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Archive for the ‘Dignity’ Category

cogdis

In the latest school shooting, President Obama sums up what many of us believe. From the NY Daily News:

It was the 74th shooting at an American school since the December 2012 massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School — and the 37th just this year, according to a tally by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America…

“This is not acceptable, this is not normal,” he said in a Tumblr chat. “We’re the only developed country on Earth where this happens and it happens now once a week and it’s a one-day story.”
Gun violence in America, Obama said, is “off the charts.”

“There’s no advanced, developed country on Earth that would put up with this,” he said. “This is becoming the norm and we take it for granted in ways that, as a parent, are terrifying to me . . . If public opinion does not demand change in Congress, it will not change.”

While some people think mental illness is the problem, Obama said, “The United States does not have a monopoly on crazy people.” The problem, Obama said, is the availability of guns and “this country has to do a lot of soul searching.”

They really are going by in a blur, all of these school shootings. But blaming the guns misses the mark by a mile.

WHY are these shootings taking place, and WHY now?

We have tighter restrictions on gun purchase and ownership than in any time in America. There is a seeming proportionality between restrictions and violence, but even that cannot explain the motives. Where motive is concerned, there is no one, single, prognosticator. It is rather akin to looking at a painting and taking it all in at once. The components defy logical analysis of themselves and only function in a unified and organic wholeness with one another.

Obama is too myopically focussed on the gun to see the coarsening to life that he himself has championed his whole adult life. He fails to see the 57 million babies torn apart in abortion.

He fails to see the overwhelming majority (~80%) of post-abortive mothers with psychological sequelae.

He fails to see an African American community decimated by 15 million missing members from abortion.

He fails to see the victims of his health legislation who have lost their physicians and their health policies and consequently their cancer therapies.

He fails to see violent video games that are virtual training academies for the real-life violence in our schools.

He fails to see a medical community increasingly lazy and given to passive and active euthanasia.

He fails to see his own failures at stemming the tide of illegal drugs.

He fails to see his Hollywood pals and their culpability in producing a river of filth.

He fails to see the effects of pornography on the devaluation of both men and women.

He fails to see his role in destroying the economic girders that produce jobs, which give young people hope and purpose.

He fails to see how rampant teenage promiscuity factors into young people regarding one another more as objects that exist solely for one’s personal pleasure than as peers to be cherished, and cheerleads Planned Parenthood as they prey upon our children.

He fails to see the abdication of parental responsibility in raising children and overseeing their progress in school.

He fails to see that he presides over a nation that has lost everything:

Standing in the world.

Prosperity.

Sense of mission and purpose.

And worst of all, the very thing he campaigned to restore… HOPE.

So myopically focussed on the guns in this portrait of modern America is our president, that he sees nothing else. The proximal and distal causes all collapse into one dimension with him. Such a man is incapable of leadership, and as we have seen since the beginning, can only blame everyone else for the difficulties over which he presides.

But blaming Obama is as myopic as the president’s vision.

We have brought all of this upon ourselves. We live in a constitutional republic: limited powers to government with elected officials. We have been too narcissistic and hedonistic to care about the destruction wrought by these men and women who come from us, and are a reflection of us. We have lived lives, as a people, that are out of control and have raised children in a coarsened and calloused environment of our own making.

We did this, collectively.

The gun is an afterthought.

The only difference between the victims of Columbine, Sandy Hook, the other school shootings, and the 57 million butchered babies is that these children in school were wanted children.

That’s how to spell “Calloused” and “Hedonistic”.

That’s the America Obama can’t see.

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terrischiavo-273x275

Every now and then the biomedical community and the legal system are presented with the opportunity to rediscover our collective humanity through the lens of animal rights and animal cruelty. More often than not that lens has insufficient power to correct their distorted perception of human dignity. Having just passed the ninth anniversary of Terri Schiavo’s death by starvation and dehydration, word comes today of the starvation and dehydration death of Roxy the dog, a boxer in England, who died at the hands of his solicitor-in-training owner, Katy Gammon.

Ms. Gammon has been in the employ of a law firm specializing in……

Medical Negligence.

It seems that Ms. Gammon retained Roxy who originally belonged to a boyfriend after the relationship ended. The dog was kept locked in the kitchen because it wasn’t housebroken. All was well until Gammon began staying with her mother a few blocks away and stopped coming to feed the dog after she injured her knee. A window into the collective soul from MailOnline:

Bristol Magistrates’ Court had previously heard that Gammon had confined the dog by tying a rope to the kitchen door handle and fixing it to a hook in the hall.

Roxy had frantically clawed at the door, leaving fragments on the floor, as she tried to escape before her death, which would have taken around six days…

Asked if she had deliberately locked her in the kitchen and left her to die, Gammon replied: ‘Yes, basically.’

The article continues with a description of what Roxy’s death was probably like. At this juncture it is worth noting that humans and dogs have very similar anatomy and physiology, and that dog experimentation has often been the last step before human trials of new medicines and medical treatments, because of our shared similarities. More from the article:

A vet said the pet would have taken up to six days to die gradually and painfully, becoming blind and falling into a coma before passing away…

‘A number of items had desperately been pulled out of cupboards. We believe this was a desperate attempt at searching for food or water.

‘Roxy suffered a slow, painful death which could have been prevented.’

And so it goes with human beings who are deprived of food and hydration as a means of hastening death. It is a slow and agonizing demise, as Roxy’s story indicates. Often the patient is unresponsive, but as the parent of any teenager knows, lack of responsiveness does not indicate a lack of sensory reception, or internal processing. Terri Schiavo was perhaps the most publicized case of the Roxys of our species.

However, shared physiology is where our paths diverge. Lower animals now possess greater dignity (from the Latin, meaning “standing”) in western jurisprudence than human beings. Consider the words of the sentencing magistrate as Gammon received 18 weeks in jail, and a lifetime ban on owning pets, for her crime:

Sentencing, magistrate Rod Mayall said: ‘You have shown limited remorse. You failed to behave as any normal person would have. This is the most serious case of animal cruelty encountered in these courts.’

And here is where the magistrate misses the mark by a mile. Humans are also animals. Additionally, we are a higher order animal, capable of at least as much pain (physical state) as a dog, and perhaps even more suffering (a psychological state). If this is the worst case of animal cruelty he has seen before the court, then it is because humans have lost their standing in the very courts they have created. Gammon has been sentenced to jail and a lifetime ban from owning pets so that she may never again be in a position to practice such barbarism. That’s a good thing.

However human beings who, on a daily basis, pull members of their own species apart, limb-by-limb, in the womb, and who similarly starve and dehydrate members of our own species to death do so with government-issued licenses and are considered practitioners in good standing.

The outrage in all of this isn’t that Gammon was punished for her crime against Roxy, it’s that the deaths of the Terri Schiavo’s among us aren’t considered criminal at all. It is that our legislators and judges do not, “behave as any normal person would have,” protecting humans with the same ferocity as they would if the subject in consideration were a dog.

The greatest tragedy of all is that humans have a long way to go before we enjoy equal dignity, equal standing with our pets in a court of law.

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gay-parade-7

Fox News reports that Cardinal Dolan, in an interview with David Gregory of Meet the Press, claims that the Church was “outmarketed” on the issue of gay marriage. From the report:

Asked why the church is losing the argument on gay marriage, Dolan responded, “Well, I think maybe we’ve been outmarketed sometimes. We’ve been caricatured as being anti-gay.”

