Friday, November 16, 2012


In an abrupt departure from topics normally covered here, I would like to post a short advisory about the company iMovies Ltd and their related company ShowSplash. Have nothing to do with them.

They are supposedly based in London. Based on my experience with iMovies and ShowSplash over the past year, they seem to be a fly-by-night operation, wholly without integrity and a comprehensive rip-off.

I've spent the past year trying to sort out how and why we were charged approximately $50 a month over a 10-month period for supposedly signing up with ShowSplash. No one in our family recognizes this site though our name certainly appears on the account. We must have connected through a site of another name and have failed to check or uncheck the appropriate hard-to-find box which offered us membership in this deplorable operation.

When I called ShowSplash to dispute the charges on our bill, I reached a call center in the Caribbean.
That seems to be all there is to this 'company'--a call center with young women who have a supervisor who is never available. More astounding yet was when I was told that their manager doesn't make or receive phone calls! Nor does he have a telephone number! Really!

After numerous phone conversations to the Caribbean I sent a letter to the London office. No reply. Then I sent several e-mails to contacts listed on both the ShowSplash and iMovies Ltd websites. I got a reply saying they would be happy to help and gave me a phone number. Guess where that number led--yes, the call center in the Caribbean.

I sent another e-mail and received a reply saying that I should feel free to contact them again. Yes!

By some miracle, if not the intervention of a higher power, I received a call today from the manager in Barbados. Yes, he finally returned my call of April 24, 2012, just a mere seven months late. Also today, I received a voice mail from ShowSplash which said that they wanted to resolve the problem, but they couldn't get in touch with me. The woman who called left no return phone number and the call came through as 'unknown number.' Yes, really.

Supposedly, the manager is sending the refund I requested next week.

iMovies Ltd.

In an abrupt departure from topics normally covered here, I would like to post a short advisory about the company iMovies Ltd and their related company ShowSplash. Have nothing to do with them.

They are supposedly based in London.  Based on my experience with iMovies and ShowSplash over the past year, they seem to be a fly-by-night operation, wholly without integrity and a comprehensive rip-off. 

 I've spent the past year trying to sort out how and why we were charged approximately $50 a month over a 10-month period for supposedly signing up with ShowSplash.  No one in our family recognizes this site though our name certainly appears on the account.  We must have connected through a site of another name and have failed to check or uncheck the appropriate hard-to-find box which offered us membership in this deplorable operation. 

When I called ShowSplash to dispute the charges on our bill, I reached a call center in the Caribbean.
That seems to be all there is to this 'company'--a call center with young women who have a supervisor who is never available.  More astounding yet was when I was told that their manager doesn't make or receive phone calls!  Nor does he have a telephone number!  Really!

After numerous phone conversations to the Caribbean I sent a letter to the London office.  No reply.  Then I sent several e-mails to contacts listed on both the ShowSplash and iMovies Ltd websites.  I got a reply saying they would be happy to help and gave me a phone number.  Guess where that number led--yes, the call center in the Caribbean. 

I sent another e-mail and received a reply saying that I should feel free to contact them again.  Yes!

By some miracle, if not the intervention of a higher power, I received a call today from the manager in Barbados.  Yes, he finally returned my call of April 24, 2012, just a mere seven months late.  Also today, I received a voice mail from ShowSplash which said that they wanted to resolve the problem, but they couldn't get in touch with me.  The woman who called left no return phone number and the call came through as 'unknown number.'  Yes, really.

Supposedly, the manager is sending the refund I requested next week. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Why Government Is Interested In Marriage

This is a good explanation of why government sanctions traditional marriage and why government would have little interest in sanctioning other kinds of unions, such as same sex marriage. 

This article comes at the same sex marriage controversy from the same perspective as the video below.  Rather than begin with why same-sex marriage is wrong or an impossibility, the argument more logically begins with why opposite sex unions and traditional marriage are necessary and beneficial to societies in ways that same-sex unions can't be either necessary or beneficial.    A few quotes: 
Governments assign legal responsibilities and benefits to marriage, rather than to other relationships, to help mitigate the potentially destructive and tragic consequences of irresponsible procreation. 
Since civil marriage wouldn’t originally arise in response to desires or demands of individuals in diverse relationships, the first move must have been made by governments. Why, then, would governments want to create something like civil marriage?
While many relationships don’t cause any consequences that we might see as potentially problematic for society if left unregulated, one sort of relationship clearly does: sexually intimate opposite-sex relationships.

Left unregulated by the government, most consequences of relationships—such as warm, fuzzy feelings, mutual goodwill, and trust—will not become socially destructive; procreation, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.

Same Sex Marriage - Another Look

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Al Smith Dinner in New York City

So Barack Obama did attend the Al Smith dinner last night as did candidate Mitt Romney.  While it's customary for both candidates to attend the dinner---Cardinal Dolan explains how the event works in this blog post--some of us were put off by Obama's attendance given that his position on most everything is diametrically opposed to Catholic teaching.    Despite Michael Voris's last ditch effort to persuade Cardinal Dolan to make a statement by dis-inviting the president, the dinner proceeded apace.  More liberal media outlets considered the evening a slam-dunk for the Catholic Church while this article lists some of the objections that many have had to Cardinal Dolan's position on having the president attend.  And, here's another negative take on the guest list.

