Friday, December 21, 2007

Chesterton and Christmas, Part V

After today, our office will be closed until January 2.

Thus, I won't be working until January 2.

Thus, I won't have a lunch break until January 2.

Thus, I won't be blogging until January 2.

So, I'll have to include not only today's installment of the Chesterton Advent Calendar (explanation here) but also those for the 22nd through Christmas Day itself.

21 December

Christ commanded us to have love for all men, but even if we had equal love for all men, to speak of having the same love for all men is merely bewildering nonsense. If we love a man at all, the impression he produces on us must be vitally different to the impression produced by another man whom we love. To speak of having the same kind of regard for both is about as sensible as asking a man whether he prefers chrysanthemums or billiards. Christ did not love humanity; He never said He loved humanity: He loved men. Neither He nor anyone else can love humanity; it is like loving a gigantic centipede. —Twelve Types

22 December

Religion has had to provide that longest and strangest telescope - the telescope through which we could see the star upon which we dwelt. For the mind and eyes of the average man this world is as lost as Eden and as sunken as Atlantis. —The Defendant

23 December

Fortunately, however, being happy is not so important as having a jolly time. Philosophers are happy; saints have a jolly time. The important thing in life is not to keep a steady system of pleasure and composure (which can be done quite well by hardening one's heart or thickening one's head), but to keep alive in oneself the immortal power of astonishment and laughter, and a kind of young reverence. This is why religion always insists on special days like Christmas, while philosophy always tends to despise them. Religion is interested not in whether a man is happy, but whether he is still alive, whether he can still react in a normal way to new things, whether he blinks in a blinding light or laughs when he is tickled. That is the best of Christmas, that it is a startling and disturbing happiness; it is an uncomfortable comfort. The Christmas customs destroy the human habits. And while customs are generally unselfish, habits are nearly always selfish. The object of the religious festival is, as I have said, to find out if a happy man is still alive. A man can smile when he is dead. Composure, resignation, and the most exquisite goo dmanners are, so to speak, the strong points of corpses. There is only one way in which you can test his real vitality, and that is by a special festival. Explode cracker in his ear, and see if he jumps. Prick him with holly, and see if he feels it. If not, he is dead, or, as he would put it, is "living the higher life." —Illustrated London News, 1908

24 December

Almighty God to all mankind on Christmas Day said He:
"I rent you from the old red hills and, rending made you free.
There was charter, there was challenge; in a blast of breath I gave;
You can be all things other; you cannot be a slave.
You shall be tired and tolerant of fancies as they fade,
But if men doubt the Charter, ye shall call on the Crusade –
Trumpet and torch and catapult, cannon and bow and blade,
Because it was My challenge to all the things I made." —A Christmas Song for Three Guilds

25 December

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world
But here is all aright.) —A Xmas Carol

Season's greetings! Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!

Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.

"Lights, please."

Linus said it best.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

What Works and What Doesn't Work

From LifeSite:

"Shoddy Research" in Study Claiming all Types of "Sex Ed" Delayed Teen Intercourse

Made no distinction between abstinence education and usual "comprehensive" sex ed

By Hilary White

WASHINGTON, December 19, 2007 ( - A new American study has implied that any or all types of "sex education" significantly delays the start of sexual activity in teens. But what some news media is downplaying is that the research made no distinction between abstinence education and more mainstream "comprehensive" sex education based on contraception.

In the study, students were understood to have received sex education if they had either or both types of instruction.

Read the whole thing.

Previous Related Coverage on the Generations for Life blog

[Cross-posted at Generations for Life]

Chesterton and Christmas, Part IV

Explanation here.

