Sunday, January 29, 2017

Pro-lifers are only pro-birth? Hardly

Anyone who is outspokenly pro-life has encountered some variation of the argument, "You prolifers are only concerned about the baby being born, but don't care about the child after."

It's an argument designed to insult prolifers  - an ad hominem attack - and to steer the discussion away for the central issue: Abortion kills a human being.

Through ChurchPop I encountered one good response to this argument, "Seven Arguments to the 'Pro-lifers" are just Pro-birth' argument," by Joe Heschmeyer.

Joe's seven points:

1. Even if the argument were true, it would be ridiculous.
2. The argument is logically fallacious.
3. The argument is unspeakably melodramatic.
4. The argument is hypocritical.
5. The argument is more than a little condescending.
6. The argument is demonstrably false.
7. The real debate is about the means, not the ends.

Read the rest over at Shameless Popery.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, January 28, 2017


I haven't see the movie Silence yet. I will eventually - though I may wait until it comes out on DVD.

But I am reading the book on which the movie is based, Silence, by Shusaku Endo. Endo is sometimes likened to Graham Greene, and in this novel about a hunted priest captured by the government I do see similarities to The Power and the Glory.

I'd heard about  the novel before the movie came out. I'd seen it on several "Greatest Catholic Novels" lists, so I'd bought a copy and had it on my bookshelf for a while. The movie just prompted me to finally read it. 

I'm about half way through. I'm enjoying it so far. The depiction of what is going through the priest's mind as he sneaks into Japan during the 17th Century when the Japanese government tried to crush Catholicism in Japan is believable. He is optimistic, heroic, then afraid, and when captured struggling not to betray his faith. I don't know what will happen in the end, but given what I've read so far I suspect the character will apostatize.

The "Silence" of the title has come up so far in terms of the supposed silence of God in response to the priest's prayers. I'm reminded of so many saints and mystics who talk about periods when they seemed to feel no sense of God, and seem to encounter only "silence."
Endo is such a good writer I want to continue to find out what does happen.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Most Viewed Inauguration? Well ...

Sean Spicer's claim that this was the biggest inauguration in terms of the number of people attending and watching is under attack and being mocked in the media and on social media.
At the time he said it, it struck me as  a foolish thing to say - but quite typical of President Trump's hyperbolic style.
But is it an outright lie many Trump opponents are claiming?
There were certainly fewer people there in person that compared to President Obama's 2009 inauguration. And the reported television numbers were down this year compared to 2009 (though I don't know what the final numbers are).
So if we just consider those, Spicer's claim is clearly not true.
BUT ...
I know a number of people who watched the inaugural on the internet this time around - on their phones and on computers - while they were at work, or even because that's their preferred way to view. My daughters, for example, rarely watch television; everything is online.
This kind of viewing was far less common in 2009. I know I was not able to watch that inauguration then because I was at work and had no such access.
And, that kind of  internet viewing is now far more common around the world as well. Moreover, Trump is an international celebrity.
So, it's possible while the actually attendance and television  viewership were down, the overall viewership was actually as large, if not larger.
Spicer still might be wrong, but he could also be right. Given the uncertainty, calling him a liar doesn't seem justified at the moment.
Pax et bonum

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Meat of the Women's March

Imagine a meat cake.

Made of liver, or maybe head cheese. Something most would find unpleasant. Minced and mixed with whatever is needed to hold it together, maybe an egg or two and some breading. Then baked in round cake pans, and cooled once solid. And after that frosted with all the frills and flowers and candies and so on so that it looks lovely.

Then imagine people looking at and admiring and praising this beautiful cake.

But then they cut in and find the meat.

That's how I view the Women's March.

They've coated it with all sorts of issues - Trump's vulgar comments and actions, his insults, his statements about Muslims and immigrants, as well as respect for women, health care for the poor, and so on. Issues that many people care about.

But when you go beneath all those issues that attract people you find the vile meat - the reality of the march.


That's what this march is really about.

That's why the organizers have not responded to overtures by prolife feminist groups to be sponsors or to help with organizing. And more recently, when March organizers found out that one feminist group that they had accepted was prolife they removed the group from the list of sponsors. As one of the people pushing the prolife group out tweeted:

"Intersectional feminism does not include a pro-life agenda. That's not how it works! The right to choose is a fundamental part of feminism."