Here is Cardinal Dolan in his own words at the dinner.  The only "un" mentioned by Cardinal Dolan that could have even remotely ruffled Obama's feathers was the mention of the unborn.  Otherwise, Obama must have sat there nodding to himself that he really is every Catholic's best friend because he too cares about the "uns".   I thought Cardinal Dolan might have had something up his sleeve for last night's dinner, perhaps a public rosary like those being said around town,  with the president leading one of the decades or at least some pithier remarks from the cardinal. But, it seems that this was a night just to have fun, to get along and all be friends.  I understand about civility as the cardinal expresses it in his blog (above link), but these are fightin' times and it's disappointing to hear the call to arms from the bishops only to have our head bishop then fraternize merrily at a political event with our opposition.

Now, on a lighter note, it should be duly noted that Ann Romney's gown (with godets) was very pretty and she looked lovely, the picture of good taste.  And it is curious that, as this blogger notes,  "Mooch" wasn't at the dinner.   Wonder why. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Stealth Population Control?

From this article,   "the  American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists updated its guidelines for teenagers to say that IUDs and hormonal implants should be “first-line contraceptive options” that are discussed at each doctor’s visit."   I'm reminded of what a doctor told me 20 years ago.  He commented that 'government programs' and 'clinics'  favor the IUD as a method of birth control because its success doesn't require much skill or vigilance on the part of the user.  The user whom a government program is targeting is probably not the educated, white, middle or upper middle class female who will get whatever birth control she may or may not wish to have.  The user is probably a less educated, younger female from a lower socio-economic class, possibly with a good chance of being black or hispanic.  

 Why does a government program want a quick and easy solution to pregnancy?  To control the number of births resulting, perhaps?  Population control.   Throwing easy solutions at what are perceived to be problem pregnancies presumes that  the population in question is both sexually active and too irresponsible--too, uh, dumb?-- to control its sexual activity.  That in and of itself is the  soft bigotry of low expectations.  Secondly, there must be a presumption that the children resulting from these sexual unions are not wanted, either by their parents or by the society.  More bigotry and not so soft.  By advocating for 'easy' forms of contraception, society promotes a libertine attitude toward sex at the expense of the health and well-being of women in particular and our society in general.  The article points out the health problems associated with IUDs and the increased availability they will have under Obama's health care.  More wonderful things for liberated girls and women, brought to us by liberated women, with the support of  liberated men. 

Not to be outdone, New York City public schools are also into the population control business with the insidious CATCH program.   Cardinal Dolan notes the tragic irony and comments here that parental consent is needed in New York state for piercings, tattos and tanning salons, but the CATCH program makes hormonal injections and contraceptive drugs available to teen-agers without parental consent.

Women Speak For Themselves

Monday, October 1, 2012

More on Marriage as Cure For. . . .

. . . . . any number of ills, but this study from the Heritage Foundation focuses on marriage as the best cure for child poverty. 

Approximately 41% of children are born out of wedlock.  That's a precipitous increase from the 70s when only 10% of children were born to unmarried women.  

A few quotes from the article:
Since the early 1960s, single-parent families have roughly tripled as a share of all families with children. As noted, in the U.S. in 2009, single parents were nearly six times more likely to be poor than were married couples.

Overall, single-parent families comprise one-third of all families with children, but as Chart 6 shows, 71 percent of poor families with children are headed by single parents. By contrast, 73 percent of all non-poor families with children are headed by married couples.

These [out of wedlock birth] rates remained relatively low until the onset of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty in the early 1960s. Then the black out-of-wedlock birth rate skyrocketed, doubling in little more than a decade from 24.5 percent in 1964 to 50.3 percent in 1976. It continued to rise rapidly, reaching 70.7 percent in 1994. Over the next decade, it declined slightly but then began to rise again, reaching 72.3 percent in 2008.

The report elucidates on the matter of out-of-wedlock births.  The majority do not occur among teens, but rather among young adults over the age of 18, people who generally have a favorable attitude toward marriage and children and who desire children.  The study refers to the interesting book on this subject,   Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Mothers Put Motherhood Before Marriage by Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas.  As the study explains it,
A major obstacle is that most low-income women plan to marry after having children, not before. Their life plan is the exact opposite of the normal sequence in the upper middle class. In the upper middle class, men and women still follow the traditional pattern: A man and woman become attracted to each other; a relationship develops; the couple assess each other and at some point deliberately choose to become lifetime partners; emotional bonds deepen; they marry and after a few years have children.

In the lowest-income third of the U.S. population, this traditional sequence of family formation and childbearing is now explicitly reversed. Women first have children and then seek to find or build a stable relationship that will eventually lead to marriage. Typically, low-income single mothers do not see marriage either as an important part of childrearing or as an important element of financial security or upward social mobility. Instead, marriage is seen as a symbolic event that should occur later in adult life. Marriage is regarded as an important ceremony that will celebrate one’s eventual arrival in the middle class rather than as a vital pathway that leads upward to the attainment of middle-class status

My opinion is based on anecdotal evidence only, but I don't think this mentality is limited to the lower-class.  It's becoming increasingly adopted by young middle-class women up to about age 30.   Lower-income women describe having children as fulfilling, giving purpose to their lives and they may do so in lieu of not having many other opportunities.  But middle-class gals who do have opportunities seem to be latching onto having children as simply something else to do, some other experience to have.  I believe these Generation Y-ers are so steeped in the culture of the feminized society (post 60s sexual revolution) that they have no awareness of the value of a father in their child's life or a husband in their own life.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

Patterson and Tocqueville on Higher Ed

If I've got the gist of it, this article is essentially explaining why MOOCs are not going to revolutionize higher education.   The university is and will continue to be essentially an artistocratic institution that was kind of saved from extinction by the development of professional schools (over the last 100 years) that balanced the American desire for practicality with the impractical liberal arts education offered by universities.  Patterson says that the on-line courses will just add another component to what a university can be much as distance learning did:
Professional schools succeeded with distance learning because of high student motivation.  Law enforcement and continuing education succeeded, when it succeeded, because of the high accessibility and low intensity of the coursework. In either case, the courses added another purpose to the university in America rather than replace the university altogether. Online education will do the same. Universities will offer online courses, MOOCs and more conventional varieties. They will serve the existing purpose of marketing the university "brand" as tech-savvy, relevant, and engaged in student learning.

