable for what it DIDN”T report: The arrest of the parents. The firing of the school personnel responsible. The involvement of child protective services. It didn’t report these things because they didn’t happen. Even if these students were beyond the age of statutory rape, what of the younger children present for whom incest was offered as wholesome pep rally entertainment?

When we come to the broader culture with an anthropology that values all human life with an intrinsic dignity from its earliest stages and we make little headway, we need to look at the impediments to our message in the broader culture.

This story, in all of its sordid dimensionality, is a chilling and sobering look into the soul of a civilization that has completely imploded. If we are to be successful in our life apologetics, we will have to take all of this into account. We need to rebuild from the ground-up, and it can’t be done without evangelizing with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

God have mercy on us all.

Part II Here

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Yesterday, Christopher Hitchens entered into eternity at age 62. The celebrated atheist succumbed to pneumonia, which was a complication associated with his esophageal cancer. If Hitchens did great harm by his atheism, it is also certainly true that his atheism was the rhetorical wet stone used by a generation of Christian apologists.

Among the positions staked out by Hitchens, Wiki reports succinctly:

“He argued that the concept of god or a supreme being is a totalitarian belief that destroys individual freedom, and that free expression and scientific discovery should replace religion as a means of teaching ethics and defining human civilization.”

I often wondered if Christopher Hitchens and I inhabited the same planet. Scientific discovery does not teach us ethics. It can’t. Science is performed by human beings operating within given systems of human anthropology. How we define ourselves, a priori, determines how we do science, and how we utilize the results. That there are hundreds of thousands of scientists bringing to their research dozens of anthropological perspectives only muddies the waters.

Hitchens knew this.

It is an odd thing that Hitchens, born four years after World War II, should have equated religion with totalitarianism, when in fact Stalin and Hitler were the Continent’s totalitarian criminals who made war on Judaism and Christianity, seeing faith as the obstacle to their totalitarian designs.

The Third Reich, Tojo’s Japan, and Soviet Stalinism would employ the most barbaric, cruel, and sadisdic scientists to further their twisted anthropology and its aims. Herein may lie the key to Hitchens.

Hitchens’ father was a navy Commander and his mother a navy WREN during the war. His father saw great action, and was also a part of the planning for the failed raid on Dieppe, which was a bloodbath. How were his parents, as well as the rest of the continent, sculpted by their wartime experiences? Judging from the complete moral implosion of Europe in the decades following the war, it’s safe to say that Hitchens was not alone in being contaminated by the war’s fallout.

Lord if you had been here, our continent would not have died.

Hitchens’, and Europe’s, embrace of radicalized autonomy was perhaps a failed attempt at ensuring that no fascist dictator could ever again get a nation goose-stepping into the total oblivion that was visited on the continent during a war that claimed well over 50 million lives. Creeds, praying in unison, codes of conformity, etc.. may have been more than most could have accepted.

But the unanimity of individualism was spoofed in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, where Brian is being acclaimed Messiah in Jesus’ day. Brian tries to disabuse the crowd:

Brian: Please, please, please listen! I’ve got one or two things to say.

The Crowd: Tell us! Tell us both of them!

Brian: Look, you’ve got it all wrong! You don’t NEED to follow ME, You don’t NEED to follow ANYBODY! You’ve got to think for your selves! You’re ALL individuals!

The Crowd: Yes! We’re all individuals!

Brian: You’re all different!

The Crowd: Yes, we ARE all different!

Man in crowd: I’m not…

The Crowd: Sch!

Hitchens never learned that authentic human freedom consists in doing what we ought to do, not what we wish to do. Autonomy permits us a response to God and His creation. It does not permit us to each determine what is or is not worthy of dignity.

Hitchens’ Europe, and its Union, is a totalitarian state that devalues the human person, the sanctity of the human life every bit as much as Hitler and Stalin did. They just do it in the name of individualism and freedom. It’s Brian’s Palestine with a deadly twist.

Hopefully, Jesus came to Hitchens before his last breath with the offer of authentic freedom which, paradoxically, requires complete surrender.

Let’s pray that he’s free at last.

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It was two years ago today that I began this undertaking with great trepidation and an even greater assurance that nobody would ever discover the blog.

Jill Stanek, who knew better, along with her moderators Bethany and Carla really encouraged me to step out of the boat. Jill gave Coming Home a beautiful write-up two weeks later on Christmas Eve, and the rest has been the Holy Spirit of God.

In the past two years, this blog has covered a great deal of ground. 633 Posts and 370,000 hits later, I feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface.

Many on the other side have criticized the tag line:

“Science in Service of the Pro-Life Movement.”

I think that line is misunderstood, and I’d like to clear that up. I’m not distorting science in order to service the pro-life movement. It’s quite the opposite.

After 40 years of abortion, after 50 years of the sexual revolution, the casualties can no longer be swept under the rug with the rhetorical broom of the Culture of Death. The pile of human debris has turned into a mountain, and every shred of credible science shows as much.

