Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Stands to reason ...

Well, yeah! No one likes to wear helmets. They're uncomfortable and bulky, it's awkward putting them on when you're in the mood to skate, sometimes you don't have one handy when you need it, and it lessens the feeling of the breeze in your hair. So, can you blame a fellow if he doesn't always wear one of those things?

But condoms — well, who doesn't like the feeling of those? Hardly seems worthwhile to do "that" if you're not wearing a nice snug condom to enhance that feeling intimacy.

Monday, December 5, 2011

All right, we are two nations ...

When I saw this postcard at PostSecret I was really sad for the poor girl:

But when I read the two comments below, I was just about heart-broken:

Hi Frank - My husband and I are not able to have children. Or at least I'm not. I had my 2nd ectopic pregnancy the day before Thanksgiving and they took my last fallopian tube. I would love to get my contact info to the poster of the abortion secret in case she changes her mind and considers adoption. We would make amazing parents!...[email removed]...

Hi Frank - Can you please take down my email? I'm getting hate mail. I guess it wasn't the right thing to do. Thank you!

Can you even begin to imagine what sort of person would send hate mail to someone so desperate and earnest?

Monday, November 7, 2011

all right we are two nations

In reaction to the Occupy Wall Street movement, a group in Minnesota put up this bill-board:

In the past thirty years our tax code has been completely re-written to benefit the rich, our jobs have been sent over-seas, productivity per worker has doubled yet wages have been hammered down by at least 30%, economic inequality has grown to Gilded Age proportions, basic healthcare has become unaffordable for the working classes, millions have lost their homes due to predatory lending practices, bail-outs that were supposed to prop-up "key sectors of the economy" have been paid out as bonuses —
but somehow the people objecting to this are the "covetous" ones?

Monday, August 29, 2011


Herman Göring is famous for saying, "Whenever I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my revolver," except, of course, that he didn’t say it. (It actually is a line from the play Schlageter, written by Hanns Johst.) But the concept is pretty clear, don’t you think?

There are some words that make us “reach for our revolvers,” and the Liberal/Conservative divide is fairly riven with these words. Of course, there is the controversy over so-called “inclusive language” but there are many more subtle shibboleths such as:

• Liberal parishes refer to themselves as “welcoming parishes” while conservative will admit to being “traditionalist” but prefer to call themselves “authentic Catholics.”

• Welcoming Churches list the times for “liturgy,” while Traditionalist Parishes list the “mass times.”

• While Traditionalists often criticize the behavior of “the bishops,” centering the fault on these individuals personally and by name, Liberals routinely blame “the hierarchy” and thus blame the very existence of an authoritarian structure for the problems.

• “Reconciliation” is usually offered for about half-an-hour on Saturday afternoons in Liberal parishes, while “confessions are heard before each mass” at Traditionalist parishes.

• Liberals often drop the article in front of nouns, speaking of “church,” “community,” or “spirit,” as in “church is community lead by spirit.” Traditionalists would say “The Church is a community lead by the Holy Spirit.” I’m not sure why Liberals drop the other articles, but in the case of “church” it’s because they don’t want to commit to saying that the Catholic Church is “a church” or “the Church.” They also don’t capitalize “Church” nor pronouns referring to the Deity, as in “Christ and His Church.”

• Bonnie Wheeler, in a history of women in the Middle Ages (definitely a liberal undertaking), referred to the popularity of “making journeys to sacred spaces” instead of saying (more accurately) “making pilgrimages to shrines.” I have no idea of what her agenda was, but such bizarre circumlocutions must have some purpose.

• Liberals say “eucharistic minister” instead of “extra-ordinary ministers of the Eucharist” because they don’t want to acknowledge that you’re only supposed to have them in the extra-ordinary circumstance of having an huge congregation and only one priest to give out communion.

• Traditionalist say “Tridentine mass” and “Novus Ordo mass” while liberals say “extra-ordinary form of the mass” to stress that the Tridentine form is not usual and not to be encouraged.

• Liberals say “contemporary music” to make it sound fresh and new, Traditionalist say “folk mass” to make it sound idiotic.

• I once read a piece in the Tribune about a mother whose child was celiac and could not eat wheat without serious medical consequences. She wanted rice-wafers to be consecrated for her daughter (neither valid nor licit), but the priest offered instead to give her communion under the species of wine. (The very same solution Father Phillips offered my celiac daughter.) The woman objected to this, because she “didn’t think children should be drinking alcohol.” Only a Liberal would think of the Blood of Christ as booze.