Another person tweeted: "Horrified that the @womensmarch has partnered w/an anti-choice org. Plse reconsider - inclusivity is not about bolstering those who harm us."

Finally, the organizers issued a statement declaring "The Women's March's platform is pro-choice and that has been our stance from day one." And they apologized for letting a pro-life group in, and said the prolifers had been removed..

I know many caring people, including many Catholic people, who plan to take part in the March in Washington or one of the local marches not realizing that what they are really do is marching to defend abortion.

But if you try to tell them, they cite all those other issues.

The frosting the abortion advocates used to disguise their purpose.

They have a long track record of doing that.

And so far, they've gotten away with it.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

St. Jerome clerihew

Irascible St. Jerome
was justly noted for his biblical tome,
but he was upset that no one would look
at his vegetarian cook book.

Pax et bonum

Monday, January 16, 2017

On those protests against Trump

watching the snowflakes
drift down and melt away -         


A poet friend sent me information about an online protest against Donald Trump by writers and poets. The information from the organizers contained more of the same negative, prejudging, critical comments typical of these protests. 

I said I found the protest - and similar efforts - silly and misguided and trendy. I noted that while I did not support or vote for Trump and while I was troubled by some of the things he has said, he has not been inaugurated and has not officially done anything yet worthy of protesting. I said we need to wait until he actually does something, then, if we are troubled, protest. And I argued that knee-jerk protesting might undermine the protesters' credibility making it harder to protest specific things later. 

The friend noted that he has already said many troubling things, and that he has nominated objectionable people for Cabinet and administration positions. He said I had optimism that he did not share. 

I responded with the following: 

Optimism? Perhaps, but I prefer to think of it as following the lead of Mahatma Gandhi who believed there was good in all people and who sought to call forth that goodness. He never protested until the person whose actions he was protesting actually did - not just talked about - what Gandhi was protesting. Moreover, when he protested the protest was focused, with a clear goal that was obtainable. He did not stage broad, amorphous, vitriolic protests. 

Too much of what I see of these anti-Trump efforts are scattershot, with too much of the kitchen sink approach, and not taking into account changes and adjustments in his statements and positions. Indeed, many of the protests seem to be about yelling and screaming for the sake of yelling and screaming just for the fun of yelling and screaming and because all the right people are yelling and screaming. I suspect if Gandhi were around today he would write letters to and articles about Mr. Trump cautioning him and advising him, but not protesting until Trump actually did anything worth protesting and only when there was a chance of success. 

I understand the fear that some people feel, but sometimes that fear is based on perceptions and not reality. And while Trump does say and do much that is troubling, the protesters often seem to ignore when he has done some reasonable and generous things, and rather than engaging in dialogue to promote what is best for the country and to build on what is good - as Gandhi would have done - they seem more intent on stereotyping, name-calling, and mocking. I see a lot of hate and bigotry in the language of those who attack Trump's alleged hate and bigotry. 

I wrote another short comment, then went off to do  other things. When I later tried to return to the thread I was not able to - don't know if I was officially blocked, or the thread was removed. But my comments were also gone.

So much for free speech and sharing views. 

So many of the protests seem to be based on misinformation, outdated information, opponent talking points and so on. And with some, there is are agendas that some of those caught up into the emotion of the moment may not be aware. I have Catholic friends who plan to take part in the Women's marches, for example, without realizing that those marches are really about abortion and other concerns that go against Catholic teachings. 

But if you dare to point that out, you are dismissed or cut off. 

Just as the "free-speech" promoting writers apparently did. 

I suspect I will protest some of the things Trump says he'll do if he does indeed go ahead and do them. But I will wait until he actually does them, look at what he has done, and judge if the issue is worthy of protest and is one to which there is a better alternative. 

Pax et bonum

Saturday, January 14, 2017

On the passing of a friend

As I noted in an earlier post, I had been sending light poems to a friend who was dying of cancer in hopes that it might provide a little relief. She died the same day that I sent her another batch of poems.