  This is by no means a summary of the article, so have a look for yourself!


Retrouvaille Your Marriage

Here's an interesting article on the perils of divorce among older couples.  While the overall divorce rate has remained stable since 1980 (apparently at about 40-50 % for first marriages but higher for second and third marriages), the divorce rate among couples over 50 has doubled.  Some reasons?
Health problems, medications, and menopause can sour moods and wither the libido. Once reliable social circles may disband as children graduate and spouses approach retirement. Crises may arise with elderly parents or with grown children.
Author Mary Jo Pedersen has a noteworthy comment about marriage:
 “Marriage isn’t supposed to make you happy, it’s supposed to make you married. Marriage creates an environment in which you can choose happiness and you can create a wonderful home and friendship that will bring you happiness. But the institution itself—like everything, it’s what you do with it.”
This is a readable article that makes some good points and has a funny anecdote at the end about how one couple, on the brink of breaking up, went to Retrouvaille, a Catholic marriage program that offers retreats and counseling.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What Is A Saxifrage?

Here is another novel idea in the quest to revamp higher education.  I don't know that the curriculum would be my first choice, but I hope the school is successful.

Dress Code Equality For All

I wasn't sure whether to tag this Inside Higher Ed Quick Take 'For Fun,' 'Weasels' or 'Homosexuality.'  Perhaps a new category, 'Going to Hell in a Handbag' as some put it,  would be required here. 

I reproduce the article in its entirety:
The University of Oxford, responding to concerns about equity for transgender students, has dropped the dress code that has been in place for students at some formal academic events, BBC News reported. The current rules, which will end August 4, require male students to wear a dark suit, black shoes and a white bow tie and a plain white shirt and collar under their black gowns. Women must wear a dark skirt or trousers and a white blouse. The rules were criticized as forcing transgender students into traditional gender roles.

Religious Persecution or Just All in a Day's Work for a Health Director?

Wednesday, August 1st was the first day of the HHS Mandate as it applies to some institutions.  The Cardinal Newman Society sees it as the first day of  'religious persecution'  while Inside Higher Ed more sanguinely views the implementation of the Mandate as requiring college 'health centers' to adjust.

After wading through this article, and admittedly not completely grasping all the ins and out of a college health center adapting to the requirements of the Mandate, the general conclusion I reached is that college health centers exist to hand out contraceptives and to provide pap smears along with other euphemistically-termed 'preventive' services.  As one health director says,  “Our mission is to keep students on campus. It’s to ensure that the student is going to be successful in their higher education, and one of the ways that we achieve that mission is by maintaining their health."    I don't get the impression he's talking about preventing the common cold.   As I commented in the comments section of the article, these health centers seem like little more than mills that foster unrestrained sexual activity on college campuses, with the girls (most enter college still in their teens) expected to assume the responsibility for 'prevention.'  Another perk of the liberating feminist movement.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Children From Different Families

A study came out a while ago called Children From Different Families.  I haven't read it in its entirety, only summaries.  It was conducted by Dr. Mark Regnerus at the University of Texas, Austin.
For an idea of how the study was done, here's a short excerpt from the introduction to the study:
The NFSS [New Family Structures Study]drew from a large, nationally representative, random sample of the U.S. population of young adults, ages 18–39, who were raised in diverse family arrangements, screening 15,000 persons and interviewing 2,988 respondents, making it the second-largest probability sample of children of gay and lesbian parents. 
 As the debate on same-sex 'marriage' has unfolded, the advocates of such have chosen to talk about marriage equality.  By using this phrase, those advocates are leaping over a few considerations to the contrary and are claiming, without any discussion or evidence other than anecdotal, that marriage between a homosexual couple is the same as marriage between a heterosexual couple.  Since married people typically have children, what follows of course is that homosexual couples should have children because their union through marriage is no different from that of a heterosexual couple.  Thus, children of  homosexual couples, these advocates of 'equality' must claim, are no different from the children of heterosexual couples. And so on down the garden path. 

This study addresses that assumption and shows that that isn't the case.   Interestingly, the study is not being well-received by advocates of same-sex 'marriage,'  as you can read here.   As this article asks, where is the tolerance for a study that challenges the views of the marriage equality advocates?   Note that no one on the 'marriage equality' side of the issue chose to support this study.
 "To avoid political partisanship, donors who support same-sex marriage rights as well as those that don’t were invited to participate equally. Regrettably no donors who support same-sex marriage rights accepted the invitation; four were approached, all declined."  (NFSS)  
Critics of the NFSS are saying that Regnerus compared children in stable heterosexual families with children from unstable homosexual unions.  In this article, the author says of the Regnerus study:
The study compares how children fare [under] stable parents to how children fare under divorce or infidelity. We call that “comparing apples to oranges.” Of course the oranges don’t have black seeds. They’re oranges. If he had compared how children did in heterosexual stepfamilies or heterosexual single-parent families with the lesbian or gay stepfamilies or single-parent homes, we might learn something.  
Could be accurate, but, frankly, I think if that study were made, the result would still be that children of heterosexual broken families fared better than those from homosexual unions.  Anyway, I wonder how Graff feels about the effects of divorce and infidelity on children?  Usually, advocates for the do-what's-good-for-you style of living claim that divorce doesn't harm children. Divorce, blended families, affairs, menages-a-trois, lesbian couples, male-male couples, it's all just variations on a theme.  No big deal.   Furthermore, the homosexual life-style itself is marked by a fair degree of infidelity that we are apparently supposed to accept--and even condone--as healthy and just one more 'choice.'