He said the church supports “traditional marriage and is not “anti-anybody,” adding, “When you have forces like Hollywood, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion-molders that are behind it, it’s a tough battle.”

Without knowing it, Cardinal Dolan has identified the core of the problem. Our leadership, with few exceptions, have adopted the superficiality of branding and marketing as a cheap substitute for the grittiness and tenacity of evangelization. Worse still, while we have abandoned evangelization and hewing to the hard line of the Gospel, it is the other side who have been engaged in the grit and tenacity of evangelization.

That’s right. The other side has been engaged in three decades of evangelization, while the majority of our priests and bishops have endeavored to be “non confrontational” and “nonjudgemental”.

The results speak for themselves.

While the Church has been entirely kicked out of the public schools, with students being disciplined for wearing shirts bearing the word, “Christmas”, the other side has succeeded in getting complete acceptance in schools with gay/straight alliances, comprehensive sex education, and now state laws permitting transexual and transgender students permission to use whatever bathrooms they please.

That’s not marketing. That’s evangelization.

Our leaders have stood by, largely mute, while we have been kicked out of the public square by a vocal minority who have moved in to occupy the ground formerly held by the Church. That all begs the question as to how such a coup could have happened.

In truth, more than 85% of married Catholics ignore the Magisterium when it comes to the right use of sex in marriage and the use of contraception.

58% 67% of Catholics approve of gay marriage.

To say that those numbers are the result of marketing is to suggest that the Gospel has roots shallower than grass. And on that matter, Pope Francis has spoken loud and clear.

Many priests reacted with scorn to the challenge by Francis that they and their bishops get out of the rectory and go out among the people in a bold new way. Francis sees clearly that the Church is dwindling in influence because the people don’t know who they are. They have lost sight of their great dignity while so very many of our clergy refuse to engage the culture for fear of alienating people or seeming judgmental. That timidity is often defended as the cardinal virtue of Prudence.

It isn’t.

It’s cowardice, pure and simple.

A great definition of Prudence from New Advent:

One of the four cardinal virtues… A fuller description and one more serviceable is this: an intellectual habit enabling us to see in any given juncture of human affairs what is virtuous and what is not, and how to come at the one and avoid the other. It is to be observed that prudence, whilst possessing in some sort an empire over all the moral virtues, itself aims to perfect not the will but the intellect in its practical decisions. Its function is to point out which course of action is to be taken in any round of concrete circumstances. It indicates which, here and now, is the golden mean wherein the essence of all virtue lies. It has nothing to do with directly willing the good it discerns. That is done by the particular moral virtue within whose province it falls. Prudence, therefore, has a directive capacity with regard to the other virtues. It lights the way and measures the arena for their exercise. The insight it confers makes one distinguish successfully between their mere semblance and their reality. It must preside over the eliciting of all acts proper to any one of them at least if they be taken in their formal sense. Thus, without prudence bravery becomes foolhardiness; mercy sinks into weakness, and temperance into fanaticism.

No mention in there of marketing. In fact, when gay marriage passed in New York State, Cardinal Dolan was quoted in the NY Daily News as saying:

Cardinal Dolan revealed for the first time that the Catholic Church was caught flat-footed on last year’s gay marriage vote in New York — insisting it was “burned” by Senate Republicans who claimed it didn’t have a prayer.

“We got burned last year when we were told the redefinition of marriage didn’t have much of a chance — and of course it did,” Dolan told the Daily News as he prepared for Monday’s annual Albany lobbying trip.

“Our Senate leaders, we highly appreciated them being with us all along,” he explained. “When they kind of assured us it didn’t have much of a chance — not that we let up, but we probably would have been much more vigorous and even more physically present if we knew there was a chance.”

Perhaps. But activism built on an unevangelized church is like building a house on a foundation of sand. The truth is that a solidly evangelized Church would be much more resistant to the evangelists from the culture of death. As Chesterton observed, the man who stands for nothing will fall for anything. And that’s what has happened. A people who have been abandoned by their shepherds are being torn apart by the wolves. Now a chief shepherd chalks that up to “marketing”.

It was earlier this year that Cardinal Dolan, as the head of the USCCB, failed to lead any opposition to the Boy Scouts of America opening the doors to gay members. The silence from the Church leadership was deafening. The closest we came to any clerical position was a priest who claimed to be a member of the national Catholic Committee on scouting who debated me on FaceBook.

The priest claimed that the Church could not oppose such a move, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church specifies that no youth be barred from youth ministry because of their sexual orientation. While that is true, BSA is not a church ministry, but a national institution. The Church also failed to take the long view of the situation.

In accepting openly gay youth who will become Eagle Scouts, how can the organization then reject the same Eagle Scout as an adult leader when he turns 18? Yet the Church, while rightly not barring gay youth from ministry, will reject that openly homosexual young man when he applies to the seminary, or for a teaching position in a Catholic school. So, the Boy Scouts were hung out to dry.

That wasn’t a “marketing” issue either.

The truth is that there are a fair number of gay clergy. There are an even greater number who do not stand with the Church on abortion, contraception, or the right use of sex in marriage. So, these issues never get preached or taught, or when they do, it is the Magisterium that gets pilloried.

It wasn’t a marketing issue that has led to the disintegration of Western Civilization.

In the wake of Vatican II our seminaries descended into chaos at every level, with some earning the moniker of “pink palace,” so notorious were they for their homosexual subcultures. Many of those seminarians were ordained. When Pope Benedict XVI was elected to the Papacy he undertook an Apostolic Visitation of our seminaries to address this problem, among others.

Today we see the fruits of that chaos from the 60’s and 70’s, even the 80’s. We see the fruits of nonevangelization on our part and the fruits of the other side’s evangelization.

They have a positive view of themselves, of their lifestyle, and of their contribution to society. They preach that vision in season and out of season with a singularity of focus that resembles the singularity and tenacity of St. Paul the Apostle. They push and push and push. Then they push some more. They go into the schools, and businesses, and the public square. They preach in churches and synagogues, and in civic associations. They boldly challenge any who stand in their way, and took singular aim at Cardinal O’Connor, even going so far as desecrating the Eucharist in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Perhaps we could learn a lesson in evangelization from the other side, clergy and laity alike.

We weren’t outmarketed.

We were outevangelized.

That’s our great failure and our great shame.

On this First Sunday of Advent we ought to take stock of these failures, do penance, and begin the long, gritty work of a new evangelization.

Commentary on the HHS part of the interview here.

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Unilever’s Blockbuster Pro-life Ad

When was the last time an industrial giant made a pro-lifer stand up and cheer? I did tonight when I saw Unilever’s new 4 1/2 minute film encouraging expectant parents to bring their children into the world, and introducing their new program for green production and sustainability. The film itself is the most hopeful secular production I’ve seen in decades.

The film, Why Bring A Child Into This World?, helps to roll out Project Sunlight. Give them a visit and see what it’s all about.

Upon quick examination I didn’t see anything objectionable. Closer examination may reveal areas where pro-lifers feel there could be improvement. If so, let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

We have a film that is taking on many parents’ fears and saying that there is every reason to bring their children into the world.

Two thumbs up for Unilever!!

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All Saints Day: Learning Love

All-Saints

In homeschooling our children, I have never given them a grade for their religious studies. When asked why, my response is simple:

When we die, the grade is either Pass, Fail, or Incomplete. No letters. No numbers.

