:: Thursday, August 29, 2002 ::
Words to Remember
On the Day of Prayer in Assisi last January, Pope John Paul II said it "is essential... that religious people and communities should in the clearest and most radical way repudiate violence, all violence, starting with the violence that seeks to clothe itself in religion, appealing even to the most holy name of God in order to offend man. To offend against man is, most certainly, to offend against God. There is no religious goal that can possibly justify the use of violence by man against man."
Pope John Paul II said in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) that we live in a "culture of death." The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has said that in order to overthrow the culture of death, we must first confront our "culture of violence." What do they mean by that term?
Increasingly, our society looks to violent measures to deal with some of our most difficult social problems -- millions of abortions to address problem pregnancies, advocacy of euthanasia and assisted suicide to cope with the burdens of age and illness, and increased reliance on the death penalty to deal with crime. We are tragically turning to violence in the search for quick and easy answers to complex human problems. A society which destroys its children, abandons its old and relies on vengeance fails fundamental moral tests. Violence is not the solution; it is the most clear sign of our failures. We are losing our respect for human life. How do we teach the young to curb their violence when we embrace it as the solution to social problems?
See the whole USCCB document "Confronting a Culture of Violence" here.
:: John 8/29/2002 06:30:00 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, August 28, 2002 ::
What's the World Coming To?
Michael Jameson's been blogging more than I have!
:: John 8/29/2002 06:05:00 PM [+] ::
:: Saturday, August 24, 2002 ::
Press Release from Feminists for Life
When was the last time you heard good coverage about anything pro-life in the
mainstream media? Below is a transcription of the FOX News coverage of FFL President Serrin
Foster's lecture at the University of San Diego last April.
With "Feminists for Life" in the pop-up window behind the anchorwoman, she says,
"The 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade is coming up. And there is a polarized
debate over whether we should have legal abortions or make a change to make it
illegal. FOX News reporter Pete Fuentes is live at the University of San Diego."
Reporter: "I thought all feminists were pro-choice which means they are for
abortions. Now tonight I found something different. An organization called
Feminists for Life hit campus with their take on pro-life."
(Film begins with beautiful images of a fetus developing in the womb -- thumb
sucking, etc.) "A niche has emerged in the abortion issue. Feminists for Life is
an organization that tries to solve the problems which drive women to abortions.
(Cut to interview with FFL President Serrin Foster.)
Serrin: "Our part in the abortion debate is -- once someone is pregnant -- what
can we do to make a difference for her."
(Cut to Serrin's lecture showing hundreds of students listening, and a baby in
front of the camera.) Foster asks the audience, "How many of you are aware that
the early American Feminists worked to outlaw abortion in this country?"
Serrin Foster is president of Feminists for Life. The national organization
targets college students because the biggest segment of the population that have
abortions are people like these. (Shows students in audience.)
Serrin: "One out of five women who have an abortion are college women. It is a
direct reflection that we have failed women -- in particular on college
Reporter: "Foster offers something called pregnancy kits, or a list of resources
of people to call for health and day care, or help in college studies, or a
place to live." (Shows materials from the Women's Resource Committee in San
NOW rep: "Feminism is the social and political equality of women and men."
Reporter: "Cindy Marzoff of the National Organization for Women says this
message of feminist movement by its message is misleading." [sic]
NOW rep: "By opposing a woman's right to control her own body, that's not
feminism because that is not really about equality. If women can't control their
body she is not free and if she is not free she is not equal."
Reporter: "Meanwhile pro-lifers like Serrin Foster support all pregnancies even
in cases of rape. (Video shows a happy woman looking at her newborn child.)
Foster believes Americans should refuse to choose between women and children."
Foster: "I think we should concentrate on making abortion unthinkable because
every woman deserves better than an abortion."
"Now Feminists for Life says telecommuting -- and of course computer and the
Internet -- have made it easier for [pregnant] students to attend school."
(Fuentes holds up FFL brochures.) "Brochures like these spell out the options
that students have to keep their baby. We are live at the University of San
Diego. Fox 6 News."
Anchor: "People are going to want to know how to get those brochures." They
discuss how to reach FFL.