The problem begins with being told that we all must accept what is utterly contrary to common sense--that homosexuality is no different from heterosexuality. 

The Pope on Marriage and Family

Trying to catch up here after a long hiatus.  The post below, written about 6 weeks ago, refers to the then recently-concluded meeting of June 1st.  I decided to leave the post as is. 
At the recently-concluded VII World Meeting of Families in Milan, Pope Benedict delivered the homily at the final Mass.  Here are a couple excerpts.  About marriage:
God created us male and female, equal in dignity, but also with respective and complementary characteristics, so that the two might be a gift for each other, might value each other and might bring into being a community of love and life 
“Dear married couples, in living out your marriage you are not giving each other any particular thing or activity, but your whole lives. And your love is fruitful first and foremost for yourselves, because you desire and accomplish one another’s good, you experience the joy of receiving and giving,”  

And about the family:    " . . . family life is the first and irreplaceable school of social virtues, such as respect for persons, gratuitousness, trust, responsibility, solidarity, cooperation.”  

The VIII World Meeting of Families is going to be in, of all places,  the U.S. of A.---Philadelphia!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Bird's Eye View

For a change of pace. 

Sex-Selection Abortions

Senator Blackburn of Tennessee makes some points about gender-based abortions.  A bill to ban such abortions was voted on today in the House and failed to pass.  (Our/my own Rep. Carolyn Maloney voted against the bill. No surprise.).  Those who support abortion on demand as part of  'reproductive choice' and a woman's 'right to choose' are in the sticky position of having to support this very anti-woman, anti-female act.   That includes our president, Barack Obama, though his position seems to be still 'evolving.'  The prevalence of this practice was discussed here, though such abortions only went on in far-away places like India and China.  Now modern feminism has brought the practice to us.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

One God and "he does not reside in Washington, DC"

I just stumbled across this article from April 23rd on the Becket Fund's website.  The presidents of three evangelical colleges explain their opposition to Obama's HHS mandate (which they cleverly call a 'conscience tax') and why they've filed lawsuits in federal court. 

Their explanation of why Obama's so-called accommodation is nothing of the sort is good. 
First of all, the First Amendment is not to be "accommodated," it is to be respected. But a few hours after the president announced his "accommodation," he codified his original discriminatory rule "without change" anyway. So nothing has changed.
They go on to explain:
The administration claims it will pass an additional rule shifting the mandate's financial burdens to our insurers. But even if a new rule were enacted and our insurers agreed not to pass along the costs—a dubious proposition at best—it would only show that the president has missed the moral point. Our colleges will still be forced to provide plans that directly enable coverage of drugs and services to which we object on religious grounds. It would be like forcing us to provide cable television to our students, but alleging that the cable company, "not us," will provide the Playboy Channel for "free." We do not accept this shell-game theology, and the government cannot force us to adopt its conscience instead of ours.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Gallup's Values and Beliefs Poll, Catholics and Same Sex Marriage

Several Catholic friends have pointed out in recent days that our fellow Catholics continue to cave to the popular culture on the issue of same-sex 'marriage.'  They cite these statistics from the Pew Research group: 
Catholic respondents were slightly less likely than other Americans to oppose same-sex marriage. In 2004, 55% of Catholics were opposed, and 28% strongly. By 2012 those figures had dropped to 42% and 17%. 
As a rejoinder, however, there is the result of yesterday's marriage amendment vote in North Carolina as well as this recent Gallup Poll which says that more people are opposed to same-sex 'marriage' this year than last (48% vs. 46% respectively) or, conversely that there is slightly less support this year with 50% of Americans supporting same-sex 'marriage' as opposed to 53% supporting it last year.   And, read here.

I realize this doesn't address the Catholic problem per se, but at this late date why expect Catholics to behave any differently than the general voting public?  Catholics have succumbed to the sexual and social revolution of the 60s just as nicely as everyone else. Secularized and relativized, they voted handily for Obama in 2008, and, anecdotally, I know plenty of Catholics who will vote for him again. 

I read somewhere that Americans are great believers in fairness (just maybe something to do with our founding principles?), and I think that a good percentage of the so-called support for same-sex marriage comes from a desire we Americans have to be fair to our neighbors.  Notice that Gallup asked participants if same-sex couples should have the same "rights" as those in traditional marriages.  Rights?  Not only fairness, but political correctness dictates that we deny no one their "rights!"  And, actually, some of the things same-sex couples want could and should be handled with changes to the tax code.  By phrasing their question in terms of rights, Gallup is being just a little disingenuous with this poll.

If, as Gallup says, this poll is part of its annual Values and Beliefs poll, why didn't they poll people as to what they believe about traditional marriage and what they believe about same-sex 'marriage?' Why didn't they ask people if they are teaching their children that same-sex 'marriage' is the same as traditional marriage?  Why didn't they ask people if they believe sex education in the schools should teach that homosexuality is normal? Why didn't they ask people how they would feel about having a daughter-in-law who is a husband or a wife to their daughter? 