• Liberals never use the word “sermon,” always “homily.” I don’t know if there is a difference, but I do know that I like it when I am preached to, told that I am wrong/weak/licentious, and told to cut it out. I don’t need anyone to explain the Gospel to me, I need someone to harangue me into living the Gospel.

• Liberals say “abstinence,” Traditionalists say “chastity.”

• What Liberals denounce as the “rhythm method” is referred to by Traditionalists as “periodic abstinence.” Note that this is the correct use of abstinence (i.e. abstaining from something), as a married couple would still be “chaste” (i.e. abstaining from illicit sexuality) even if they were to engage in relations at such a time.

• Though it is a perfectly good term, Traditionalist never say “acolyte,” always “altar boy,” because they ought to be boys. Liberals usually use the “inclusive” term “altar server.”

• Some fool of a retired friar, looking to raise funds for a perfectly worthy missionary effort, gave an homily at Saint John’s that began with the phrase, “You have a beautiful worship space here!” After mass, I took him aside and told him that the phrase “worship space” hit the wrong note with the crowd at Saint John’s. “Really? What should I have said?” he asked. “Church,” I said, “We have a beautiful church here.” I hope he got the message, and was not lynched by the arch-traditional 12:30 crowd.

An Insight Bound to be Unpopular

“The Tridentine Mass has great mystical power and the proof of this is that no Satanist has ever bothered to make fun of the Novus Ordo Mass. Every Black Mass ever said has been based on the Tridentine Model. Our enemy knows where our strength lies better than we do.”

— Scott Apton

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

There is NOTHING He Can Say

Monday morning I got word that my fiend Tom Roeser had died the day before. In the early 1970's, when I was eleven or twelve, I read a series of articles in the Sun Times by Mr. Roeser about the Catholic Church, Vatican II, and how most people held misconceptions about both. They were informative, well written, and they had an influence on me. Years later, when I had the good fortune to meet Tom Roeser, I was able to tell him that these articles were one of about a dozen factors in my decision to become a Catholic. He was visibly touched and said that bringing someone to the Faith was the best work a man could do and that he was gratified to know that he had in some small way helped me to find God. That was fifteen years ago, and we have been friends ever since.

Of course, I'll be going to his funeral. I've already written a letter of condolence to his wife. In a few weeks, I will probably have an opportunity to talk to her after mass and I can think of a dozen things to say that will probably make her feel better. I imagine it is a comfort to her to know that many, many people's lives were touched by Tom and will miss him. He was eighty-two years old, he had enjoyed a good measure of success in his life, he died a loyal Catholic with every expectation of God's mercy, and so his death is not a tragedy, but rather the inevitable final act of a long life well spent.

Somebody else died early Sunday morning.

Sunday we had gotten a call. A boy had fallen off a building. Police weren't giving out any details, but someone we knew in the building called to tell us that one of the two people in the building unaccounted for was my son's friend "D." It wasn't until the next day that we got word that, in deed, D. had fallen to his death in what was probably a senseless accident. My son was told that all of D's friends were going over to be with D's parents at in their dreadful hour of loss. My son spent the better part of the day there, only coming home late in the evening.

When he got home, my son was plainly worn out, depressed, dragging. Wife-mate gave him some soup and no one spoke. After a few minutes, I mentioned that our friend Mr. Roeser had passed away on Sunday. My son nodded and said, "I'll have to write Mrs. Roeser a letter."

"I've already written one; you can just add your signature to mine."

"I'd like to write her a letter, I know what to say to her."

And we all understood what he meant by that. He meant that he had just spent a whole day with people that will never be consoled, who will never find comfort in his words, whose loss is unspeakable. After that, writing a letter to Mrs. Roeser would not only be easy, it would be a comfort to him.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Exactly What To Expect

This post card was sent in to PostSecret, a blog that publishes anonymous cards sent in from all over the world:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thoughts on "Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Month"

I picked up a book recently that was simply fascinating in its disingenuousness, “Why We’re Liberals: a Political Handbook for Post-Bush America,” by Eric Alterman. The book’s format is catechial, with his asking a question and then appearing to answer it. The problem is, he never really answers the question.