Today we celebrate those who passed- the saints. Tomorrow, we pray for those who got incompletes, the holy souls in purgatory who are completing their preparation for the Beatific Vision. There are countless millions of saints in heaven and souls in purgatory. Not all of the saints get a named feast day, only a very few. Most have not been formally canonized by the Church in that rigorous process that declares one’s life worthy of emulation. Not to take away from the great pantheon of named saints, but there are others.

Today, I think of my grandparents who led lives of heroic virtue amidst the grinding poverty of the Great Depression. I recall the stories told over and over in my youth. Mom’s mother feeding the kids oatmeal for dinner and having a small steak for my grandfather when he came home from a sixteen hour day of work. How he refused to eat that steak without dividing it equally among the five children and Nana, with Nana pleading that a grown man needed his strength. He wouldn’t hear of it.

I think of Dad’s mother giving them each a penny for the poor box in church on Sunday, “for the poor kids,” as they trod to mass with holes in their shoes and a simple potato for dinner.

There were the stories of neighbors pitching in and helping neighbors. There were the Sisters of St. Joseph who would pick out the kids who were obviously malnourished (like my dad and his brother) and ask them at lunch time to bring the sisters’ laundry to the cleaners. When they returned, there were always a few place settings with untouched lunch waiting, along with the face-saving, “Some of the sisters are sick today, and it would be a sin to waste food. Could you help us by eating some?”

There was crusty old Msgr. Cherry, the pastor, who always seemed to have vouchers for new shoes at the shoe store. A gruff old goat with a heart of gold.

There are the two priests who were like fathers to me, Fr. Luke McCann and Fr. Jack McGuire who have gone home to the Lord within these past two years, for whom I still cannot find adequate words to write anything that can encompass their greatness and all that they have done to form me.

And they all had their flaws, their weaknesses, their sins.

And still they are saints today, all of them having died sealed in the sacraments.

So what have I learned from the stories, and from the things I have witnessed first-hand? The great common denominator among all of the saints is this:

Love.

Period.

All of scripture and theology, all of the liberal arts, bioethics, philosophy, point us toward the acquisition and the mastery of this one virtue that is indispensable for eternal life. Fyodor Dostoyevsky gets it exactly right in The Brothers Karamazov:

Brothers, love is a teacher, but a hard one to obtain: learning to love is hard and we pay dearly for it. It takes hard work and a long apprenticeship, for it is not just for a moment that we must learn to love, but forever.

When I think of the everyday saints I have known, they were all characterized by the hard work of which Dostoyevsky speaks; and they did indeed pay dearly for it. Learning to love is not easy, and often messy. Dying to self can exact a toll on one’s peace of heart and mind, and soul. Even the saints portrayed in the icons had their moments.

That’s easy to lose sight of in our own journey. The icons show us the finished products as the artist envisions the beatific vision unfolding, not the dark days and foul moods, the doubts and fears, the moments when we try to snatch a little time or something just for ourselves. We do pay dearly for the experience of learning to love. I suspect, though, that the alabaster saints in church were no different.

So, who is today for?

Certainly the named saints, but also the plain, ordinary folk who lived and loved, stumbled and got up again and again, perfecting themselves within the crucible of family life lived quite often in the vice-grip of poverty. Today is their day.

It’s also ours. It’s our chance to praise God for the witness of the saints, for their great example to us, for their lives among us. We ask their intercession for those of us in the crucible who are learning to love, a little more each day. And as we make our way, daily, we must never lose sight of Dostoyevsky’s great admonition:

…for it is not just for a moment that we must learn to love, but forever.

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OctoberRosebud

Increasingly, I understand why it is that old people begin to welcome death as a friend.

News today from across the pond in The Telegraph of a young Somali girl who was smuggled into Great Britain for the purpose of harvesting her organs. From the story:

The unnamed girl was brought to the UK from Somalia with the intention of removing her organs and selling them on to those desperate for a transplant.

Child protection charities warned that the case was unlikely to be an isolated incident as traffickers were likely to have smuggled a group of children into the country.

The case emerged in a government report which showed that the number of human trafficking victims in the UK has risen by more than 50 per cent last year and reached record levels.
A total of 371 children were exploited, with the majority of them being used as slaves or sexually abused. They included 95 children from Vietnam, 67 from Nigeria and 25 from China. Others hailed from Romania and Bangladesh.

The figures also detail how 20 British girls have been victims of human trafficking. It comes after a series of court cases in which British girls were raped and exploited by gangs of Asian men.
Child protection charities warned last night that criminal gangs were attempting to exploit the demand for organ transplants in Britain.

Bharti Patel, the chief executive of Ecpat UK, the child protection charity, said: “Traffickers are exploiting the demand for organs and the vulnerability of children. It’s unlikely that a trafficker is going to take this risk and bring just one child into the UK. It is likely there was a group.”

According to the World Health Organisation as many as 7,000 kidneys are illegally obtained by traffickers each year around the world.

While there is a black market for organs such as hearts, lungs and livers, kidneys are the most sought after organs because one can be removed from a patient without any ill effects.
The process involves a number of people including the recruiter who identifies the victim, the person who arranges their transport, the medical professionals who perform the operation and the salesman who trades the organ.

The government’s report also found that there has been a rise in the number of adults trafficked to the UK, with the number of women rising by 12 per cent to 786 and the number of men by almost a third to 400. They include growing numbers of British men are being exploited for “paving or ground works” in this country or abroad.

Read the rest.

I don’t know what to say about this. I think its speaks for itself. I’m simply beyond words.

I understand old people more, and more.

Maranatha!

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Ad_Altare_Small

This is a story about defeating autism, the practical attainment of hope for devastated parents, and a whole new way of approaching a scourge upon our beloved children. Our son, Joseph, happens to be its protagonist; but the joyful hope in this story resides in the certainty that it is a template into which parents may insert any one of countless thousands of protagonists. Three years ago next week, Joseph joined the Boy Scouts of America. The first article I wrote contains his history in detail, our struggles, and the first real glimmer of hope we had in years of attempting to break free of autism’s shackles.

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As Joseph progressed through that very, very difficult and challenging year, I chronicled him at three months, and then again as he was off to summer camp, and then a week after his triumphal return from a summer camp experience in the middle of a heat wave, where daytime temperatures ranged from a low of 96, to a high of 103. These four stories are a tight chronicle of an important first year experience. It’s been two years since I’ve written, and Joseph’s world has changed dramatically.

Since he began, Joseph has advanced in rank from Scout, to Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and in two weeks he will complete the rank requirements for Life Scout, one step shy of Eagle. Before this summer, he earned a total of seventeen merit badges and earned the Ad Altare Dei (To the Altar of God) Catholic award, receiving it from Cardinal Dolan in a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral this past April. All of that is just the beginning.

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Two years ago I sat with Joseph and explained his diagnoses with him. It is essential to understand that what I told him was the absolute truth, and not an attempt to soft-peddle something unpalatable. Joseph’s two major diagnoses are moderately profound autism (top 25% of the low end of the spectrum at age four), and Attention Deficit Disorder. The other diagnoses are mixed expressive/receptive language disorder, sensory integration disorder, static encephalopathy, and cerebellar deficit. At age five, half of his IQ subtests were low average, and the other half below that at borderline. The explanation took place in stages over a six-month period, in increments I thought he could digest in any given sitting.