Gallup headlines the article, that half of Americans support 'gay' marriage.  That also means that half don't support it, a little detail that could just as easily have been the headline of the article.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dump Starbucks

Starbucks has taken a public position supporting same-sex "marriage" as 'core' to who they are as a corporation.  You can read about it here and sign the petition should you choose.  It remains a mystery to me why a retail enterprise would take a stand on a controversial moral issue, but they have and perhaps they are right to do so if they feel strongly about it. 

Closer to home, my home that is, Mumbles Restaurant on 2nd Avenue and 17th Street, NYC,  did something similar last June when the same-sex "marriage" bill passed in New York state.  Their street-side chalk board which usually carries the menu or the specials of the day instead carried a message saying "Congratulations to all on marriage equality."  I guess one has to expect that sort of thing in New York City, but I take some small comfort in the fact that, after writing a letter to the owner of the restaurant (he did understand my point),  my family and I haven't been back to Mumbles since,  just as I feel some small satisfaction in 'dumping Starbucks' though I've never really liked their coffee anyway!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

University of the People

I read this article back in February when it appeared, found it intriguing, but it looked like the University of the People was mostly for foreign students without much money who were willing to try a new idea.  However, with the rash of articles now appearing about alternatives to the traditional four year liberal arts education, it seemed a good idea to revisit this article.

Here is today's article from Inside Higher Ed which characterizes the challenge to liberal arts colleges in this way: 
a changing college-going demographic that will result in fewer upper-class students, the traditional pool for a residential liberal arts colleges; increasing skepticism among the public about the value of a liberal arts degree with no direct ties to a profession; the rising costs of educating a student, which will likely result in even higher tuition; and a changing understanding of technology that might require greater inclusion of technology in the curriculum, both as a tool for learning and a subject.

And yesterday's article discusses Coursera, the Ivy League version of the people's university (an oxymoron I suppose).   This article explains that MOOCs stands for 'massively open on-line courses.'

The Brooklyn Institute is another option in the changing landscape.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Our First, Most Cherished Liberty

This is the title of the USCCB's statement of this past week on the matter of threats to religious liberty in the United States.   One highlight from the statement is this:  It is a sobering thing to contemplate our government enacting an unjust law. An unjust law cannot be obeyed. In the face of an unjust law, an accommodation is not to be sought, especially by resorting to equivocal words and deceptive practices. If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them. No American desires this. No Catholic welcomes it. But if it should fall upon us, we must discharge it as a duty of citizenship and an obligation of faith.

Just this past week someone asked me to specify exactly how the Catholic Church is being targeted in ways that threaten the free exercise of faith.  While I knew a few of the particular cases to look up, the bishops'  statement helpfully lists and explains seven specific incidents which constitute a threat to religious liberty. 

For a summary of the statement see Catholic News Agency's article.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

U.S. National Guardsman Saves Afghani Girl

The date on this is March 29th, but it seems fitting to post this sort of sacrifice now in the octave of Easter. 

Liberal Arts Colleges

Perhaps it's finally happening that parents, students and maybe the public in general are acknowledging that the cost of a four-year college education doesn't measure up to its value.  A recent conference at Lafayette College examined some of the problems plaguing liberal arts colleges, and, not surprisingly, college presidents and administrators decided that the problems do not lie with the colleges but with the public that doesn't understand what colleges do!  It's the 'narrative' that's the problem and colleges need to create a new one.  What hubris.  

For example, "A common refrain from the conference was that it’s not the liberal arts colleges that are broken, but rather the conversation that they have been caught up in."  and "We must continue to stay the course, not make concessions to a population that does not understand what we do, and make the case that what we do is valuable,” Daniel H. Weiss, Lafayette's president, said."  

Administrators also touted the on-campus residential experience as necessary to developing "well-rounded students."  Well-rounded?  It would have been more accurate had they said that the residential on-campus experience is essential to one of academe's less openly touted goals,  that of re-creating students in its own image.  Campus life, away from parents and almost any kind of responsible adult supervision, helps to break down whatever values and beliefs students bring with them when they enter college, thus making students more easily influenced by the 'enlightened, nuanced' air they breathe on their college campus.

And, here is a related article.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Crucifixion: A Medical Perspective

This Palm Sunday homily sent to me by a friend offers another perspective on the crucifixion. 

Constitution Course

You may be interested in Hillsdale College's free on-line course on the U.S. Constitution.   Go here.  There will be a total of  10 lectures, each about 40 minutes in length, which you can access at any time.  Each lecture has accompanying readings (posted for our convenience), a Q&A session and a quiz.  I'm particularly fond of the quizzes which you can take until you get an A.  

Lecture 6 treats the matter of religious freedom and every reading addresses the current controversy over the HHS mandate, Obama's calculated strikes at the Church and religious liberty as well as the frequent cry by those who mis-understand what is meant by the separation of church and state.  The Virginia Declaration of Rights, section 16 says:
That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.
Notice the words 'according to the dictates of conscience.'