Feminists for Life is getting through the media filter, and changing hearts and minds of those
at highest risk of abortion! Check out Feminists for Life's speaking engagement schedule here to find out when FFL will be visiting a campus near you!
Anti-Catholicism Often Facilitates Conversions to Catholicism
Strange as it may sound, the title statement is true. Mark Shea's blog recently explained one of the ways this was true for him. I had very similar experiences.
As I grew closer and closer to accepting Catholicism, I read more and more anti-Catholic literature: from Jack Chick's books, comic books, and tracts to Lorraine Boettner's Roman Catholicism and anything else I could get my hands on. I continued to read Calvinist theology books (I had been deep into Calvinism when I began to discover Catholicism was more biblical). I asked my Baptist theology professors to voice their most serious objections to Catholicism. And the more anti-Catholic literature I read, the more I thought, "If these are the best reasons to stay away, I'm definitely going to become Catholic." Even after I became Catholic I continued to read as much anti-Catholic literature as I could. It's kinda like Bertrand Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian (one of my favorite books). For those with an ironic spirit, it makes for great devotional literature!
The Festivity Behind the Feast
If you didn't get this link from Mark Shea, here is the fantastic Josef Pieper-esque look at the fabulous film Babette's Feast. Print a copy, read it carefully, and make time for leisure.
Transliteration Pet Peeves
According to the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia, "Alleluia, not Hallelujah, is the traditional Christian and proper English form of transcription." I could not disagree more. The original Hebrew word is hllwyh [which is already a transliteration --blogspot doesn't do Hebrew], meaning "Praise [be to] YHWH." Note that the Hebrew word begins with the letter hay (H) and that the last two letters are yod & hay (YH), which signify the divine Name (YHWH). Alleluia is a Medieval Latin form. Note the total lack of H-sounding letters, and that the ending IA doesn't call to mind the divine Name at all. Why would anyone prefer a Latinized form of a Hebrew word? I sure don't.
:: John 8/28/2002 02:19:00 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, August 21, 2002 ::
Prioritizing Promise Keepers
My brother called me last night and read this excerpt to me from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's article "Promise Keepers Score a Sellout at Savvis Center, Despite Decline in Popularity":
A Promise Keeper is encouraged to:
Now just to be sure the Post-Dispatch was conveying accurate information, I checked out the "Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper" on the official site. The Post-Dispatch list was legit. I just can't believe I'm reading this right.
1. Honor Jesus Christ through worship, prayer and obedience to God's word.
2. Pursue vital relationships with a few other men, understanding that brothers help each other keep their promises.
3. Practice spiritual, moral, ethical and sexual purity.
4. Build strong marriages, families through love, protection and biblical values.
5. Support the mission of his church by honoring and praying for his pastor, and by giving his time and resources.
6. Reach beyond racial and denominational barriers for biblical unity.
7. Influence his world, love one's neighbor and spread the Gospel.
"So what's the problem?" you may be asking. "Aren't those good goals?" Sure. My problem is the ordering of the list. Guess what, guys? Your marriages and families are a much higher priority than "vital relationships with a few other men." You have a real live covenant with your family that you don't share with your buddies, no matter what great stuff they're into.
Think I'm overreacting? I'm not. People do need to be told this. I went to a university where men and women formed little same-sex groups, like fraternities and sorrorities with less drinking and more prayer, and bound themselves up in pseudo-covenants and weekly "obligations" (e.g. 4 nights a week). My brother was in one of these groups when we were in school together, and I had to fight tooth-and-nail to spend time with him. Whenever he missed an "obligation" there was a massive guilt-trip fest. If a guy wanted to go on a date with a girl (potential for a real covenant) on Friday night instead of going to some group obligation to sing Kumbaya and get all weepy with his "brothers," there was a massive guilt-trip fest. It was insufferable.
So I say again to the Promise Keeper types: Your marriages and families are a much higher priority than "vital relationships with a few other men." Get it straight.
I'm not saying this to disrespect the legitimate brotherhood of Christians in Christ. We Christian men and women are members of the same Body, and in that sense we really are covenanted to each other. And we really do need each other (1Cor. 12:12-27). Just don't create artificial "obligations" that turn out to be counter-productive, "obligations" that keep you away from the relationships and responsibilities you already have.