20 December

Meanwhile, it remains true that I shall eat a great deal of turkey this Christmas; and it is not in the least true (as the vegetarians say) that I shall do it because I do not realise what I am doing, or because I do what I know is wrong, or that I do it with shame or doubt or a fundamental unrest of conscience. In one sense I know quite well what I am doing; in another sense I know quite well that I know not what I do. Scrooge and the Cratchits and I are, as I have said, all in one boat; the turkey and I are, to say the most of it, ships that pass in the night, and greet each other in passing. I wish him well; but it is really practically impossible to discover whether I treat him well. I can avoid, and I do avoid with horror, all special and artificial tormenting of him, sticking pins in him for fun or sticking knives in him for scientific investigation. But whether by feeding him slowly and killing him quickly for the needs of my brethren, I have improved in his own solemn eyes his own strange and separate destiny, whether I have made him in the sight of God a slave or a martyr, or one whom the gods love and who die young—that is far more removed from my possibilities of knowledge than the most abstruse intricacies of mysticism or theology. A turkey is more occult and awful than all the angels and archangels In so far as God has partly revealed to us an angelic world, he has partly told us what an angel means. But God has never told us what a turkey means. And if you go and stare at a live turkey for an hour or two, you will find by the end of it that the enigma has rather increased than diminished. —All Things Considered

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chesterton and Christmas, Part III

Explanation here.

19 December

The writer writes these words before Christmas; some readers will read them after Chrismtas; an awful thought. For I always dimly and dumbly think of life after Christmas as of life after death. I hasten to add that I believe that both will occur. I also add that, as becomes any healthy man, I fear death, but do not fear Christmas—no, not even if it result in death. But I do unconsciously count them both as the end of something and all days beyond them as comparatively vague and visionary. Whenever the year is ending I feel that the world is ending, and I desire to make a good end. I think the best end ever made by mortal man—better than Nelson shot through his stars or Douglas hurling the heart of Bruce—was the death of Faber, who confessed and received all the sacraments of his Church, and on being told he had an hour to live, said: "Then I can hear the last number of 'Pickwick,'" and died hearing it.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

During Advent, I'm trying — and often failing — to spend time looking at each day's Scripture readings (the Gospel readings in particular) with the help of the Navarre Bible — which, incidentally, is a highly invaluable resource I can't recommend highly enough.

The Gospel reading from today's Mass is Luke 1:18-25. In the commentary on verse 25, I came across this rich theological and mariological (is that word?) tidbit the editors pointed out:

St. Jerome gives the following reasons why it was fitting that the Mother of God, as well as being a virgin, should also be married: first, so that Mary's child would be clearly a descendant of King David (through the genealogy of St. Joseph); second, to ensure that on having a son her honour would not be questioned nor any legal penalty be imposed on her; third, so that during the flight into Egypt she would have the help and protection of St. Joseph.

This, I thought, was particularly interesting:

He even points to a fourth possible reason, expressly taken from St. Ignatius Martyr, and to which he seems to give less importance—that the birth of Jesus would go unnoticed by the devil, who would not know about the virginal conception of our Lord (cf. Comm. on St Matthew, 1, 1).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Chesterton and Christmas, Part II

Explanation in my last post.

18 December

When, in "[A] Christmas Carol," Scrooge refers to the surplus population, the Spirit tells him, very justly, not to speak till he knows what the surplus is and where it is. The implication is severe but sound. When a group of superciliously benevolent economists look down into the abyss for the surplus population, assuredly there is only one answer that should be given to them; and that is to say, "If there is a surplus, you are a surplus." And if anyone were ever cut off, they would be. —Charles Dickens

Monday, December 17, 2007

Chesterton and Christmas

I mentioned in my last post two elderly friends of mine, Frank and Ann Petta, whom I know through the Chicago Area G. K. Chesterton Society (they founded the group when I was but a wee lad living 400 miles away in Northeast Minneapolis).

Every year in the mailing advertising the society's annual Christmas Party, Frank sends along "A Chesterton Advent Calendar", a sheet containing excerpts from Chesterton's writings — a mix of prose and poetry — one for each of the ten days leading up to Christmas, and for Christmas Day itself. Some of the quotations are directly related to Christmas; others not so much.

Why, you may ask, doesn't he include a Chesterton quotation for each day of Advent?

Beats me. That's just the kind of sui generis fellow Frank is.

Throughout this week, I'll be including these quotations herein, with references whenever possible.

15 December

Here am I, Father Christmas; well you know it,
Though critics say it fades, my Christmas Tree,
Yet was it Dickens who became my poet
And who the Dickens may the critics be?