In Madison's On Property, read first his definition of property and then what he has to say about freedom of religion: 

Conscience is the most sacred of all property; other property depending in part on positive law, the exercise of that, being a natural and unalienable right. To guard a man’s house as his castle, to pay public and enforce private debts with the most exact faith, can give no title to invade a man’s conscience which is more sacred than his castle, or to withhold from it that debt of protection, for which the public faith is pledged, by the very nature and original conditions of the social pact.
  Madison goes on in a kind of humorous vein to protest heavy-handed government seizing property:
What must be the spirit of legislation where a manufacturer of linen cloth is forbidden to bury his own child in a linen shroud, in order to favor his neighbour who manufactures woolen cloth; where the manufacturer and wearer of woolen cloth are again forbidden the economical use of buttons of that material, in favor of the manufacturer of buttons of other materials!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

U.S. Soldiers Save Boy's Life

An under-reported side of the war which you can read about here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Will The Left Fight the Real War on Women

You can read this article here.  After listing some truly horrible offenses against women such as rape, forced marriages and sex-selective abortion, the author points out that,
Instead of tackling any one of these important issues that set back the clock on women’s rights centuries, the feminist left has decided that the possible denial of free contraception is what constitutes a war on the fairer sex.
Amen.  As she goes on to note,
You can be a misogynist and disparage women (preferably conservative), as long as you vote a straight Democratic ticket each and every election.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Father Guarnizo - Continuing Story

The details of the incident can be found here but, in brief, Fr. Guarnizo of St. John Neumann parish in Gaithersburg, MD refused communion during a funeral service to a woman who, just prior to the service, rather aggressively introduced herself and her lover to the priest proclaiming themselves to be lesbians.  After the communion incident, the lesbian, Ms. Johnson, in so many words informed Fr. Guarnizo that she was going to make an example of him.  His bishop responded by removing Fr. Guarnizo from pastoral duties while claiming it had nothing to do with the lesbian incident but rather to do with other complaints from staff about the priest.

There are technicalities to the incident as, for example, the relevance or not of Canon 915, and who did exactly what, when and why, but it is not a pretty tale no matter how you look at it.  Ms. Johnson would seem to have intentionally provoked the priest, most likely in order to 'expose' the Catholic Church as--gasp--homophobic!  The occurrence is another battle in the culture war being waged by all those open-minded and tolerant progressives against the Catholic Church.  Fr. Guarnizo puts it this way in his recent open letter: 
what happened I believe contains a warning to the church. Such circumstances can and will be repeated multiple times over if the local church does not make clear to all Catholics that openly confessing sin is something one does to a priest in the confessional, not minutes before the Mass in which the Holy Eucharist is given. 
 And shouldn't the Church also make clear what is at stake when an admittedly practicing lesbian presents herself for communion?

Read Fr. Guarnizo's statement on the incident here.   And, for continuing coverage and commentary on this and other Catholic issues go to this blog, Restore DC Catholicism  which I found interesting.

Monday, March 5, 2012

From Archbishop Dolan's Blog

Cardinal Dolan has a good piece on his blog about the more recent dvelopments concerning the HHS mandate.  He points out that the Obama administration has written off the bishops as the voice of the Catholic Church.  Instead Obama and company are advising the bishops to listen to voices of accomodation within the Church, that is, the voices that agree with Obama!  As Cardinal Dolan says ".. . . . . . we have to be realistic and prepare for tough times."  Hmm, something about the "armor of God" might be appropriate about now?

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  (Ephesians 6, 10-12)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ode To Leap Year

This poetic tribute to Leap Year was debuted in an invitation-only, private salon reading in the home of the author on February 29, 2004.  Some will remember that special occasion. . .. .


How oft the clock we wish to turn back to an earlier time,
To celebrate a bygone day we now view as sublime,
To be ourselves once more as we believe that we once were,
As babe-in-cradle, tot or teen, any age we might prefer
To this one. Where we are right now. The unforgiving present.
Where we can only dream a past that memory turns so pleasant.

But stay a moment. Listen up. For this year something’s different.
For this year February has all twenty-nine days in it!
It’s thank ye to Pope Gregory that only leap kiddies may wander
Once every four years backwards where our memories find it fonder.
So this year, leap kids round the world can shout a ‘Hallelujah!’
And turn deaf ears when folks say to us,
“You don’t have a REAL birthday….. Do ya’?”

Of course we do! But not like you who count the years by onesies.
We count our birthdays one in four, growing hardly past our twenties.
We live in a perpetual state of youthful animation
As we calculate our leap birthdate with neat multiplication.
By the time we’ve lived four years we’ve really just completed one.
And when we’re twenty, we turn five. Our schooling’s just begun.
Thirteen times four, our thirteenth year, we’re in our adolescence.
Nineteen times four, not twenty, and full of effervescence!

Oh, time passes for us too. We know. The mirror doesn’t spare us.
Those years between we’re just like you who age as each year passes.
But every four there’s Februar’ with all its days in order,
And we revert to young-at-heart and shout a happy chorus.

Praise leap year then!
Send out to find that special Jack or Jane!
And raise a cheer to those this year who’ll be younger once again.

Amy De Rosa

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Nonmarital Births Among Young Women

In this article, the New York Times is basically reporting on one of the themes of Charles Murray's new book, Coming Apart, although there's no mention of Murray until almost halfway through the article!  Oh well.  The Times leads off with the fact that among women under 30, more than half of births are outside of marriage,  'nonmarital births' as Murray calls them. 

The Times puts an objective, neutral, non-judgmental, well, their own spin on it with  phrases like "the transforming family" and "rewards of marriage increasingly reserved for people with the most education."   Ideological mumbo jumbo on the part of the Times journalist!  Here's more mumbo jumbo:  "Money helps explain why well-educated Americans still marry at high rates: they can offer each other more financial support, and hire others to do chores that prompt conflict."