For instance, Chapter Nineteen is called “Why do Liberals Love “Activist Judges”?” where Alterman simply dodges the questions of why or whether liberals like judges who legislate from the bench, and why or whether this is a good thing, by pointing out instead that conservative judges have in many cases also usurped legislative functions.

Or Chapter Sixteen, “Why Do Liberals Hate Religion” is mostly taken up with a discussion of how there are plenty of religious liberals, like Jim Wallis, and that their only real objection is to “Biblical literalism” that threatens the separation of church and state. Alterman never acknowledges, or even mentions, that the primary role of religion is in dealing with personal sin, whereas the predominant trend in liberalism thought for at least the last forty years is that personal failings are usually a result of social and environmental factors, which largely negates the idea of personal sin.

Which leads us back to Chapter Twelve, “Why Won’t Liberals Admit That America is Suffering from a Crisis in Moral Values” where Alterman devastates the opposition by pointing up that the Teenage Pregnancy Rate has been falling for the last twenty years!
So, let’s look at the "problem" of teen pregnancy.

Like all pregnancy rates, teen pregnancy was at an historical low in 1940, primarily because after ten years of economic depression people just weren’t having a lot of babies. And then the rate shoots up with post-war prosperity to an all time high around 1960, but this isn’t a problem because throughout the 1950’s the average bride was only 20.3 years old. That’s right: about half of all brides were teenagers, so naturally the teen pregnancy rate would be high. Since 1960, the average bride has aged some five years (she is now 25.6) and teenage marriages have become a rarity.

What hasn’t gone down is the rate of Illegitimate Births! The Out -Of-wedlock Birth Rate rose steadily from 1940 to 1990 and has remained fairly stable in the low forties per thousand since then. About twenty times what it was in 1940.

Even more distressing, Birth Out-Of-wedlock as a percentage of Total Births has grown from a negligible one in fifty in 1940, to one in three today. Putting all moral or religious concerns aside, this is still an important issue from a purely practical standpoint. I didn’t have to look very far to find dozens of documented ill effects of bastardy, a sampling of which I offer below:

  • Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and criminality.
  • A majority victims of child sexual abuse came from disrupted or single-parent homes. Whereas only 31% of sexually abused children live with both biological parents, 42% lived in single parent homes, and 27% of the abused children lived with either a stepfather or the mother's boyfriend.
  • According to police reports, 49% of all child abuse cases are committed by single mothers.
  • Children of never-married mothers are more than twice as likely to have been treated for an emotional or behavioral problem and six times as likely to exhibit violent behavior at school.
  • Children in single-parent families tend to score lower on standardized tests and to receive lower grades in school and are nearly twice as likely to drop out of school as children from two-parent families.
  • Children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as one-parent homes.
  • The proportion of single-parent households in a community predicts its rate of violent crime and burglary, but the community's poverty level does not. The relationship between family structure and crime is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime. This conclusion shows up time and again in the literature.
  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes.
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes

The fact that nowadays the overwhelming majority of teen mothers are unmarried masks the real problem but, when you separate these variables, statistical analysis shows that the real problem is bastardy. The emphasis on “Teenage Pregnancy” is simply a red-herring, a way of pretending to deal with a social problem while avoiding the real issue. It is a way of being “nice” and “non-judgmental,” of not appearing to “stigmatize” people, when a revival of the social stigma against bastardy is exactly what is needed.

What we need is a Bastard Prevention Month!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Those Socialistic Popes!

“No one is in a state of salvation who knowingly lives on the profit of usury.”
— Pope Innocent III

“Would justice permit anyone to own and enjoy that upon which another has toiled? As effects follow the cause producing them, so it is just that the fruit of labor belongs precisely to those who have performed the labor.”
— Pope Leo XIII
“Rerum Novarum [On the Condition of the Working Classes]”

“It is shameful and inhuman, however, to use men as things for gain and to put no more value on them than what they are worth in muscle and energy.”
— Pope Leo XIII
“Rerum Novarum"
“It is incontestable that the wealth of nations originates from no other source than from the labor of workers.”
— Pope Leo XIII
“Rerum Novarum"

“Free competition, though within its limits is productive of good results, cannot be the ruling principle of the economic world. It is necessary that economic affairs be brought once more into subjection to a true and effective guiding principle.”
— Pope Pius XI
“Quadragesimo Anno”

“[It is the] function of government to adjust ownership to meet the needs of the public good.”
— Pope Pius XI
“Quadragesimo Anno”

“The system is vicious, both ethically and ontologically … capitalism degrades men to mere economic facts of cost, to be bargained for at lowest possible market prices.”
— Pope Pius XI
“Quadragesimo Anno”

Monday, January 24, 2011

Juno and the McGilla

The classic “McGilla” goes something like this:

A very agitated fellow walks into a bar and asks: “Is Joe McGilla here?”