16 December

Comfort, especially this vision of Christmas comfort, is the reverse of a gross or material thing. It is far more poetical, properly speaking, than the Garden of Epicurus. It is far more artistic than the Palace of Art. It is more artistic because it is based upon a contrast, a contrast between the fire and wine within the house and the winter and the roaring rains without. It is far more poetical, because there is in it a note of defence, almost of war; a note of being besieged by the snow and hail; of making merry in the belly of a fort. —Charles Dickens

17 December

Damn it, I sometimes think the only English thing left in England is cherry brandy. —The Quick One

Friday, December 14, 2007

Catherine Doherty, Servant of God

Today is the 22nd anniversary of the death of Catherine Doherty.

Catherine Doherty

Her Wikipedia entry begins:

Servant of God Catherine Doherty (August 15, 1896–December 14, 1985) was a social activist and foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate. A pioneer of social justice and a renowned national speaker, Catherine was also a prolific writer of hundreds of articles, best-selling author of dozens of books, and a dedicated wife and mother. Her cause for canonization as a saint is under consideration by the Catholic Church.

An amazing life story, hers.

Born in Russia, she and her family were nearly killed during the Russian Revolution. A website dedicated to her cause for canonization explains its impact on her:

The Revolution marked Catherine for life. She saw it as the tragic consequence of a Christian society’s failure to incarnate its faith. All her life she cried out against the hypocrisy of those who professed to follow Christ, while failing to serve him in others.

Get Yourself Mutilated and Return to Work the Same Day!

As reported in today's Chicago Tribune:

Panel OKs tubal ligation alternative

WASHINGTON, D.C. - An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration recommended Thursday the approval of a new method for sterilizing women as an alternative to tubal ligation.

The procedure takes 15 minutes and involves using radio signals to create a lesion inside the fallopian tube. A catheter delivers a soft material smaller than a grain of rice into the tube. Healthy tissue then grows on and around the material to create a permanent blockage.

Patients typically can return to work within a day.

This New And Improved Sterilization Procedure ® is currently in Phase One of the Two Phases of History (per Mark Shea). To wit:

1. What could it hurt?

It will, sooner or later — and my money is on sooner — enter Phase Two:

2. How could we have known?

Because, you know, no one could ever possibly foresee that a procedure that mutilates a woman's body will lead to significant health problems, right?

Previous attempts to create the ideal sterilization procedure — either for women or for men — have resulted in major health risks.

Why the blazes would anyone think this New And Improved Sterilization Procedure ® will be different?

It's maddening to consider how many billions of dollars have been spent in Sisyphean pursuit of The Perfect Contraceptive.

All this, as Mary Beth Bonacci once said, "to prevent a single little egg from doing its thing once a month."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

You Learn Something New Every Day

As today is the feast of St. Lucy, happy feast day to our third daughter!

Her given name is actually Maria Lucia (all three of our daughters have the first name Maria, and we call them by their middle names), so she actually has two patron saints (Our Lady and St. Lucy), as well as a hopefully-will-be-declared-a-saint-someday patron, Sister Lucia dos Santos.

And, coincidentally, in light of yesterday's celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I just learned this morning that St. Juan Diego's wife's was also named Maria Lucia.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I Don't Read Books Much Anymore

Over the course of my adult life, I've had innumerable conversations that go something like this:

Interlocutor: Have you read [Name of a Particular Book]?

Me: That's the one by [Name of Said Particular Book's Author], right?


Me: That's the one about [Very General Plot Summary of Said Particular Book], right?

Interlocutor: Yeah — have you read it?

Me: No.

Interlocutor: [With much gusto] Oh, it's great! You've gotta read it...

As I have remarked previously on this blog, I love to read — not entirely unlike Burgess Meredith's character in one of the most famous episodes of The Twilight Zone.

But since Jocelyn and I started having kids, I have precious little time for personal reading.

It must have been with guys like me in mind that University of Paris professor Pierre Bayard wrote How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read.

The problem is, of course: When would I have time to read it?

I've already read this review — written, ironically (or rather, not ironically, come to think of it), by someone who hasn't had time to read it either.

That'll have to do, I guess.

Now I'm able to talk about How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read.

[HT: Mark Shea]

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fighting for Our First Amendment Rights

Last month, we — that is, the Pro-Life Action League, the organization I work for — decided we needed to start holding monthly protests outside the recently opened Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Aurora, IL. (As I have remarked previously, since this facility is the largest abortion clinic in the U. S., we have taken to calling it the "Abortion Fortress of Aurora".)