Science done properly and well serves the truth, and the truth consistently emerging from credible science serves the pro-life argument.

Science validating the truth of life, the truth of God’s creation. That leads to the second great criticism of this blog:

The blending of science and religion, especially Catholicism, is seen as discrediting the science.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Living an integrated life, in part, means taking truth from science and applying that truth to the contentions of faith and vice-versa, and looking for the areas of agreement. Science is increasingly demonstrating the benefits of a life lived according to God’s wise design. That’s why I get hammered. The Culture of Death is terrified by that prospect.

And of course, I would be having a conversation with myself, but for all of the good people who have stopped, read, contemplated, responded, encouraged and challenged me, and spread the word about what Coming Home has been bringing to light:

The wondrous nature of God’s creation, and the consequences of disregarding the revealed plan for that creation.

My heartfelt thanks and prayers to all who have spent their time here and who have spread the good news that the systematic study of God’s creation has validated his wise design for that creation.

I have never asked for money to help sustain me and my family, considering the time this blog consumes, and I never will.

God has sustained us, and He always will.

For all who responded to my request for the money and prayers we needed to bury Kortney, Sophie and Jon in October, my eternal gratitude. The outpouring of love and support were a healing balm for Ben Gordon, the Scharfenberger family, and the family at Students for Life. This was the pro-life family in our finest hour.

God Bless you all, and please be assured of my ongoing prayers for all as we soldier on together.

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There is a culture among the poorest of the poor, something I came to know almost thirty years ago working with homeless youth in Times Square, NY. There is a care and concern that many street people show for one another.

So often we think of them as “other”. “They’re not like us,” so many think with a terrible condescension.

In truth, they are the human face of Jesus, who tells us in Matthew 25 that our eternal destiny is tied to our response to the poorest and least among us.

This Sunday is Gaudete Sunday in Advent, the day we rejoice that our penitential season is half over. We do not look toward the Nativity yet, as the Church still focuses on the second coming of Jesus to judge the living and the dead. As we rejoice, we do well to contemplate the following short film, and the life-changing perspective it offers.

I’ve never seen anything like it in beauty. O Henry would have been proud.

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H/T Patrick Madrid and Deacon Greg Kandra

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The recent overruling of the FDA decision to sell Plan B over the counter (OTC) to children as young as eleven years of age has engendered no small amount of outrage by proponents of the FDA plan, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has come in for severe criticism from women’s health and advocacy groups. Setting aside for a moment the undercurrent of abortion and the distrust between warring parties over the issue, this decision by Secretary Sebelius is a victory for the very children the FDA purports to serve and protect.

According to FDA labeling on Plan B:

“Ectopic pregnancies account for approximately 2% of all reported pregnancies. Up to 10% of pregnancies reported in clinical studies of routine use of progestin-only contraceptives are ectopic.”

That represents a five-fold increase in the incidence of a potentially fatal side effect of the drug’s usage in those taking the drug. The very issue proponents of OTC Plan B sale cite for selling to young adolescents, their fear of parental knowledge and involvement in their sex lives, heightens the risk of fatality in the very young.

Aiding and abetting the young in skirting parental involvement fosters a do-it-yourself gynecology where side-effects such as cramping, nausea, vomiting, and bleeding can serve to reinforce and heighten the fear and distrust that led to the child’s self-medication in the first place. Plan B taken by a child with an existing and untreated endometriosis can lead the child into thinking that the lower abdominal pain and heavy bleeding of a resulting ectopic pregnancy may well be her monthly norm. Such a mistake can be fatal, but what is an already fearful and distrustful child to do? It is entirely unreasonable to expect children, who are notoriously ignorant of their changing physiology, to engage in self-differential diagnosis and admit their clandestine activities to the parents they fear and distrust.

In research conducted by Family Health International (FHI), January, 2003.

“… the sine qua non of an OTC-switch is that patients should be capable of self-medicating by reading the drug’s package insert. The above label comprehension tests for Plan B indicate that safe self-medication is not possible for a significant segment of the population. For example, only 75% of all respondents answered correctly that Plan B should not be taken in the presence of unexplained vaginal bleeding. Among the low-level literacy group that figure declined to 69%. Furthermore, only 67% of all respondents understood that Plan B is designed to serve as a backup for regular contraception methods, not a replacement. Among those of low-literacy this figure dropped to 46%; whereas for women of high literacy the figure was 78%. Obviously, many patients do not understand much of the drug’s package insert, which argues against FDA approval of EC OTC.”

If there are any doubts about the ability of children and teens to self-prescribe such medication and act responsibly, NPR published a story about the work of Harvard’s Dr. Frances Jensen that shows how the child and adolescent brain is underdeveloped in the areas responsible for critical and prudent decision making:

She learned that that it’s not so much what teens are thinking — it’s how.

Jensen says scientists used to think human brain development was pretty complete by age 10. Or as she puts it, that “a teenage brain is just an adult brain with fewer miles on it.”