So, here is a summary of what I explained to Joseph:

The understanding is that there are different model brains, just as there are different model cars. I had him recall when we bought our car a few years back, how he made a point of sitting in every car on the showroom floor. Each of those cars has associated strengths and weaknesses. Compact cars are great on gas mileage and savings, but can’t tow boats or trailers. Trucks are great at towing, but not so great on gas. Family vans occupy the middle ground. So it is when God creates us. There are many different model brains on His showroom floor, and we each get one, with all the associated strengths and weaknesses.

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Along with each model brain comes an associated learning style. Some are better visual learners, some auditory, others kinesthetic, some brilliant at numerics, while others are more linguistic. Some brains are geared toward being socially gregarious, while others are more reserved and introspective. So, why does God allow for so many types of brains? Why not give everyone equal capability at excelling in everything, I asked my son. The answer, I offered, is simple.

If each of us had it all we wouldn’t need one another. Love would collapse, along with complementarity. Life would be flat, bland. Worse still… how would we attain Heaven if we had no means of learning sacrificial love in a world where it was unnecessary?

Our needs are the salvation of those who give of themselves to fill those needs, and their needs are our salvation.

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The key to growth, I explained, is to get teachers who are schooled in the different learning styles and who can teach to ours. Years ago, before we had all of this great knowledge we thought of the world in terms of normal and pathological. That wasn’t bad. It was the medical model, which put to flight the old superstition model which governed the world at the time of the Salem Witch Trials. However as civilization has advanced from the time of my own childhood, and the hell that was my life with ADHD, we have come to see ‘normal’ as dynamic and not monolithic. We have come to understand much of therapy as merely education (be that psychotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy) and not pathologic intervention.

In fact, I never used the “T” word with Joseph (Therapy, with its associated implication of brokenness and pathology). Instead, I always used the other “T” word, teacher. Speech therapy was going to see his speech teacher. Occupational therapy was going to see his gym teacher. In the final analysis that’s all therapy really is: teaching.

There is another critical distinction. The autistic brain is a brain with a unique learning style, and in possession of unique gifts when it comes to memory and capacity for depth of knowledge. Autism is an “ism,” like feminism, communism. In other words, it is a condition of being handicapped. We defeat autism when we teach to the style of the autistic brain. As I explained to Joseph:

It’s only a handicap if you can’t function.

American_Heritage

It’s been almost eleven years since we began this odyssey of delving into the inner workings of one of the most puzzling brain models on God’s showroom floor, one that now appears in 1:50 children. It’s been a great collaborative effort with several great educators and therapists. It has involved adapting our home life to accommodate Joseph’s needs, with no small amount of sacrifice all around. When Joseph took his first tenuous steps into a troop of 46 boys, I think my anxiety was worse than his. It has been the missing piece of his developmental puzzle.

In his second year, Joseph focussed on learning more about scouting, earning merit badges that encouraged in-depth communication with adult merit badge counselors, participating more fully and intimately on camping trips, and advancing in rank. At the end of his second year he went to summer camp and announced his intention to come back the following year on staff as a counselor in training (CIT). More anxiety for daddy. He then produced a completed application for us to sign, and handed it in on the spot.

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Returning from summer camp, Joseph attended the troop’s leadership training weekend that September and accepted the position of Assistant Patrol Leader. He also asked to be a Den Chief with the Cub Scout Pack (a big brother/liason position), as well as being the troop librarian-accounting for all of the merit badge books. He excelled at all of the positions, with the Cub Scouts asking for him to return-so much was the fun that they had with him.

Then came summer camp this year. Joseph spent all of June and July living at camp on staff as a CIT. The camp director invited him to return next year, and asked us to please facilitate that return. They loved him there, and he loved them. While at camp, he was able to earn two merit badges per week if he desired, which he did. After summer camp, Joseph attended a one week aquatics camp at another scout camp, and earned six more merit badges. In all, he earned a staggering twenty merit badges this summer, adding to his previous seventeen. (One is required to earn a total of 21 to achieve Eagle Scout). At last night’s Troop Court of Honor, though the boys were asked to hold all applause until after all merit badges were handed to all scouts, the hall broke into wild and raucous cheers as all twenty merit badges were read aloud for Joseph. Class act that he is, he turned a gave his brothers a wild grin and scout salute in return.

This summer’s haul:

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American Heritage
Art
Basketry
Canoeing
Communication*
Forestry
Geology
Kayacking
Leatherwork
Lifesaving*
Motorboating
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Music
Nature
Oceanography
Pioneering
Rowing
Small Boat Sailing
Sports
Swimming*
Woodcarving

*Required for Eagle

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Along the way Joseph has become a leader.

This year, he was given his own patrol to lead as Patrol Leader. He has also become a trailblazer, going from being the only scout in the Troop on the spectrum, to being one of about five. God has blessed the troop, which now numbers 67 boys and eight patrols, with ten more boys on the way from Cub Scouts this year.

Regina and I were speechless last night at the Court of Honor. Speechless, but grateful beyond words to the boys and men who have given Joseph a community to which he not only passively belongs, but in which he actively reciprocates. So do we.

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The leaders were commenting last night about how far Joseph has come since his first year, where he came to me constantly in his bewilderment and feelings of being overwhelmed. We all laughed at how he barely has any contact with me anymore. That’s the definition of success. He’s interacting with his peers, making friends, hosting a second annual Super Bowl party for the scouts, etc.

It’s important to be there to help translate the early experience, and to give back. I’m in deep, as assistant scoutmaster, troop chaplain, merit badge counselor for several merit badges, district Catholic committee on scouting, etc. In getting involved, I have been able to educate a great many people on what kids on the spectrum are really all about.
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That’s essential, as we live in dangerous times for those with so-called poor prenatal diagnoses. The autistic learning style, as it is known in our home, demands total devotion from the entire family. That’s quite a bit to ask in a hedonistic culture. These children will be found out in utero in short order, and when they are, the merchants of death will prey on parents’ well-founded fears. They are fears that nearly paralyzed me in those early years. Yet Joseph’s story is a story of hope in the depths of parental fear.

Moreso, it is the story of love’s triumph. As I’ve sat and watched Joseph increasingly taking the younger boys under his wing, and seeing their respect for him, I see how that love cannot be contained. It has taken root in this child and grows wild within him. Not bad for a fourteen year-old kid.

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For any parent of a young autistic child, Regina and I hold out Joseph as not only a symbol of hope, but the sure and certain sign that God keeps His promise as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 and will not allow us to be tried beyond our capacity, and when we are tried, will give us a way out. Sacrificial love, lived totally and completely, is that way out.

It has been our salvation.

We still have no idea how far Joseph will go in life, no more than any other parents do for their children at age fourteen. Some autistic children will achieve demonstrably more than others. The same goes for neurotypical children as well. For all of them, scouting offers a home, a family, a society. And while the achievements are great signposts along the road in life, that’s not at all what I will carry away from this experience when it’s all over.

The spontaneous wild and raucous cheers of his brother scouts last night, reciprocated with an equally spontaneous wild grin and scout salute spoke volumes:

Brotherhood

Love

Respect

Affection

A frightened father’s wildest dreams come true.

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“She loves much because she has been forgiven much.”

The words of Jesus regarding the woman who washed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. That’s how to build a civilization of love. Forgiveness leading to redemption. Only in a redeemed life can love take root and bloom.

In the past week, celebrity chef Paula Deen has come under withering fire for revealing in a deposition that she used a racial epithet DECADES ago, specifically, the N-word. In the ensuing hysteria, many of Deen’s corporate sponsors have jettisoned society’s newest leper. It is a travesty on many levels.