Last night I went to the wake/viewing. There was a long line; she was a much loved friend, teacher, and member of the deacon program.

When I got to her husband, we shook hands, then hugged. He thanked me for the poetry, noting that she was unable to read by the time she received them, but that he had read them to her. He said she smiled and said, "That's Lee."

That was kind of him.

I then looked at her in the coffin. What with the years and the effects of illness she did not look like the friend I had known. It was as if I was looking at a stranger. I felt so sad. So distant.

I said a few prayers and a goodbye, watched the slide show, and then quietly left.

Outside, there was a full moon.

a full moon
sends shadows across my path -
leaving a friend's wake

Pax et bonum

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Torricelli clerihew

Evangelista Torricelli
was fond of refried beans and jalapeno jelly.
One of his lesser-known achievements was a way to measure
frequent bouts of abdominal pressure.

(Torricelli was an Italian scientists who among his many achievements created the barometer to measure atmospheric pressure.)

Pax et bonum

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Will Planned Parenthood have to get out its begging cup?

The rumblings from Washington suggest Planned Parenthood will lose its million of dollars of tax-payer financed federal funding soon.

Planned Parenthood and its supporters, not surprisingly, are screaming about the loss of health care for women if they are not getting that funding.

Of course, Planned Parenthood's main focus, abortion, is not health care. And I don't believe our tax dollars should be going toward recreational drugs like birth control pills.

But some Planned Parenthood affiliates do offer some legitimate health services such as STD tests and pap smears. Such care is overshadowed by the evil services they offer, but they are offered.

However, those services are available elsewhere though many health care facilities. Indeed, there are far more such legitimate facilities than there are Planned Parenthood clinics, and many of those real health care facilities could use some of that federal money.

What I would like to see is the money that is being given to Planned Parenthood be redirected to those legitimate health care facilities. Women who need help should not be denied.

As for Planned Parenthood, if they want to replace the funding, they should ask for the support of their supporters. I suspect their good friend Hillary Clinton has a few dollars left from her failed Presidential bid.

Then maybe they'll find out how much people really want or support them.

Or not.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, January 1, 2017

In Praise of Mr. Rogers

When I was young, one of my favorite children's programs was Captain Kangaroo. The Captain (Bob Keeshan) was a gentle, comfortable, but sometimes silly character who interacted with live friends like Mr. Green Jeans (Hugh Brannum) and assorted puppets - Mr. Moose, Bunny Rabbit, and Dancing Bear especially.

By the time my daughters were born the Captain was essentially off the air (except for some reruns). But they did watch Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, which featured the gentle, comfortable Mr. (Fred) Rogers along with live performers - especially Mr. McFeely (David Newell) and Lady (Betty) Aberlin, and puppets such as Daniel Striped Tiger, Bob Dog, King Friday XII, X the Owl, and more.

The show introduced music and the arts, dealt with issues children face, promoted love and acceptance and caring about others. In a frantic, sometimes dark world, the show gave the children a chance to slow down and find peace and quiet, and to exercise their imaginations.

Alas, the girls eventually stopped watching the show and they grew older and went to school, but I always had a fondness for it and Mr. Rogers' wise, wonderful, positive view of the world.

A few years back, one of my daughters gave me a copy of a book published after Mr. Rogers' death in 2003, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember, a collection of his observations, memories, songs, and even the speech he gave when he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999.

I loved the gift, sampled some of the entries, then put it on the bookcase planning to read it. I recently rediscovered it, and feeling the need these days for some positive, uplifting sentiments, I read it all the way through.

It did not disappoint. Part of joy of it is the seeming simplicity of the ideas.

You bring all you ever were and are to any relationship you have today.

One of the most essential ways of saying "I love you" is being a receptive listener.

I like to try to understand the meaning of who people are and what they're saying to me.

Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else.

Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime's work, but it's worth the effort.

Reading it makes me want to be a better, kinder, more caring person

This is a book I will continue to sample and will want to read again.

Pax et bonum

These Franciscan Friars Totally Rock at the "Cup Game"!

Something light - and Franciscan - with which to start the new year.

These Franciscan Friars Totally Rock at the "Cup Game"! | ChurchPOP

Pax et bonum