In the course of exercising our First Amendment rights by organizing prayer vigils, rallies, protests, and the like outside the facility's site these past several months, we've encountered not a few difficulties from the City of Aurora's powers that be.

We've already sued the city once
, and will likely have to do so again.

Why, you may ask? For a whole host of reasons, really.

For starters, pro-life blogger Jill Stanek explains:

With no plan in sight to pour sidewalks so those citizens can safely protest according to their First Amendment rights, or even so the poor women of America can safely trudge barefoot and accidentally pregnant to Planned Parenthood's largest abortion mill in the U.S., Aurora city officials have instead erected nonsensical signs to nowhere banning pro-life presense from anywhere across the street from PP (click to enlarge)....

My friend and co-worker Eric Scheidler, who has been spearheading our multi-faceted activism campaign in Aurora, comments on these signs:

The "beyond this point" one is funny. There isn't any "point" there. It's just in the middle of Oakhurst, sort of facing the south, as if to say you can't protest north of this sign. But the other one, that just says "no protesting," is actually SOUTH of the "beyond this point" sign. It's nonsense. Typical Aurora incompetence.

There are a similar pair of signs farther south. One faces west, out into the street, and says "beyond this point." But there's no logical "point" the sign could be referring to. Across the street is a regular "no protesting" sign. But that's the one place where a "beyond this point" sign might make a little sense. Heigh ho.

During our protest last month, Aurora police approached a fellow I know named Roger Earl, who was walking with his five-month old daughter on the only public sidewalk in the vicinity of Planned Parenthood. (His wife, meanwhile, was sidewalk counseling.)

Here's how a reporter from the Chicago Tribune described the events that transpired:

Police threatened to arrest a man praying and walking with his infant along the east side of Oakhurst, near a residential community.

"I wasn't planning to be part of the protest today," said Aurora resident Roger Earl. "I didn't realize that I was breaking any law by walking along the sidewalk praying."

Earl said he was near the protest because his wife was participating, and he was watching their infant. He said police approached him and asked him whether he was part of the protest, warned him twice and then threatened to arrest him.

Police spokesman Dan Ferrelli said Earl was praying and wearing an insignia indicating he opposed abortion.

[Aurora Police Chief William] Powell defended the police enforcement.

"If he's praying here, he's here because of the building. He can pray at home or anywhere," he said.

Believe it or not, in light of comments made by Chief Powell at an Aurora City Council meeting earlier that week, what he said here is not out of character for him.

Another friend of mine, JT Eschbach, just posted video he took of Roger talking about the incident with the Chicago Tribune reporter — and, it appears, at least one other reporter as well. (Note also: The fellow in the red hat, standing behind Roger, is Jason Craddock, one of our attorneys from the Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center.)

Here's the video:

For our part, we remain undeterred. Our next protest is this Saturday.

Pray for us. And, more importantly, pray for an end to abortion — an especially fitting petition as we prepare to celebrate tomorrow the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the Patroness of the Unborn.

[Cross-posted at Catholic Dads]

Monday, December 10, 2007

Who Knew?

As we were getting the song sheets ready for next week's Empty Manger Christmas Caroling outside several local abortion clinics, I learned two things about one of my favorite carols, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.

First, I learned that the title is "God Rest Ye Merry [COMMA] Gentlemen", and not "God Rest Ye [COMMA] Merry Gentlemen".

Heretofore, I'd always thought the carol had only three verses. It actually has seven:

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
For Jesus Christ our Saviour (or Remember Christ our Saviour)
Was born upon this day (or Was born on Christmas Day)
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

In Bethlehem, in Jewry, (or "in Israel")
This blessèd Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessèd morn
To which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessèd Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

"Fear not then," said the Angel,
"Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan's power and might."

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind:
And went to Bethlehem straightway
This blessed Babe to find. (or The Son of God to find)

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

But when to Bethlehem they came (or And when they came to Bethlehem)
Whereat this Infant lay, (or Where our dear Saviour lay)
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His Mother Mary kneeling, (or His mother Mary kneeling down,)
Unto the Lord did pray.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth efface.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Friday, December 7, 2007

"What Would Jesus Do?" Is the Wrong Question

From Catholic Pillow Fight, via Christina at RealChoice:

"When someone asks you 'think about what Jesus would do', remember that a valid option is to freak out and turn over tables" -- Unknown

Which prompted me to recall...