To begin, America has grown over the past half-century. Collectively, we have renounced the racism and bigotry that first enslaved blacks, and then left them destitute and marginalized after they gained their freedom. Many, black and white, paid for this growth with their lives. That’s a point worth remembering, as the blood of the Civil Rights martyrs makes certain demands on those of us who enjoy the level of civilization wrought by that blood.

The first duty we have to the martyrs is to live our lives honorably, to look within and expunge any vestige of bigotry that may have crept in, or have been inculcated by our elders growing up. They purchased this enlightenment with their blood, and we need to earn that by the decency of our lives.

The next duty we have to the martyrs is to ensure that the cause for which they sacrificed their lives is never, EVER, trivialized or coopted by groups with trite or nefarious objectives. The martyrs are the civil equivalent of the saints, and in fact they are saints. But here is precisely where the witch hunt against Deen drags us all down.

Decades ago, a great many people used all sorts of language and humor that just doesn’t fly anymore. I see movies that I once thought hilarious as a youth and cringe at what I was laughing at.

We’ve all grown up.

However, when do we destroy a person’s name and reputation, and for what reason? If it had been revealed that Deen privately holds blacks in desdain today, that would be cause for her corporate sponsors walking away from her. However, how can the use of boorish language have a greater statute of limitations than crimes such as rape or manslaughter? Worse, the standard seems to be applied rather unevenly.

The late Senator Robert Byrd served in the U.S. Senate for more than fifty years. In the 1940’s he recruited 150 men to start a new chapter of the KKK and was elected Exalted Cyclops. As a senator, he voted against the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. He went on to become an elder statesman in the Democrat Party. But foul language from decades ago is enough to undo a celebrity chef?

We are now witnessing the use of race to destroy people for resons entirely unrelated to race. The result will be a new distancing of demographic groups from one another. Given the increasing slaughter of blacks through abortion, and the genocidal program aimed at the black community, it will become increasingly difficult to rally non-blacks to the cause when such McCarthyism is deployed against the very folks we need to recruit as allies.

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Paula Deen came to the grill my Knights of Columbus council ran, the Comfort Grill. She showed with a tractor trailer filled with Smithfield hams, and hugged everyone in sight, including several blacks and hispanics. She came not as a diva, but with a warmth, humility, and sincerity that everyone fondly remembers.

Is that not the fruit of redemption?

In Christianity, who we are is all, not who we were. The Deen saga is just the latest chapter in the de-Chritianizing of America. The power and beauty of the civil rights movement continues to be sullied by those who really don’t care to preserve the love purchased by the blood of the martyrs.

Mrs. Deen, and we, deserve better.

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“Enemies of the human race.”

Justice Scalia points out this characterization of faithful Christians, Jews, and Muslims by the majority of the Supreme Court in today’s gay marriage ruling. Not having read the entire decision, if these are indeed the words of Justice Kennedy, then impeachment proceedings are in order, for such demagoguery gives the government ample ammunition to attack churches, synagogues, and mosques. This was precisely the language used by Hitler, and has been a staple of gay activism going back to the 1980’s and the attacks on Cardinal O’Connor .

“Enemies of the human race.”

These are the kinds of words spoken by tyrants who know that they have no moral or legal authority and seek to eliminate the opposition by incarceration, intimidation, and slaughter.

“Enemies of the human race.”

Remember “tolerance” and “diversity” ??

Me neither.

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Requiem for the Ballerinas

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The corruption of innocence is a deadly sin, because it corrupts the innocents. Better a millstone be tied around the necks of those who corrupt the innocent and they be flung into the sea, said Jesus. He really never pointed out too many particular sins attaching to them a ‘woe betide’. About the only other one was at the Last Supper when He said it would be better had Judas never been born than to betray Him.

So the corruption of the innocent ranks pretty high on the list of deadly sins.

This all comes to mind after attending my children’s dance recital this weekend. Their school has begun to drift from its wholesome moorings, as evidenced by 5-6 year olds in hula skirts turning their backs to the audience, placing one hand on a hip, and shaking their bottoms for a good 15 seconds to the hoots, hollers, whistles and cheers of the audience. It was the loudest and most raucus applause of the show. My three who collectively dance Irish step, tap, modern, and ballet were repulsed.

I was nauseated. Why the cheers for that, and why so demonstrative? It is not disconnected from the societal implosion in the Western World. Little girls don’t aspire to be “hot,” or sexually sophisticated. Left to their own natural development they like pink things and dolls, girly and feminine stuff. They want to be admired and courted, not lusted after and groped. (Left leaning types need not argue with me here. I’ve endured the stupidity for decades and am at the end of my patience with it.)

Yes, girls are different. They are softer when that ground is cultivated and fertilized. There are plenty of orthodox Catholic colleges, as well as Protestant and Mormon schools filled with such women as living testimony and stunning rebukes to the culture that sexualizes young girls.

What I witnessed on Sunday was tame compared to several of my older nieces’ recitals where girls dressed and danced like pole dancers. But the question remains…

Why?

Why do schools teach this, and why do parents pay for, approve, and cheer for it? Why have so many eschewed the femininity and physical strength of ballet for hip hop and jazz with x-rated moves danced to equally disgusting lyrics?

It has something to do with a sexual revolution that is 50 years old, guilty parents, a divorce rate over 50%, and 55 million abortions with 1 in 4 American women having had an abortion by middle age. Add to that empty churches on Sundays and we have the recipe for the cancer that is consuming the greatest, most enlightened civilization the world has ever known.

In short, the innocence of the innocents stands as a howling rebuke of their parents’ past and present sinful lifestyles. Adults, cut off from God, lost and without hope of personal redemption find it easier at some level to inculcate their licentiousness in the children than to clean up their own acts. And what a show it is.

CDC reports that 25% of American girls will contract at least one STD before the age of 19. It goes up from there. For African American girls the percentage is a stunning 48%. Girls are pressured into appearing “hot” for the boys and must endure this added burden during the normal confusion and growing pains of adolescence. The dance schools begin the commodification as early as age three.

And we wonder why for the first time a majority of women prefer cohabitation to marriage. Perhaps because we have trained our sons to value girls as sex objects and not persons with a great intrinsic dignity.

Perhaps because the boys see the parents buying the micro-shorts, mini skirts and revealing tops for the girls.

Perhaps because the boys see the parents getting breast enhancements for the girls as teens.

Perhaps because of all of this the boys no longer fear the girl’s father as they once did.

Perhaps the girls see this betrayal as normative and we have succeeded in defining their dignity down.

By the end of college, many girls have been had by boys well into the double-digits. They have been used, diseased, impregnated, and abandoned. Repeatedly. By their early twenties.

Corrupted in their own fertility and youthful promise.

Spent.

On Sunday I got a good insight into where, and how early it all begins.

We have become a wicked, wicked people.

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Causes and Remedies.

That’s what we want. A nation addicted to fast food and fast answers, where the police solve the crime in one hour on TV (less if we factor in the commercials). The difficulty with real life is that the answers are often elusive. That’s frustrating when calamities on the scale of Sandy Hook are visited on us, because humans cannot bear the chaos of random evil. We need to understand the internal logic of the evil so we can seek to remedy such evil.

“Never Again!” is the mantra.

But it happens again, and again. Each time we ask why, but are left unsatisfied.

Last night the President, speaking in Newtown, asked, “What else can we do?” and then stated that in the coming weeks he would use all the powers of his office in dealing with law enforcement around the nation to address the problem. The talking heads immediately indicated that he was broadly hinting at renewed gun control. Coming from the same administration mired in the Fast and Furious scandal, where licensed guns were allowed to be sold to drug cartels in Mexico, it rings a little hollow.