But it’s not. To begin with, she says, a crucial part of the brain — the frontal lobes — are not fully connected. Really.

“It’s the part of the brain that says: ‘Is this a good idea? What is the consequence of this action?’ ” Jensen says. “It’s not that they don’t have a frontal lobe. And they can use it. But they’re going to access it more slowly.”

Do-it-yourself gynecology is bad medicine for the young, and our daughters deserve better than such callous disregard for their lack of knowledge of their bodies, lack of impulse control, and lack of sufficient neurological development to enable them to make reasonable and informed decisions. For those who lack trust in the experience and wisdom of the adults who know them best, it is all the more imperative that we ensure they don’t fall victim to pharmaceutical merchants and their allies who would exploit the callowness of their youth.

For the women’s groups howling with rage at Sebelius, I remember a time when feminism demanded medicine’s best for women, not do-it-yourself gynecology for our teenage and pre-teen daughters.

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Newt Clears the Air

This evening, I received the following communication from Newt Gingrich’s communications director, which I believe clears the air and provides Mr. Gingrich with a way forward:

Hi Gerard,

Dan forwarded me your email.

To be clear, Newt believes that human life begins at conception, that is, at the moment of fertilization.

Does this help clarify?

Best,

Joe DeSantis
Communications Director
Newt 2012

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Last week, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich made the following statement in an interview with Jake Tapper:

“I think that if you take a position when a woman has fertilized egg and that’s been successfully implanted that now you’re dealing with life,” he added. “Because otherwise you’re going to open up an extraordinary range of very difficult questions.”

Which prompted this reply from me: Click Here.

The next day, I received the following reply from the Gingrich Campaign. The reply is presented in its entirety, with my analysis following.
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Dr. Nadal,

Newt has stated many times throughout the course of his public life that he believes that human life begins at conception. Here is a statement Newt released today reaffirming that belief: http://bitly.com/tr7cP6 . (Full text pasted below)

In terms of new pro-life legislation, Newt said at The Family Leader Thanksgiving Family Forum on November 19 that he supports Congress enacting pro-life legislation under the 14th Amendment, including legislation that would define personhood as beginning at conception. Watch the video here: http://bitly.com/svuZAc .

During his 20 years in Congress, Newt held a consistently pro-life voting record. He received a 98.6% lifetime rating from the National Right to Life Committee, consistently voted for the Hyde amendment, and twice during his speakership passed legislation banning partial birth abortion. More details on his consistent pro-life voting record here: http://bitly.com/vzQkD4 .

For more info about the pro-life positions Newt will advocate as president, here is the Susan B. Anthony List’s 2012 Pro-life Presidential Leadership Pledge he signed in June: http://bitly.com/rAXj0E . And here is the candidate questionnaire Newt submitted to the National Right to Life Committee last month: http://bitly.com/u73oBP .

Thanks,
Dan

Gingrich Reaffirms His Belief in the Sanctity of all Human Life, Born and Unborn

Atlanta, GA – (12/3) – In advance of this evenings forum hosted by Mike Huckabee, Newt 2012 released the following statement today from Newt Gingrich regarding his belief in the sanctity of all human life, born and unborn.

“As I have stated many times throughout the course of my public life, I believe that human life begins at conception. I believe that every unborn life is precious, no matter how conceived. I also believe that we should work for the day when there will be no abortions for any reason, and that every unborn child will be welcomed into life and protected by law.

“That is why I have supported, and will continue to support, pro-life legislation that not only limits, but also reduces, the total number of abortions, with a view to the eventual legal protection of all unborn human life.

“As I have also stated in the past, on day one of my administration, I will sign an executive order reinstating Ronald Reagan’s Mexico City policy that prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to fund abortions overseas. I will also work with Congress to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood so that no taxpayer dollars are being used to fund abortions but rather transfer the money so it is used to promote adoption and other pro-family policies, and to enact legislation that provides greater protections for the unborn.

“In terms of new pro-life legislation, I stated as recently as November 19 at a public form of candidates in Iowa that I support Congress enacting pro-life legislation under the 14th Amendment, including legislation that would define personhood as beginning at conception.

“As I have also made clear in several of my public pronouncements throughout this campaign, I oppose federal funding of any research that destroys a human embryo because we are also dealing here with human life.

“My convictions on human life are longstanding, deeply felt, and irrevocable matters of conscience. I will do all in my power – always – to foster reverence for life.”

All of this is very reassuring, on one level.

That said, I cannot fathom how Mr. Gingrich could have uttered the words he did with Tapper, unless he has bought into the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s politically corrected definition of conception beginning at implantation. That is the only way that we can square Gingrich’s comment to Tapper with his reply to the criticism of those comments.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have always been a big admirer of Mr. Gingrich, and fully support his candidacy. However, I have a very basic question for him to put this issue to bed:

Do you accept the definition of conception as the fertilization of egg and sperm, with the resultant single-celled embryo being a new human being, or do you equate conception with implantation?

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