Also, don't you think promise #6 is really a subset of #7? I think it's good to make #6 explicit, but #7 should come first.
PS: I felt very vindicated when my brother's dog tore up his pseudo-covenant.
A Parish Just for Me
Click here to see a photo of Sts. Augustine & John Catholic Church on Thomas Street in Dublin (Ireland). There's also a painting of Sts. Augustine & John together here. Can anyone explain to me why St. John tends to look like a girl in Western Catholic art?
:: John 8/24/2002 05:53:00 PM [+] ::
Abortion as Oppression
The following ran in the page 2 "Culture, etc." briefs of the Washington Times today:
"When she published 'The Female Eunuch' in 1972, Germaine Greer advocated a life based on sexual license as the path to personal fulfillment. Greer practiced what she preached in 1972. As a result, she could no longer have a child because her several abortions left her sterile and suffering from other gynecological health problems.
"Almost 30 years later at age 50, she wrote 'The Whole Woman.' While not completely changing her pro-choice stance, Greer argues that abortion is a sign, not of liberation, but of oppression. Anecdotal evidence and personal testimonies increasingly portray a situation that is anything but pro-woman. Despite the incidents of malpractice and abuse, the $90 billion abortion industry remains largely unregulated.
"Currently, veterinary clinics in the state of New York are required to follow more guidelines than abortion clinics. For instance, a woman who decides to have an abortion will be attended by a clinic worker who may not even satisfy the criteria necessary to handle her dog at an animal hospital."
--Pia de Solenni
It's good to hear that Germaine Greer is figuring out what Feminists for Life has known all along. "Forty-million abortions are a reflection that we have failed women -- and women have settled for less," said Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life of America. "It is time for us to systematically eliminate the coercive factors that drive women to abortion -- primarily the lack of practical resources and emotional support. We invite all organizations -- including women's organizations that differ with us on abortion -- to join us. Every woman deserves better. We don't have to settle for less."
Want to read more by and about FFLA President Serrin Foster? Check out these links:
Serrin Foster’s speech entitled "The Feminist Case Against Abortion" is included in Jennifer Hurley's Women's Rights anthology of the Great Speeches in History series.
Serrin Foster believes the college campus culture promotes abortion. "Pregnancy is not socially acceptable. That's why you don't see many visibly pregnant students on campuses," says Foster. "[Pregnant college students usually] don't have a place to live; [they] don't have day care; [they] don't have maternity coverage. The institutions force women to choose between sacrificing their education or career goals and their child. There's this really hostile thing about women having babies. Women who are visibly pregnant on college campuses are treated like exotic animals." You can change this. Please support Feminists for Life's College Outreach Program.
A March 7, 2001, Washington Times article about the success of Pregnancy Resource Forums at Georgetown University ("Georgetown Helps to Keep Pregnant Students in School") led to this super followup letter by Serrin Foster. Unfortunately, the Washington Times requires a fee if you want to read the original article in their archives.
New from Feminists for Life: Pro-Woman Answers to Pro-Choice Questions.
Building a Mystery
Remember when Sarah McLachlan refused to allow Feminists for Life space at the Lilith Fair music festival, despite Lilith Fair's lofty goal of wanting to "raise consciousness about issues that affect women's lives"? No? Check it out.
Find Your Vocation
This is hilarious! Find out what religious order you should belong to! I'm Order of St. John Bosco:
what's your order?
:: John 8/21/2002 08:03:00 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, August 19, 2002 ::
More Reflections on Covenant & Mission
There's a press release at the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops site clarifying the nature & meaning of the Reflections on Covenant & Mission document. By all means, please read it, folks.
There's also an excellent, must-read commentary on the document on Mark Shea's blogspot by the ever-cool Mike Epstein. Not to be missed!
:: John 8/21/2002 03:26:00 AM [+] ::
:: Saturday, August 17, 2002 ::
Reflections on Covenant & Mission
Everywhere I look, some fellow Catholic or other is raising a huge angry hullaballoo about Reflections on Covenant & Mission by the National Council Of Synagogues and Delegates of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, which is why I'm providing a link to the actual document rather than someone else's personal commentary.