It also falls into the trap of cheap and easy solutions that are at once illusory and palliative. In the end, the reality is that Sandy Hook and the related tragedies are extremely multifaceted, with no one facet bearing the preponderance of causality. These atrocities occur with the frequency that they do when the very concept of society and civilization breaks down.

They are the symptoms, not the disease.

That’s frightening. But how many are willing to look all about us and recognize the many facets of this disintegration?

A good place to begin is with 19th Century pioneer sociologist, Emile Durkheim, who popularized and redefined the term anomie in his classic 1897 book, Suicide.

The term, anomie means to be without norms. In his book, Durkheim was addressing the societal causes of suicide rather than the personal causes. It was Durkheim’s view that people commit suicide when societal values change rapidly, leaving the individual feeling alienated. These changes can happen when societies either become too rigid, or when they lose their moral foundations. A nice little explanation from Wiki:

The nineteenth century French pioneer sociologist Émile Durkheim borrowed the word from French philosopher Jean-Marie Guyau and used it in his influential book Suicide (1897), outlining the social (and not individual) causes of suicide, characterized by a rapid change of the standards or values of societies (often erroneously referred to as normlessness, and an associated feeling of alienation and purposelessness. He believed that anomie is common when the surrounding society has undergone significant changes in its economic fortunes, whether for good or for worse and, more generally, when there is a significant discrepancy between the ideological theories and values commonly professed and what was actually achievable in everyday life. This is contrary to previous theories on suicide which generally maintained that suicide was precipitated by negative events in a person’s life and their subsequent depression.

In Durkheim’s view, traditional religions often provided the basis for the shared values which the anomic individual lacks. Furthermore, he argued that the division of labor that had been prevalent in economic life since the Industrial Revolution led individuals to pursue egoistic ends rather than seeking the good of a larger community. Robert King Merton also adopted the idea of anomie to develop Strain Theory, defining it as the discrepancy between common social goals and the legitimate means to attain those goals. In other words, an individual suffering from anomie would strive to attain the common goals of a specific society yet would not be able to reach these goals legitimately because of the structural limitations in society. As a result the individual would exhibit deviant behavior.

Against the concept of anomie it isn’t difficult to see that as societal values have changed drastically over the past half-century there has been a concomitant rise in violent crime, sexually transmitted diseases, divorce, abortion (56 million in 40 years), incarceration, etc. At the same time, our students have plummeted from first place in every educational category among the industrialized nations to last place, or next-to-last in every category among the industrialized nations.

Educational and career anomie

According to CDC, 1 in 4 American girls will have an STD by age 19. For African Americans, that number rises to 48%. Factor in illegitimacy rates that rise to the mid-70’s in percentage for African Americans, the recent release of data indicating that for the first time more people are choosing to cohabit than to marry, and the writing is on the wall.

Sexual anomie.

Articles and discussions abound over how fewer and fewer young men are going to college, how women are increasingly frustrated by the lack of maturity and commitment in men in their 20’s and early 30’s. We are now beginning to hear open discussion on the war on boys and the war on men, as evidenced by the spate of TV ads that almost universally portray men as the clueless individual, the butt of the joke. See, too, the portrayal of men in sitcoms and network TV programming. In all of this it is primarily women who are pointing this out.

Interrelational anomie.

In divorce, fathers are frequently absent from the lives of their children, who are raised without the unique guiding role of the father, and deprived of an authentic masculinity for girls to seek in a mate and for boys to emulate. Mothers are often stuck trying to eke out a living with two jobs because of deadbeat ex’s.

In many marriages that don’t end in divorce, internet pornography has corroded any sense of authentic sexuality and expression between spouses. Airbrushed babes make real wives seem like bad porn. Worse yet, women represent an increasing percentage of the market share in porn.

Marital anomie.

The list goes on and on. A forensic analysis of the anomie of any one individual is usually comprised of many constituent anomie components. Just as the person of integrity has integrated several responsibilities and virtues into one virtuous life, the person manifesting disintegration has suffered the collapse of several constituent components in their life leading to an alienation, isolation, and despair that results in either crime, addictions, depression, maladaptive behaviors, suicide, or some combination.

A macro vision of America reveals a radically different country today than the America of 1960. The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, said “No man steps into the same river twice.” Indeed, because the river flows and the waters constituting the river are ever changing. But many rivers have fairly fixed shores that persist over long periods of time.

The past half-century has seen not only new waters, but a radically redirected route of the American river. If we are serious about making “Never Again!!” a reality, then in the weeks and months ahead we will have to move beyond the allure of quick solutions such as gun control, which do not address the anomie which causes the gunman to contemplate such behavior.

In the case of Sandy Hook, the guns were stolen by the son from their lawful owner, his mother. No amount of new legislation will keep socially alienated people from obtaining weapons. There will always be a black market.

The true answer to this mess resides in a recognition that Western Civilization has imploded, and what that means for us. It means an honest look in the mirror and cleaning up the roots of anomie in each of our lives. That means prayer and reconciliation, both with God and with our estranged relationships.

It means looking outward at our struggling neighbors and doing what we can to ease their burdens.

It means addressing the plight of the mentally ill, and of special education students who do not receive adequate resources to ameliorate their anomie.

It means long hard work at rebuilding a Culture of Life and a Civilization of Love.

It will mean ending the holocaust of abortion and all policies that coarsen our sensitivities and dull our appreciation for the value of every single human life, regardless of what developmental stage.

The anomie is the symptom. The question is whether the horror of Sandy Hook will motivate us to do the painful work each of us must do to ensure that this never happens again.

Time will tell.

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From the Los Angeles Times:

In a move that some called historic, the county’s oldest African American civil rights group voted Saturday to endorse same-sex marriage.

The National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People passed a resolution supporting gay marriage at a meeting of its board of directors in Miami, saying it opposed any policy or legislative initiative that “seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the constitutional rights of LGBT citizens.”

Directors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force erupted in applause at their board meeting Saturday as their phones buzzed with the news.

“Today is a historic day,” Rea Carey, executive director of the task force, said a phone interview from Seattle. “This is what leadership looks like in this country.”

The vote marks a national turning point on the issue of gay marriage. President Obama announced this month that he supports gay marriage. A Gallup Poll last year found, for the first time in the poll’s history, that a majority of Americans supported the legalization of gay marriage, 53% to 45%. This year, the poll showed 50% supported it, while 48% opposed it.

“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law,” Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the 103-year-old NAACP said in a statement.

“The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people.”

Read the rest here.

While tragic, it is not at all surprising that the NAACP has taken a course of action that is at odds with the 62% of the black community mentioned in the article, who oppose such unions on religious grounds.

In New York City, 60% of black pregnancies end in abortion and authentic African American leaders such as Dr. Alveda King and the Reverends Catherine Davis, Walter Hoye, Stephen Broden, Clenard Childress, Michael Faulkner, Arnold Culbreth, Dr. LaVerne Tolbert, and Ryan Bomberger (to name a few), cannot get a hearing by the people Rea Carey calls “real leadership.”

With 6/10 of New York Blacks never seeing the light of day, and similar statistics elsewhere, African Americans are locked into what can only be assessed as demographic suicide. The NAACP leadership has thrown in with the same Democrat party that funds Planned Parenthood nationally with a third of a billion dollars annually; and it is this same Planned Parenthood that has been operating some 78% of their centers in minority neighborhoods, commensurate with Margaret Sanger’s Negro Project.