It's exactly the other way around of course.  Marriage is one of the major factors in leading people out of poverty!  Read this article by Robert Rector  and this one on married fathers also by Mr. Rector.  For a lighter treatment of the same issue, see this article.   

What particularly chafes is that this development is another example of the unabashed hypocrisy and deception of feminist ideology.  Unfortunately, young women still seem to be taking the bait--hook, line and sinker---that they'll be able to do it all.  In this case that includes raising children without the benefit of a father and husband while simultaneously bringing home the income necessary to support themselves and their children.  All this while somehow managing to maintain a reasonable standard of living and quality of life for themselves and their children.  If a young woman is thrust into this situation through the vagaries of life, that's one thing.  But for young women to make a choice to be husbandless and for their children to be fatherless is a sad thing for these women, their children and our society.  Unnecessary also.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Some Weasels

According to Bishop Jenky of Peoria, Illinois, there is a place where unfaithful Catholic politicians might eventually find themselves. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Culture War

Following along with the most recent battle in the culture war of Obama vs. the Catholic Church, here are two good articles, one and two, that explain why Obama's 'accommodation' has been rejected by the bishops and others.   A quote from the first article: 
It is morally obtuse for the administration to suggest (as it does) that this is a meaningful accommodation of religious liberty because the insurance company will be the one to inform the employee that she is entitled to the embryo-destroying “five day after pill” pursuant to the insurance contract purchased by the religious employer. It does not matter who explains the terms of the policy purchased by the religiously affiliated or observant employer. What matters is what services the policy covers. 
A quote from the second article explains that many institutions (such as the Archdiocese of NY) self-insure. 
Third, this does nothing to protect churches and other institutions like EWTN that are self-insured. The whole point of the compromise is to stick the burden on the insurer. Well, for many dioceses and folks like EWTN, they are the insurers — so they are still being forced to directly provide the coverage that violates their religion. Ironically, many of these institutions self-insure precisely in order to avoid state-law requirements to provide these drugs. So the president, whether intentionally or not, is eliminating the safety valve that works in many states to protect religious institutions. Thanks for that “compromise.”

Thursday, February 9, 2012

162 Reasons To Marry

From Family Research Council, read them here.

Obama Strong on Defense


Slack-jawed and awed by a marshmallow gun, President Obama said he will deploy hundreds of these to crisis areas around the globe. They will replace the Soldiers and Marines who would ususally keep the world safe for democracy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nagasaki Martyrs - February 6

Among the 26 martyrs was Saint Paul Miki who, while hanging on the cross, said “After Christ's example, I forgive my persecutors. I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all, and I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as a fruitful rain.”

Monday, February 6, 2012

Charles Murray in the WSJ

Charles Murray is in the news again because of his new book, Coming Apart.   This article gives a taste of the book I'm guessing.  A couple interesting quotes are below.

In explaining the growing gap between what he calls the new upper class and the new lower class Murray writes,  
As I've argued in much of my previous work, I think that the reforms of the 1960s jump-started the deterioration. Changes in social policy during the 1960s made it economically more feasible to have a child without having a husband if you were a woman or to get along without a job if you were a man; safer to commit crimes without suffering consequences; and easier to let the government deal with problems in your community that you and your neighbors formerly had to take care of.  
In talking about religious affiliation and its decline among the new lower class (i.e. Fishtown in this article) he says,
Whatever your personal religious views, you need to realize that about half of American philanthropy, volunteering and associational memberships is directly church-related, and that religious Americans also account for much more nonreligious social capital than their secular neighbors. In that context, it is worrisome for the culture that the U.S. as a whole has become markedly more secular since 1960, and especially worrisome that Fishtown has become much more secular than Belmont. It runs against the prevailing narrative of secular elites versus a working class still clinging to religion, but the evidence from the General Social Survey, the most widely used database on American attitudes and values, does not leave much room for argument.
His discussion of a remedy to the growing gap between the classes is directed toward the upper classes: 
Life sequestered from anybody not like yourself tends to be self-limiting. Places to live in which the people around you have no problems that need cooperative solutions tend to be sterile. America outside the enclaves of the new upper class is still a wonderful place, filled with smart, interesting, entertaining people. If you're not part of that America, you've stripped yourself of much of what makes being American special.

Such priorities can be expressed in any number of familiar decisions: the neighborhood where you buy your next home, the next school that you choose for your children, what you tell them about the value and virtues of physical labor and military service, whether you become an active member of a religious congregation (and what kind you choose) and whether you become involved in the life of your community at a more meaningful level than charity events. 
In conclusion Mr. Murray kind of plays devil's advocate to his own proposal and says,  "We're supposed to trust that large numbers of parents will spontaneously, voluntarily make the right choice for the country by making the right choice for themselves and their children?"  His answer to this is yes. 

Maybe that's his Libertarian side coming through--you don't need a lot of directives, plans and legislation; just leave people alone and good people will do the right thing.  The problem is that they don't, that the road to hell is often paved with the good intentions of good people and, anyway, there are plenty of bad people out there promoting bad things that destroy the efforts of the good people. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hosana-Tabor vs. EEOC

Here's a good article, an old one, I stumbled across that clearly explains what was at issue in the now-decided religious liberty case, Hosana-Tabor vs. EEOC.  And here is the article that states Obama called Archbishop Dolan to tell him of the HHS decision.  I didn't read this anywhere else.  The article also states that Obama had assured Dolan in a previous meeting that Dolan would be happy with the results of the conscience rights decision.  Obama certainly has a strange take on life as the president of the U.S.  Seems it's always opposite day for him!
For another perspective on the matter, read Fr. Rutler's parish notes.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

March for Life 2012

Homily of Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan

7:30 a.m., Monday, January 23, 2012

Closing Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

You have just spent the night in your mother’s homes!