I don't think the document's half as bad as people are claiming. My biggest gripes are two:
- Some passages of the document are extremely ambiguous. (E.g. what does it mean to say "Jews already dwell in a saving covenant with God"?) These passages can be interpreted either in ways that seem orthodox (e.g. the Jews are covenanted with Jesus, who is God, and that may become explicit to them as the world is evangelized, etc.) or in ways that seem heterodox (e.g. there's one covenant without Jesus for Jews and another covenant with Jesus for goyim, etc.). For myself, I'm going to assume that nothing heterodox was intended and let the Vatican sort out whether there are any actual errors. But such ambiguity is a serious defect, and I would respectfully suggest that this document was not yet truly ready for publication.
- Some sectors of the media are grossly misrepresenting this document (and, what's worse, many Catholics are taking their word for it). For example, the Boston Globe introduced the document with the headline "Catholics Reject Evangelization of Jews." The actual document says, "The Catholic Church must always evangelize and will always witness to its faith in the presence of God's kingdom in Jesus Christ to Jews and to all other people." Could two more contradictory statements be imagined? It just goes to show that if you plan to get involved in a discussion like this, you must read the document firsthand and seriously question other people's interpretations. (And that, as usual, you cannot trust the Boston Globe as far as you can throw it.)
In the document's favor, Catholics must consider it significant that the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews is linked not with the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue but with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity: the Cardinal President of the PCPCU presides over this Commission; the Secretary of the PCPCU is similarly its Vice-President. (Here is one of the Commission's most significant documents: We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah by the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews.) As we do with Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, and other Christians, we Catholics have been calling Jews our "brothers and sisters" in official Church documents ever since the publication of Nostra Aetate (and maybe even before that).
Some people have objected to the language of the "Reflections on Covenant & Mission" document where it says "[the Catholic] evangelizing task no longer includes the wish to absorb the Jewish faith into Christianity and so end the distinctive witness of Jews to God in human history." But this sounds, to my ears, very orthodox --very much like the mission of the Association of Hebrew Catholics (does not yet have its own site). The AHC is a voluntary association of Catholics which aims at ending the alienation of Catholics of Jewish origin from their heritage as Israelites. Catholics of Jewish origin, the Association believes, should preserve their own Israelite identity and distinctives within the Church. In the words of AHC's founder, Fr. Elias Friedman, "[Catholics] should enable [Jews] to accept Christ and his Church without assimilation," i.e. without conforming to the Gentile community and losing their Israelite identity.
For reading, Catholics may want to check out Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's Many Religions, One Covenant. I don't know if Spiritual Pilgrimage: Texts on Jews & Judaism by Pope John Paul II, 1979-1995 (Anti-Defamation League/USCCB) is still in print, but you might also check out other such publications from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Other ecclesiastical documents on Catholic-Jewish relations, from the Pontifical Commission and also various national Bishops' Conferences, are available at this Jewish-Christian relations site.
:: John 8/19/2002 06:59:00 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, August 16, 2002 ::
Pro-Life Feminist Gear
It's not easy to find pro-life feminist gear (clothes, bags, mugs, etc.), but here are some options:
Some guys feel weird sporting gear that says "feminist" on it (though they needn't). If that describes you, go to Pro-Life Feminist Store 2, which features a really cool "abolish abortion" design. Perfect for the March for Life!
:: John 8/17/2002 12:33:00 AM [+] ::
A Feminist Look at Abortion Statistics
I've just found Pro-Life Guy's blogspot through Mark Shea's, and I'm really glad I did. In one of his posts, Pro-Life Guy provided some statistics from the Alan Guttmacher Institute. I checked out AGI's stats website for myself, and pondered the following:
I included the first of these points just to establish the number of abortions per year.
- In 1997, 1.33 million abortions took place, down from an estimated 1.61 million in 1990. From 1973 through 1997, more than 35 million legal abortions occurred.
- 52% of U.S. women obtaining abortions are younger than 25: Women aged 20-24 obtain 32% of all abortions, and teenagers obtain 20%.
- On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 2/3 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner. [Less than 1% of all abortions --13,000 of 1.33 million-- follow rape or incest, and the overwhelming majority are purely elective.]