Now this.

It is tempting to assess the NAACP’s recent vote as an indiscriminate siding with anyone who is oppressed. However, if that were so, the NAACP would be joining the Catholic Church and other religious faiths in opposing the HHS contraceptive mandate, which is actually a war on religion.

The truth is that the American people stood by passively and consented to gays and lesbians being granted all of the goods and privileges society once reserved for married couples, everything from adoption rights to shared employment benefits, domestic partnerships protecting housing rights, etc.

The truth is that gays and lesbians were handed everything but a marriage license. We now see the emerging agenda with the emerging punitive measures against military chaplains opposed to performing such weddings.

The truth is that heterosexuals have been far more tolerant and permissive than the gay community is now behaving, and that the NAACP has missed the opportunity to address the new discrimination in America: Gay intolerance of authentic Judeo-Christian morality. It is an intolerance that, to use the NAACP’s words, “seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the constitutional rights of,” traditional Christians.

The truth is that it isn’t leadership being demonstrated by the NAACP. It’s something far worse. I’ve heard the assessments range from sheer cluelessness to something sinister. With almost 2/3 of the people it purports to “lead” opposing same-sex marriage on religious grounds, the NAACP has joined in President Obama’s war on religion. Dragging one’s members by the hair is not the same as leading. Neither is neglecting the demographic suicide that has gripped their community.

This weekend the association purporting the “Advancement of Colored Persons,” ceased to exist. Not willing to address their membership’s demographic suicide, they have thrown in with a president bent on reshaping the Christian faith that sustained them during slavery and the Jim Crow era, as well as the authentic and noble struggle for civil rights. In so doing, the NAACP has abdicated the sacred trust that once made them the noblest and most honorable institution in the United States of America.

The African American community in America, as many other quarters in America, has real needs, real problems that call for real, fresh, and imaginative leadership. Becoming embroiled in a war on the Christian roots of its membership and much of the nation has only cemented in the minds of many the image of an organization that has become thoroughly radicalized.

The rest of the nation should take heart that there are many, many other black leaders committed to authentic equality that respects the constitutional rights of all citizens. We turn now to those leaders and seek the way forward together, a way that is characterized by mutual support and respect.

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The twentieth century saw the greatest advances made in science, technology, and medicine that the world has ever known. Building on the conceptual discoveries of the previous three centuries, we have wrought wonders unimagined in every decade of that century, and continue on unabated in this new century and new millennium. If there has been a down side to all of that fast-paced discovery, it has been the fact that the technological developments have come faster than humanity could process their implications and discern their right use, or whether they ought to be used at all.

Consider this quote from former Chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, Leon Kass, M.D., in Human Cloning and Human Dignity, The Report of the President’s Council on Bioethics. Though dealing specifically with cloning, the principles discussed apply equally to a host of issues.:

“We should not be self-deceived about our ability to set limits on the exploitation of nascent life. What disturbs us today we quickly or eventually get used to; yesterday’s repugnance gives way to tomorrow’s endorsement. A society that already tolerates the destruction of fetuses in the second and third trimesters will hardly be horrified by embryo and fetus farming (including in animal wombs), if this should turn out to be helpful in the cure of dreaded diseases.

“We realize, of course, that many proponents of cloning-for-biomedical-research will recommend regulations designed to prevent just such abuses (that is, the expansion of research to later-stage cloned embryos and fetuses). Refusing to erect a red light to stop research cloning, they will propose various yellow lights intended to assure ourselves that we are proceeding with caution, limits, or tears. Paradoxically, however, the effect might actually be to encourage us to continue proceeding with new (or more hazardous) avenues of research; for, believing that we are being cautious, we have a good conscience about what we do, and we are unable to imagine ourselves as people who could take a morally disastrous next step. We are neither wise enough nor good enough to live without clear limits.”

There were four great “divisions” or “splittings” that technology produced in the twentieth century. Each had catastrophic consequences that have contributed to the corrosion of civilization. Each involves the severing of unitive bonds with an uncontrolled release of energy that has been every bit as destructive as the intact bonds are productive. Three of these have been particularly catastrophic for women.

The first great splitting came at the Lambeth Conference of 1930, when the Anglican Church split away from the rest of Christendom and became the first Christian church to embrace artificial contraception. Never before had any Christian church held that the splitting, or separation of the Unitive and Procreative dimensions of marital sex was moral. Over the next few decades most all other Christian churches followed the Anglicans, with catastrophic consequences.

Looking at the moral and familial disintegration occurring in the churches who embraced contraception, as well as those quarters of the Catholic Church where the same was occurring, Pope Paul VI, in 1968, penned Humanae Vitae, the binding encyclical that explicated and reinforced 2,000 years of Catholic teaching about the beauty and sanctity of sex as designed by God in His order for creation. It also warned of the consequences of splitting the unitive from the procreative. Those who have suffered the most have been women, as contraception frees men to follow their most base and animal instincts, making of women’s bodies mere playthings.

What contraception cannot eliminate is the brain biochemistry of women where sex releases the hormone oxytocin, which is involved in producing feelings of bondedness and belonging. It doesn’t take too much violation of the bondedness to induce cynicism, apathy, and despair. If indeed there was a war between the sexes in the 1960’s, the pill did nothing but intensify it and add dimensions that never before existed.

The second great splitting was that of the atom; specifically, the splitting of the atomic nucleus. The bonds that hold the nuclear particles together are so strong that a grapefruit-sized amount of Uranium whose nuclei are split, through fission as it is called, can produce enough energy in an uncontrolled reaction to blow up a city. When the scientists of the Manhattan Project in World War II wanted to slow down and discuss the ethical implications of the bomb they had just invented, they were rebuffed by a military weary of the World War it had been fighting for close to four years, and saw it as the means to avoid millions of casualties in an invasion of the Japanese home islands. The rest is history.

The third great splitting that occurred came in the late 1970’s with in vitro fertilization (IVF). In IVF, eggs are taken from the mother’s ovaries and sperm is collected from the father (who is given a plastic cup and ushered to a private setting for self-expression). The gametes are then mixed in a Petri dish by a lab technician and fertilization occurs. The dozens of embryos thus produced are graded and sorted. The least viable-looking are simply discarded. The best are implanted in the mother’s womb, and the rest are submerged and frozen in liquid nitrogen at –320 degrees F.

A tragic consequence of this splitting is the consent of the desperate mother to this barbaric treatment of her offspring, often not perceived as such by the woman whose desperation blinds her.

If contraception split the unitive from the procreative dimensions of the marital embrace, then IVF has gone further to split the procreative dimension itself by actually negating the need for a marital embrace at all. It also introduced the first division of motherhood’s integrated unity. IVF removes the events of fertilization from within the mother and posits them in the Petri dish. In splitting the marital embrace, husband and wife are reduced from co-creators with God to the role of mere sideline observers in the laboratory as the technicians go about the work of procreation by being the agents who facilitate the union of egg and sperm.

In very short order sperm and egg donation in IVF expanded to any permutation of donors. Couples (many not even married) were engaging in eugenic creations of babies by soliciting sperm and egg donors from Ivy League students. If IVF was the technology for couples with problems rooted in the pathophysiology of conception, the next logical accommodation was made for those where women could not, or would not, carry a baby to term.