You have “kept vigil” that cherished tradition so frequently found in the Bible, and now we commence this somber anniversary her in our Mother’s home, our National Shrine, in the best possible way, through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

I welcome all of you!
I whisper “good morning” to so many of you who have kept vigil here for the noble cause of life;
I thank you for the radiant inspiration you give all of us.

That radiant inspiration we need indeed as we persevere in this now two-score years of promoting a recovery of the culture of life gravely threatened by unlimited abortion.

Simply put, we are often tempted to give up hope that we can even turn it around.

In this morning’s Gospel, Jesus mentions some mysterious “unforgiveable sin against the Holy Spirit.” What is it?

Wise men and women, saints and scholars, tell us that Jesus is teaching that, really, the only unforgiveable sin…is to believe that there is any sin which cannot be forgiven, that God’s mercy is limited.

Nope! God’s mercy, God’s grace, God’s power is unlimited! There is no evil, no horror, no sin that is exempt from the healing rays of His grace.

Not even the horrors of the culture of death!

From a human point of view, we may be tempted to surrender;

When our government places conception, pregnancy and birth under the “Center for Disease Control”;

When chemically blocking conception or aborting the baby in the womb is considered a “right” to be subsidized by others who abhor it;

When the ability of feeding, housing, and healing the struggling of the world is curtailed and impeded if one does not also help women abort their babies;

One can hardly be faulted for being tempted to the “sin against the Holy Spirit” and just consider all as lost.

Not us! Not for thousands who have stayed up all night in prayer in this, the home of a pregnant woman;

Not for hundreds of thousands who will march today with the words of “We Shall Overcome” ringing in our ears;

Not for those of us who whisper “Thanks be to God” as we behold untold numbers of young people with passion for the Culture of Life, those of us old enough to recall thirty-nine years ago when sophisticated voices told us that the “pro-life movement” was just a momentary fad that would soon crash upon the shores of a “brave new world.” We veterans who now smile as the pro-life cause is acknowledged as today’s premiere civil rights movement still, in spite of editorial pages and chic tsk-tsk the most pivotal, burning issue on the campaign trail.

Yes, like David in our reading from God’s word this morning, the pro-life movement has been dismissed by the Goliath of the well-oiled, well-inked, glitterati-crowded pro-abortion one…. But, Goliath the Giant didn’t win, did he? Trusting, shrewd,
Faithful, confident, energetic little David did!

Thank you, David…for the radiant inspiration you give us!

Here is Cardinal Di Nardo's homily from the Sunday evening before the March.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

". . . an unprecedented line in the sand."

Just last Friday, the Obama administration rendered its decision on religious organizations receiving a wider exemption regarding coverage of sterilization and contraception in health care plans.  They won't.  Archbishop Dolan has responded with this article in the Wall Street Journal and has also commented that "never has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience."

Some related articles can be found here and here.  Archbishop Dolan offers this video as well.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The New Evangelization

If  you're a Catholic, you're probably familiar with the phrase by now. In this Zenit article, Father Cantalamessa gives a readable account of the whys and wherefors of the new evangelization called for by Pope Benedict.  This article is actually the fourth in a series of Advent reflections which I only followed sketchily, but since this one helps put the others in better context,  it will be worthwhile to read the others as well. 

The previous evangelizations pertained to the Graeco-Roman world, the barbarian world and the new world.  The current wave, says Father Cantalamessa (and the Pope, of course), is directed "to the western world that has been secularized and in some respects is post-Christian. This analysis, which already appeared in the writings of Blessed John Paul II, has become explicit in the teaching of the Holy Father Benedict XVI."

Fr. Cantalamessa says that the western world is characterized by "scientism, secularism, and rationalism -- the three mindsets that lead to a common result, relativism."

I've only highlighted a few opening paragraphs of the article. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Manifest Your Power, O God

Pope Benedict's Christmas Eve homily can be read here.  The Pope describes how we can approach God, by leaving our own "enlightened" reason behind. 
Today, anyone wishing to enter the Church of Jesus’ Nativity in Bethlehem will find that the doorway five and a half metres high, through which emperors and caliphs used to enter the building, is now largely walled up. Only a low opening of one and a half metres has remained. The intention was probably to provide the church with better protection from attack, but above all to prevent people from entering God’s house on horseback. Anyone wishing to enter the place of Jesus’ birth has to bend down. It seems to me that a deeper truth is revealed here, which should touch our hearts on this holy night: if we want to find the God who appeared as a child, then we must dismount from the high horse of our "enlightened" reason. 
The Pope also expresses some of the human doubts we may give in to in the face of a world that seems unable to resolve its conflicts and recognize the dignity of the person.  Benedict speaks of the "oppressors’ rods and bloodstained cloaks" and says: 
we cry out to the Lord: O mighty God, you have appeared as a child and you have revealed yourself to us as the One who loves us, the One through whom love will triumph. And you have shown us that we must be peacemakers with you. We love your childish estate, your powerlessness, but we suffer from the continuing presence of violence in the world, and so we also ask you: manifest your power, O God. In this time of ours, in this world of ours, cause the oppressors’ rods, the cloaks rolled in blood and the footgear of battle to be burned, so that your peace may triumph in this world of ours.