The second of these points is to illustrate to you just how crucial Feminists for Life's College Outreach Program is: about 1/3 of all U.S. abortions are performed on college-aged women (probably more, since "college-aged" usually includes 18-24 year-olds). If you are ever looking to donate to a charity that will reach those women most likely to have an abortion, please consider Feminists for Life and the Nurturing Network.
The third point illustrates something I blogged earlier: that most women who seek abortions are capitulating to outside pressures. If we really want to reduce the number of abortions (a goal most pro-choicers claim to share with pro-lifers), then we desperately need to provide these women practical alternatives and support. Supporting Feminists for Life and the Nurturing Network are two good ways to do this.
In fact, read this again:
Now read what the PRO-LIFE FEMINISTS (I know, the term is redundant!) have been saying for YEARS:
- On average, women give at least 3 reasons for choosing abortion: 3/4 say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities; about 2/3 say they cannot afford a child; and 1/2 say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.
"Abortion is the destruction of human life and energy that does nothing to eradicate the very real underlying problems of women. The pregnant welfare mother begs for decent housing, a decent job and child-care or respect for her child-nurturing work. Instead, she gets directions to the local abortion clinic and is told to take care of 'her problem.' How convenient. Much less time and trouble than teaching her about authentic reproductive freedom and reproductive responsibility. Much cheaper than attending to her real problems: her poverty, her lack of skills, her illiteracy, her loneliness, her bitterness about her entrapment, her self-contempt, her vulnerability. After the abortion these problems will all be there and another one added besides: her guilt." --Cecilia Voss Koch
"If women must submit to abortion to preserve their lifestyle or career, their economic social status, they are pandering to a system devised and run by men for male convenience.... Accepting short-term solutions like abortion only delays the implementation of real reforms like decent maternity and paternity leaves, job protection, high-quality child care, community responsibility for dependent people of all ages, and recognition of the economic contribution of child-minders." --Daphne de Jong
"As a pregnancy counselor, I had not dealt with a single woman who thought about aborting her baby because she thought it was best. No, it was her parents who thought it was a good idea, or a boyfriend, or a husband, or a boss, or a frowning, judgmental society which was too much for her to withstand." --Judie Gillespie
"No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg." --Frederica Mathewes-Green
"Because abortion undeniably involves a degree of physical and emotional pain, the abortion decision cannot be viewed apart from the factors that motivate it. Those factors --personal problems, social pressure, lack of support from family, society, or friends-- suggest that the choice is never a truly voluntary one. It is more likely in fact that women submit to abortions, not so much because they have a choice, but because they feel that in their own circumstances, they have no choice at all.... Abortion does nothing whatever to promote social and economic justice, nor does it compensate for the lack of it." --Elizabeth Moore Sobo
"Abortion does not address the basic inequalities, such as poverty and unequal pay, that make a woman believe she cannot have a baby. It's a cheap fix that leaves the woman as poor and oppressed as she ever was, while politicians claim to have struck a blow for women's rights and the doctors go home $250 richer." --Jane Thomas Bailey
I cannot recommend enough that everyone read these great quotes from modern pro-life feminists and Real Choices!
For those of you who are interested, here are some AGI statistics regarding contraceptives & abortion:
These are direct quotes. I am not responsible for the wording of these points.
- 58% of women having abortions in 1995 had used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant.
- 11% of women having abortions have never used a method of birth control.
- 9 in 10 women at risk of unintended pregnancy are using a contraceptive method.
While I'm on the topic of statistics, I thought I'd include a stunning quote from Len Radoff's review of Morris Berman's The Twilight of American Culture:
"Berman relates that 60% of [American] adults have never read a book; only 6% read one book a year, even when the criteria for a book includes Harlequin romances and self-help manuals."
God help us! Make certain that your kids (a) know how to read and (b) see you reading for pleasure often. And make sure you don't give them any Philip Pullman books, while you're at it (see below if you missed the Pullman post).
:: John 8/16/2002 10:57:00 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, August 15, 2002 ::
For those of you who never read the whole of Lord of the Rings, you may be interested to learn that the Fellowship of the Ring departed Rivendell on December 25th, the Feast of the Nativity. What's more, the Ring is destroyed in the Cracks of Doom, and Barad-dûr is conquered, on March 25th. March 25th is the day that commemorates the Fall of Humanity, the Annunciation to Mary & the Incarnation, and the Crucifixion. Chew on that a while!