That accommodation was the fourth great splitting of the twentieth-century: Surrogate Motherhood. Surrogate motherhood takes the integrated unity of normal female reproduction and divides it across two (or more) women. In the case of the married couple, IVF is performed and then a surrogate is solicited to accept implantation of the embryo and gestate the child for the couple. Surrogates are paid in the tens of thousands of dollars for their services.

The problem with surrogate motherhood is that it isn’t.

It isn’t surrogacy. It’s a critical component of what is supposed to be an integrated physiological process of reproduction.

The legal and ethical communities quickly agreed that the mother was the egg donor for IVF who contracted the services of the surrogate. In my senior thesis in college I argued against this understanding, and remain opposed to it today. A child may now have five parents: egg donor, sperm donor, married couple who procured said egg and sperm for IVF, and surrogate (gestational mother).

Many Catholic bioethicists posit motherhood in the egg donor who is also the married (or not) woman procuring IVF and the services of the surrogate.

It’s a huge mistake to take so simplified a view.

The truth of the matter is that both egg donor and gestational mother are the biological mothers of the child. To say, ethically, that the “real” mother is the egg donor is to blind oneself to the nine months of embryonic and fetal development that occur in the womb. The bondedness of mother and child have as their most proximal and powerful origins the mutual growth together during nine months of gestation, and not the more distal ovulation and fertilization (which the egg donor does not participate in with IVF).

Motherhood is more, much more, than the donation of half an individual’s chromosomal content. If Catholic bioethicists cannot see that nine months of gestation are the second half of the biological equation and produce an intimacy and union between woman and child, an intimacy forged within the created order of gestation, then we are in trouble.

The truth is that God’s created order has been artificially divided within women. First with the division wrought by contraception, which makes of women the very sex objects inveighed against by the feminists of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Then, the integrated unity of the procreative dimension of human sexuality itself is split by IVF and further subdivided by surrogacy, with the end result being that two women can each claim a biological component of motherhood: fertilization and gestation.

Specifically, the baby’s growth and development are all facilitated by the woman in whose womb the child grows. The baby is literally bone of her bone, flesh of her flesh. Lost in all of this technological revolution has been the great dignity of women and motherhood. (We’ll save the discussion on men and fatherhood for another day)

To add further to the disintegration, motherhood has been completely commodified, from the sale of eggs for thousands of dollars, to paid surrogates. Our women have been dismantled and their parts and functions sold to the highest bidders. All of this in the name of a feminism that sought freedom from women’s biology, which was held out to them as nature’s chains of oppression.

Just because we can do something does not mean that we ought to. In forty years we have slowly and imperceptibly come to a place most of us never thought we would come to. When the created order of human bonds is split, the destruction is every bit as catastrophic as the splitting of the bonds that unite the atomic nucleus. The prophets of the twentieth-century have been the Catholic popes and bishops, who have been ridiculed mercilessly. Looking at the ever-widening debris field, perhaps it’s time for another consideration of their unitive message.

Kass was quite correct:

“We are neither wise enough nor good enough to live without clear limits.”

To all of the mothers who give great witness through their loving sacrifices, their example of faith, and to those who came to motherhood through a process of disintegration the pain of childlessness blinded them to,

Happy Mother’s Day.

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About a year ago I met Reggie Littlejohn, Founder and President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers. Reggie, an attorney, has been actively and doggedly engaged in efforts to stop forced abortions and forced sterilizations in China, making frequent trips to meet with our elected representatives in Washington, D.C.

The pro-life blogosphere and wider community have embraced Reggie and aided her in getting out the word on what has been going on in China. It has been Reggie who has made known to Americans the plight of blind activist Chen Guangcheng, who has been persecuted by his government for his efforts to stop the forced abortions and sterilizations of women in China. Consequently, Chen’s name and story have been made well known by Reggie here in the States for some time now.

Perhaps the mainstream media will get the credit for breaking the story, but here at Coming Home all due credit goes to my friend Reggie, who inspires me with her courage, her faith, and her love for the oppressed.

Bravo, Reggie!

Reggie’s work requires the generous support of the pro-life community. She has sacrificed in every imaginable way to press home her authentic feminist support of our sisters in China, and I can think of no greater victory for Reggie than the widespread telling of the story whose groundwork was laid by this solitary and indefatigable warrior. Please consider visiting her site and supporting her work with whatever means, no matter how small, you may be able to share.

God Bless You, Reggie. God has honored the work for which you and Chen have sacrificed so much.

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Today, President Obama threw his support behind same-sex marriage. Thank God! The mask is off, six months before the election and about a year since he announced that he was willfully violating his Oath of Office by ordering the Justice Department to cease defending the law in court. Specifically, he ordered an end to defending The Defense of Marriage Act.

It is the duty of the Executive Branch to see to it that the duly constituted laws of the land are executed and defended by attorneys general. Hasn’t that been the battle cry of Catholic governors who plead their personal opposition to abortion, but must uphold the law of the land with all of the resources of the Executive?

What Obama has done is actively define dictatorship by the selective upholding and prosecution of the laws. This eviscerates the legislative branch of government and turns the law into the personal prerogative of one man. If anyone claimed ignorance in voting for Obama the first time, he has made his agenda plain for all to see this time around. In not defending the Defense of Marriage Act and now openly declaring support for the redefinition of marriage, the president has declared war on the central institution of all organized religion. The question arises in many quarters…

“So What?”

It’s actually not so benign. For openers, heterosexuals have made a mess of marriage, with no-fault divorce and divorce rates hovering in the 50% range for decades. Still, if we have made a mess of our institution, the truth remains that it is OUR institution to fix.

A core reason for marriage is the universally recognized need of children to have a biological mother and father, each of whom brings their complementary strengths to bear on the formation of their new human beings. Modern research has overwhelmingly borne out the truth that children do best when raised by their biological mother and father, who both reside with the child under the same roof. The pathologies in children increase in proportion to the degree to which the biological parents drop out of the child’s life. That’s not conservative talking points. That’s well-established social scientific data.

Part of the pathology of gay/lesbian marriages (and most divorces in heterosexuals) is the belief that a child can do just fine without a mother or a father. At least in divorce the reality of one-parental involvement is a tragic consequence. In gay and lesbian unions it is a principled and celebrated world-view.

Worse still is the implicit validation of what some in the homosexual community call heterosexuals aloud: breeders. Gay men who donate sperm for IVF and surrogate motherhood merely use women as barnyard livestock. (So do the heterosexuals who pioneered and grew this beastly industry.)

Breeders.

Lesbian couples seeking sperm donations for either insemination or IVF do as much with men: Stud animals.

The entire affair signals the collapse of Western/Christian Civilization. We have lost sight of who we are, what our children require, and have subordinated their needs to our narcissistic and hedonistic obsessions.

There is nothing sweet and benign about two men determining that they are just as good as a mother. Such belief betrays their hostility toward women at the biological and metaphysical core of womanhood. The same for lesbians with men.

Bioethics has as a prerequisite that we know who we are, what our nature is and is not. It is concerned with the right use of technology and prudential judgement. When society embraces such institutionalized pathology it is impossible to have a coherent national discussion about how we treat ourselves and one another.

If we can’t agree on who and what we are, then anything goes.

If we cannot agree on who and what we are, then we will have that dictated to us by the government. Never in the history of any human civilization has a dictatorial government acted with beneficence or charitable forbearance. They have all treated their people as so much livestock. This time around, it is the people who have thus defined themselves. Tragically, there will always be a willing dictator ready to oblige.

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