A down-to-earth, smart, holy, and funny priest I know once gave a talk in which he said that the ubiquitious WWJD question is quite the *wrong* question for a Christian to ask.

If we want to ask what Jesus would do, we'd have to look at what He did, in fact, do, and emulate it to a "T".

Among (many, many) other things, He grew a beard, became a carpenter, remained single, lived with His Mom until He was 30, and kept kosher.

But that doesn't meant we have to do these things.

The question we should ask is not, "What would Jesus do?" but rather, "What would Jesus want me to do?"

"Without Stain"

In honor of tomorrow's solemnity, it never hurts to remind ourselves what Holy Mother Church teaches (and what she does not teach) about the Immaculate Conception:

It’s important to understand what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is and what it is not. Some people think the term refers to Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb without the intervention of a human father; but that is the Virgin Birth. Others think the Immaculate Conception means Mary was conceived "by the power of the Holy Spirit," in the way Jesus was, but that, too, is incorrect. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain—that’s what "immaculate" means: without stain.

It's interesting to note that the Church places greater importance on this day, when she commemorates the conception of Mary in the womb of St. Anne, than on the day she commemorates Mary's birth — celebrated, appropriately enough, nine months from today, on September 8.

In honor of the celebration of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception, I've included below what is, in my opinion, the most cogent paragraph ever written on Marian devotion.

It's from The Everlasting Man, my favorite work of G. K. Chesterton.

Given that we're in the midst of Advent, it's also rather timely:

If the world wanted what is called a non-controversial aspect of Christianity, it would probably select Christmas. Yet it is obviously bound up with what is supposed to be a controversial aspect (I could never at any stage of my opinions imagine why); the respect paid to the Blessed Virgin. When I was a boy a more Puritan generation objected to a statue upon my parish church representing the Virgin and Child. After much controversy, they compromised by taking away the Child. One would think that this was even more corrupted with Mariolatry, unless the mother was counted less dangerous when deprived of a sort of weapon. But the practical difficulty is also a parable. You cannot chip away the statue of a mother from all round that of a newborn child. You cannot suspend the new-born child in mid-air; indeed you cannot really have a statue of a newborn child at all. Similarly, you cannot suspend the idea of a newborn child in the void or think of him without thinking of his mother. You cannot visit the child without visiting the mother, you cannot in common human life approach the child except through the mother. If we are to think of Christ in this aspect at all, the other idea follows as it is followed in history. We must either leave Christ out of Christmas, or Christmas out of Christ, or we must admit, if only as we admit it in an old picture, that those holy heads are too near together for the haloes not to mingle and cross.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

There's a Little Bit of the Erstwhile Gerasene Demoniac in All of Us

A few weeks ago at our men's bible study group (consisting mostly, but not entirely, of other guys at our parish), we were discussing the story of the Gerasene/Gadarene demoniac in Luke 8:26-39.

I suppose I've read this story many times before, but I was particularly struck by one thing in verses 38-39 that I'd never paid attention to until then:

The man from whom the demons had come out begged to remain with him [Jesus], but he [Jesus] sent him away, saying,

"Return home and recount what God has done for you."

The man went off and proclaimed throughout the whole town what Jesus had done for him.

Isn't it intersting how this man told Jesus he wanted to remain with Him — what could be more noble of a sentiment than that? — and yet Jesus tells him no!

Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch, but it seems to me there's something of an everyman in the erstwhile Gerasene demoniac. How often does each of us formulate in our own mind a plan for how we want to live out our discipleship, only to have the Holy Spirit illuminate a path for us that we never expected to traverse?

My friend and co-worker Matt Yonke posted an entry on his blog recently that prompted me to recall this Gospel story. Therein, Matt — the father of a just-turned-one-year old boy — wrote about how he and his wife Erin have found it rather difficult in recent months to really immerse themselves in Divine Liturgy, what with their having to tend to their son.

My wife and I can surely relate (our oldest will be five next month, and our youngest is seven months), and no doubt many of you can, too.

I'm inclined to think that this is simply one of the things we as parents simply have to deal with. Once we start having kids, are we going to be able to immerse ourselves as fully into the Mass/Divine Liturgy as we would before we had kids?