By the way, there's some really fun Tolkien merchandise at Tolkien Town. Feel free to get me a Long-Stemmed Ranger's Pipe or a poster of Legolas for Christmas.
Hey, Michael Jameson, maybe the dingo ate your baby!
You may or may not have noticed that I didn't really post anything on August 15th, the Feast of the Dormition and Assumption of Mary, the Mother of God. That's because I was out celebrating. It was my anniversary, the first day of my 8th year as a Catholic. (Meaning I've been Catholic seven whole years.)
Confessionals With a View
I'm definitely with the guy who thinks this is "weird."
:: John 8/16/2002 02:03:00 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, August 14, 2002 ::
It's not been updated in a while, but Carolyn Gargaro's page is still relevant.
:: John 8/15/2002 12:44:00 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, August 13, 2002 ::
Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-c.1652) was one of the greatest chiaroscuro artists of the Renaissance. Internationally famous in her own day, then obscure for centuries, Artemisia's art is making a comeback.
Artemisia suffered many hardships, both artistically and personally. A 17th century double-standard forbade her to work with nude male models. As a woman, she was forbidden full membership in the increasingly important art academies. Worse, in a male-dominated field, Artemisia was subjected to constant sexual harassment, intimidation, and slander. In such a social climate, her rape in 1612 was, unfortunately, almost inevitable.
But Artemisia would not be stifled by her limitations and suffering. She turned them into beautiful and powerful images of strong biblical and mythological heroines. Among them:
I love her works. This is why I am thoroughly offended by the 1998 French Film "Artemisia", which reinterprets the rape of Artemisia Gentileschi by Agostino Tassi as a forbidden love affair between a curious virgin and a Renaissance playboy. It's absolutely disgusting.
Though I'm no great fan of Gloria Steinem, I support her opposition to the film and invite everyone to read this critique, which was prepared with the much-respected Gentileschi biographer, Mary Garrard.
Sexual Abuse Scandals
It is, of course, a deeply offensive horror when a person who has committed himself to serving Christ's Church takes advantage of those people he has promised to love and serve. There is no excuse for such betrayal, and whether the act is criminal or not, it is a sin. (God grant them the grace to truly repent and change!)
I speak as a person who has personally endured this betrayal of friendship, having been sexually molested by a priest I trusted. But I also speak as a faithful Catholic who refuses to leave Christ, and who refuses to leave Peter, because of Judas' actions. Now is the time for Christians to live anew the Gospel of Hope: to pray, to fast, to do works of mercy and truth for the benefit of all.
I do not resent the reporting of these offenses. I hope that it will help people to come to their senses, change their lives, and do what is right. (In many cases, it has done precisely that.) But I do resent the snide anti-Catholic tone adopted in some of the reports. Will the Planned Parenthood groups that agreed not to report the criminal sexual abuse of young girls to the police receive the same mocking resentment? I doubt it.
Saint Juan Diego
Casa Juan Diego has reprinted Dorothy Day's reflections on Juan Diego and our Lady of Guadalupe in The Houston Catholic Worker. It's a great read.
:: John 8/14/2002 10:16:00 PM [+] ::
Protestants Discover the Genius of Natural Family Planning
Well, the best kept Catholic secret is out, and none too soon. I'm speaking, of course, of Natural Family Planning (NFP), which has so many advantages over contraception that I'm totally baffled about why people would want to waste all their money on that contraceptive schmoog.
But the point is, if you haven't heard about Sam & Bethany Torode's Protestant campaign in favor of NFP over contraception, you must. Here's some links to get you started:
I've read Open Embrace and would recommend it to all my friends, Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, and others. Read it and recommend it to your friends. If nothing else, its basic introduction to Pope John Paul II's theology of the body would be enough to commend it.
Abortion: Liberation or Capitulation?