“I don’t know,” the bar-tender replies, then he turns around and calls out: “Is Joe McGilla in the house?” He calls this out once or twice and, when no one answers, he says to the fellow asking, “I guess not.”

"Well,” the fellow says excitedly, “If you see Joe McGilla, tell him he’s just become an uncle!”

“Oh, congratulations!” the bar-tender offers his hand, “Let me set you up with a drink on the house!”

Now, the trick here is that there is no Joe McGilla;.

This story is about a fellow who wants a free drink and the whole thing about McGilla becoming an uncle is just the trick he uses to get the drink. Most movies have a McGilla, that is, a plot element that sets up the whole story. Just as in the bar, if the bar-keep didn’t believe that there was a real Joe McGilla, then the fellow wouldn’t get the drink, so too in a movie, if the audience doesn’t believe the McGilla then there really is no movie.

Either you buy it that Carry Grant is mistaken for a spy in “North by Northwest,” or the rest of the movie doesn’t matter. Either you believe Jimmy Stewart has a guardian angel willing to intervene in his life, or it’s not “A Wonderful Life.” Either Bill Murray has to re-live the same day again and again, or the next day isn’t “Groundhog Day.” Theorists call this “willing suspension of disbelief,” I just call it “buying the McGilla.”

So here’s this movie “Juno,” about the trials and tribulations of a pregnant teenager. The movie is not about her getting pregnant, it’s about her being pregnant, and so if she doesn’t stay pregnant then there is no movie. So we need a McGilla: we need a reason for why an intelligent, sarcastic teenage girl, from a typical middle American family, who’s pretty cavalier about getting herself pregnant, would not just do the usual thing and get rid of it. The problem is compounded by the fact that having a baby is a whole lot more trouble than setting someone up with a free drink, so the McGilla has got to be pretty good.

And it is.

When Juno, the girl in trouble, ducks on down to a clinic to have herself a quick scrape, she runs into Su-Chin, a dorky Asian girl holding a sign that reads “No Babies Like Murdering” and crying out in broken English “All babies want to be borned!” (Not since Benson Fong played Charlie Chan’s #3 son has an Asian stereotype been simultaneously so degrading and sympathetic.) Juno walks up and has a conversation with Su-Chin about school, neither of them mentioning why they are there, until Juno walks on to the clinic with Su-Chin calling after her “Your baby has fingernails!” Juno walks on, has a seedy encounter with the receptionist in the clinic, and then finds herself unable to fill out the forms required. In the next scene she is on the phone to her best friend saying that she’s decided to keep the baby, citing the fact that the baby already has fingernails among her reasons.

Now, that’s a pretty good McGilla and I buy it. I actually know sidewalk counselors and they regularly report conversion experiences of that type. Perhaps they are not common, but they do happen and usually for the same reason: the counselor says something that makes the pregnant woman come to see her child as a real person.

So this is actually a very good Pro-Life message — right?

Well, not according to the film makers. On the commentary track (and evidently in interviews as well) both writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman say that this movie is actually Pro-Choice, essentially because Juno makes her own choice.

Do you buy that? I don’t.

Let’s try a thought experiment. Can we imagine someone who’s on the fence about abortion going to that movie, hearing the thing about the fingernails, and then coming down on the Pro-Life side? I think that is plausible. They might also see how happy the baby’s adoptive parent is at the end of the movie, or how the process causes Juno to become more mature, or how crass the clinic employee was; any of these factors might constitute a persuasive Pro-Life message.

Now, can you find anything, any reason at all why someone on the fence might see Juno and become Pro-Choice as a result? I can’t imagine such a thing.

So here’s a lovely irony. Two decidedly Pro-Choice film-makers have made a demonstrably Pro-Life film just to have a plausible McGilla!

I love it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Soviets Against Abortion!

Super cool Soviet poster from 1925, warning against midwives performing abortions.

Abortions performed by either trained or self-taught midwives not only maim the woman, they also often lead to death.