It seems to me the answer is clearly no; we're not. It's inevitable — to one extent or another, depending on a given child's temperament — that dealing with little ones at church means we're not going to reach the level of sublime contemplation we would otherwise like to achieve.

It also seems to me that this is — paradoxically — a sacrifice we as parents are called to make on behalf of our children.

[Cross-posted at Catholic Dads]

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hanukkah Candles Are the New SUVs

I'm still not entirely convinced this is for real, but apparently it is.

From the Jerusalem Post:

'Green Hanukkia' campaign sparks ire

In a campaign that has spread like wildfire across the Internet, a group of Israeli environmentalists is encouraging Jews around the world to light at least one less candle this Hanukka to help the environment.

The founders of the Green Hanukkia campaign found that every candle that burns completely produces 15 grams of carbon dioxide. If an estimated one million Israeli households light for eight days, they said, it would do significant damage to the atmosphere.

"The campaign calls for Jews around the world to save the last candle and save the planet, so we won't need another miracle," said Liad Ortar, the campaign's cofounder, who runs the Arkada environmental consulting firm and the Ynet Web site's environmental forum. "Global warming is a milestone in human evolution that requires us to rethink how we live our lives, and one of the main paradigms of that is religion and how it fits into the current situation."

Read the whole thing.

HT: Sean Dailey at Blue Boar

Monday, December 3, 2007

Would You Send Jesus a DIS-Invitation to Your Wedding?

I mentioned last week the discussion on contraception taking place on my friend Matt Yonke's blog.

His most recent post on the subject is spot-on, methinks, and it prompted me to recall a down-to-earth analogy that a priest-friend of mine used in a humdinger of a homily he preached on contraception last year. The analogy isn't his originally; it's also been used by Christopher West — and maybe others, too — but I hadn't heard it before:

Now, Natural Family Planning is not Catholic contraception. I repeat, Natural Family Planning is not Catholic contraception. Let me give you an example:

Suppose John and Mary are planning a wedding. They are sending out invitations and wonder if they should send an invitation to their good friend Jesus. Jesus has always been gone on the last 7 days of every month, and their wedding is at the end of the month. John and Mary, knowing Jesus is always gone at the end of the month, send him an invitation anyway because they would like Jesus to be there. This is Natural Family Planning, the invitation is there for God.

But suppose John and Mary like Jesus, but they do not want him at their wedding. Now they know he is going to be gone when the wedding is scheduled, but just to make sure he does not accidentally show up by some fluke, they send him a note saying that under no circumstances is he to come to the wedding. This is artificial contraception; it sends a note saying NO to God.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

On the Radio

I just got a call to be on WJJG-AM 1530 tomorrow morning from 7:00 - 8:00 to discuss matters pro-life.

Should be fun.

***UPDATE: 11/30, 12:55 PM: That was fun. What's more, as a thank-you for being on the show, I got a $100 gift certificate for Le Titi de Paris — a place neither my wife nor I have ever been.

Woo hoo! (Or should I say "Oui, oui!") food.

The show's host, Rob Sherman, is quite an interesting fellow, and on a personal level, I can't help but like the guy.

He's both indefatigably pro-life and indefatigably an atheist. He's in the local news not infrequently, most recently for suing the State of Illinois over its moment-of-silence-in-public-schools-law.

The NFL's Sudden Death Overtime Should Die a Sudden Death

I'm with Steve Chapman, who wrote in today's Chicago Tribune:

Imagine an extra-inning baseball game decided by this sudden-death approach: The visiting team bats in the top of the 10th inning, gets a run and everyone goes home. Imagine a National Basketball Association game in which one team is given the ball at the start of overtime and immediately hits a shot to end the game. Fans would be sputtering with rage and incomprehension.

Other sports think it's not enough to decide a winner -- you have to do it equitably. And whatever else you can say for sudden death, equity has nothing to do with it.

The NFL glories in its unique approach, but in this case unique means "so obviously wrong no one would dream of following suit."

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Dreadfully Misguided Approach to Sexuality

I think I find it as hard to resist online discussions about contraception as Sonny the Cuckoo Bird finds it to resist Cocoa Puffs.

A few days ago my friend and co-worker Matt Yonke posted on his blog simply a few words from Sigmund Freud in which Freud noted that "the abandonment of the reproductive function is the common feature of all perversions".