For years the abortion advocates have been telling us that the "pro-choice" position is "liberating" to women. In reality, however, most women experience abortion as a capitulation to outside pressures rather than a personal liberation. A recent article in the Washington Times illustrates this unfortunate truth. According to the article three female EMTs procured abortions because they were told that pregnancy may result in job termination. It's the story of Frederica Mathewes-Green's book Real Choices all over again. (If you've never read Real Choices, by all means acquire it immediately!) Alice Paul, author of the original Equal Rights Amendment, knew what she was talking about when she said "Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women"!
:: John 8/13/2002 09:13:00 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, August 12, 2002 ::
Blessed Among Women!
Who, in the Bible, is "blessed among women"? Most Catholics could easily show you the passage in Luke's Gospel where Elizabeth calls Mary "blessed among women." It is, after all, a portion of one of the most popular Catholic prayers, the "Hail Mary."
But even before Mary's time, at least two biblical women were said to be "blessed among women." Jaël, who drove a tent peg through the head of Sisera (read Judges 4-5), and Judith, who decapitated Holofernes (read Judith). Read the following passages together, perhaps for the first time:
"[The prophet Deborah sang] 'Blessed among women be Jaël.... With her left hand she reached for the peg, with her right, for the workman's mallet. She hammered Sisera, crushed his head; she smashed, stove in his temple.... At her feet he sank down, fell, lay still; down at her feet he sank and fell; where he sank down, there he fell, slain.'"
"Judith urged them with a loud voice: 'Praise God, praise him! Praise God, who has not withdrawn his mercy from the house of Israel, but has shattered our enemies by my hand this very night.' Then she took the head out of the pouch, showed it to them, and said: 'Here is the head of Holofernes, general in charge of the Assyrian army, and here is the canopy under which he lay in his drunkenness. The Lord struck him down by the hand of a woman'.... Then Uzziah said to her: 'Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God, the creator of heaven and earth, who guided your blow at the head of the chief of our enemies. Your deed of hope will never be forgotten by those who tell of the might of God.'"
"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.... Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.' And Mary said: 'My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.'"
Too few people, imo, comment on this interesting connection between Jaël, Judith, and Mary. For example, what might the stories of Jaël and Judith tell us about Mary? Both Jaël and Judith acted, by the power of YHWH their God, as saviors for Israel, destroyers of the enemy. I would argue that when Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, calls Mary "blessed among women," she is using terminology that compares Mary (in the minds of the biblically literate) to a warrior heroine. That's no frilly compliment! In this light, the strong language of Mary's Magnificat ("He has shown the might of his arm, dispersed the arrogant.... thrown down rulers from their thrones.... the rich he has sent away empty") make even more sense.
Marian Shrine Shot Glasses
Yes, there are such things. Shot glasses printed with images of marian shrines, like Lourdes, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in D.C., Notre Dame de Paris, etc. And I collect them. So keep an eye out, and if you see any, please let me know. I'd love to have a Fatima one!
:: John 8/13/2002 06:52:00 PM [+] ::
Read The Feminist Case Against Abortion online!
Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life of America, has been presenting "The Feminist Case Against Abortion" on college campuses all over the country as part of FFLA's College Outreach Program. In Foster's words, "[the] College Outreach Program challenges students to question abortion and asks college and university administrators to provide resources for pregnant and parenting students." Many American college students, both pro-lifers and pro-choicers, have gotten together to host the Pregnancy Resources Forums that FFLA recommends to improve campus life.
Now you can read Serrin Foster's introductory address, The Feminist Case Against Abortion, online. This version was originally published in The Commonwealth.
:: John 8/12/2002 04:19:00 PM [+] ::
Philip Pullman's Anti-Christian Sermons
As Mark Shea put it, Christians are entirely too upset about Harry Potter and not concerned enough about Philip Pullman's atheist-moralistic schlock. To learn more about Pullman's books, check out Christian reviews of them here, here, and here. There's also a bit about Pullman here. For a non-Christian perspective, with quotes from Pullman, look here.
When I say "atheist-moralist schlock," I don't mean that the books aren't very imaginative and fun. In many ways, they are. But they're also horribly preachy, didactic, and moralistic in places. It's ironic that that's one of Pullman's own complaints about Lewis' Narnia books. If anything, Pullman's are far more preachy.
:: John 8/12/2002 03:35:00 PM [+] ::