In the combox, somebody said that quoting Freud on contraception as a way of attempting to show that contraception is bad was "a dead end".

To which I said:

As for Joshua’s comment that “quoting Freud is a dead end”, I’m gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you there.

I’m of the opinion that credit ought to be given where credit is due, and intellectual honesty is worthy of credit. Here, Freud is telling it like it is.

I for one am flummoxed by the attitude taken by many Christians — even many self-styled “conservative Christians” — who have, for all intents and purposes, adopted a just-about-anything-goes-now-that-we’re-married attitude toward sex.

Ironically, perhaps, Freud understood what such as these don’t.


The link above is to an article about one Joe Beam, a Protestant minister whose ostensible raison d'etre is to go around and encourage Christian couples to "have hotter sex".

From the article:

But he [Beam] argues that if the Bible does not forbid it, you can do it. So bring on masturbation. Try any position in the Kama Sutra (but refer to drawings, please, not pictures of real people). Wife away on business? Have phone sex. Birth control is good. Even anal sex is OK if (and Beam believes this is a big if) it does no harm to the body.

Another comboxer asked (out of genuine curiosity) if I objected to Beam's general thesis or just some of his specific recommendations.

To which I said:

I’d say both. I primarily object to his general thesis. It sort of naturally follows that specific recommendations based on said thesis would also be objectionable.

His whole approach to sex is almost hopelessly misguided. One thing we must all remember is that sexual matters — especially in our pornified culture — must be addressed very, very carefully, and prudently. Remember, there’s a reason prudence is regarded as the “charioteer of the virtues”.

One of the (few, it seems) no-nos, according to Beam, is that one must have “no lust for people other than your spouse”. (Of course, one shouldn’t lust after one’s own spouse, either, but that’s a whole other can of worms — which, of course, is addressed in the Theology of the Body.)

And yet, Beam conducts seminars where he talks in great detail about sex positions, oral sex, phone sex, masturbation, etc., etc., etc.

Does he honestly expect that what with such discussion, and with all the couples in the room, and all the hormones and the pheromones flowing therein, that the men in the room (some of them? many of them? dare I say all of them?) are going to be able to resist the gravitational-like pull to lust after at least *one* other woman in their vicinity?

I second Matt’s recommendation of Christopher West’s writings. I’ve not read “ToB Explained”, but I have read some other stuff of his, and I too find it excellent.

In one of his books — I think it was “The Good News about Sex and Marriage”, he pithily explains why it’s absolutely essential for every sexual act within a marriage to be open to procreation.

I’m paraphrasing here, but the gyst of what he said is this:

The one-flesh union is a physical expression of a couple’s marriage commitment. In a very real sense, when a couple engages in one-flesh union, they are renewing their wedding vows, an essential component of which is to accept children lovingly from God (cf. Gen. 1:28, 2:24; Luke 1:38).

Just as it would be wrong for a couple to claim that they can be “faithful” to each other throughout their marriage without each and every sexual act to be with each other, so it is also wrong for a couple to claim that their marriage can be open to the possibility of children without each and every sexual act being so.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sometimes the Best Argument Against Abortion Is an Argument for Abortion

I've often thought that the best thing that could happen to the pro-life movement is for the "pro-choice" movement to get its own 24-hour cable channel.

Just give them a camera, give them a microphone, and let them talk. And talk. And talk some more.

The more they seek to rationalize their beliefs, the more self-evidently repulsive their arguments become.

A few months ago, I started another blog with the aim of cataloging such apologiae, but I've not been tending to it as of late.

This article from the Daily Mail gives me reason to update it again.

It's about a woman who had an abortion in an effort to stave off global warming — because, you know, "[e]very person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population." She then "begged the doctor who performed the abortion to sterilise her at the same time".

James Lileks provides sui generis analysis:

Disaster! She had the awful thing put away, and now she and her husband enjoy hiking and vacations . . . in other countries, accessed via jets. But: “We feel we can have one long-haul flight a year, as we are vegan and childless.” She expresses frustration that other people are unable to accept her decision. I suspect she means “my mum” by “other people,” and I suspect she confuses “acceptance” with “full-throated endorsement."

Of course I accept these people’s decisions not to have children. What am I supposed to do, break into their homes, duct-tape them together into the double-backed beast and play whacka-chicka 70s porn soundtracks until they’re in the mood? But “acceptance” is part of the usual recipe: first we must tolerate, which no decent person should have any problem doing. Then we are asked to accept, which for most means slump-shouldered acquiescence. Eventually it’s not the norm, but it’s standing alongside it on stage, nudging its way into the spotlight.

I’ve said this before: there’s a process with certain steps. Tolerance is required. Then acceptance, which must lead to endorsement, lest people feel marginalized – often by the very people they cant stand, mind you. Endorsement is followed by recognition of the new standard as equal to the old, because all ideas are valid (although some ideas are more valid than others, a judgment that’s determined by the newness of the idea versus the reactionary elements who subscribed to the old idea.) Rhen the new standard must be subsidized, because it is discriminatory not to extend the usual state advantages; then it must be recognized as having superior aspects, in order to empower the marginalized people who believe it. Eventually these advantages will be used as evidence to suggest it’s superior to the old idea in some way that appeals to the intellectual fashion of the day. The process usually takes about 25 years.

But it’s not a new idea. As long as I’ve been alive we’ve heard about people who didn’t want to bring kids into this lousy world, either because the earth was overburdened or the planet was just too effed-up to curse a child with existence and consciousness. I suspect that the new crop is much like the old: misanthropes dressed up in the raiments of altruism.

That said, the idea of having an abortion to stop global warming really is a new wrinkle. What did the character in “Jurassic Park” say? Life will find a way. But an ideology will always find a way around it.

Interesting how Orwell got it completely backwards: he had the Anti-Sex League and ArtSem. Turned out the other way around.

HT: Mark Shea


Square Zero: Babies Are Eating the Planet

How to Address Our In-Laws

I just posted the following on Catholic Dads and figured I might as well post it here too:

A few weeks ago, the Dutchman posted an entry titled "My 'Mister' Problem" in which he opined that teaching our children and their peers to address adults by Mr. and Mrs. is "not a matter of preference, but an attempt to maintain the very fabric of society!"

I'm generally inclined to agree with him on this score, and posted a comment indicating as much.

The Dutchman's post touches closely on another matter that I hadn't thought at the time to mention in the comments section, and it seems to me it's worth its own post — to wit, how to address one's in-laws.

I address my wife's parents as Mom and Dad; ditto my wife for my parents.

I feel very strongly that one should address one's spouse's parents in this way. Yet I don't personally know anyone else who does so. (I should note that my mom and dad addressed each other's parents in this way, but my grandparents are all long since deceased.)

I also don't personally know of anyone who addresses his in-laws by Mr. and Mrs.

Instead, it seems to me that the default setting, if you will, for referring to one's in-laws is by their first names.

This I find loathsome. Presumably, the Dutchman would agree with me. Anyone else? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

I'm very curious to hear the thoughts of others out there in Catholic Dads-Land:

How do you address your in-laws?

Also, on a closely related matter:

How would you prefer (insist?) your future sons/daughters-in-law address you?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In Honor of Tomorrow

...because tomorrow is Thanksgiving and Eucharist means "Thanksgiving":

(HT: The Ironic Catholic via Catholic and Enjoying It!)

Gratias Agamus Domino Deo Nostro

On this Thanksgiving eve, herein are some words from my two favorite writers—G. K. Chesterton and God (although not in that order).

First, a few choice quotations from Chesterton on gratitude:

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.


Psalm 65

To you we owe our hymn of praise, O God on Zion; To you our vows must be fulfilled, you who hear our prayers.

To you all flesh must come with its burden of wicked deeds. We are overcome by our sins; only you can pardon them.

Happy the chosen ones you bring to dwell in your courts. May we be filled with the good things of your house, the blessings of your holy temple!

You answer us with awesome deeds of justice, O God our savior, The hope of all the ends of the earth and of far distant islands.

You are robed in power, you set up the mountains by your might.

You still the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples.

Distant peoples stand in awe of your marvels; east and west you make resound with joy.

You visit the earth and water it, make it abundantly fertile.

God's stream is filled with water; with it you supply the world with grain. Thus do you prepare the earth: you drench plowed furrows, and level their ridges.

With showers you keep the ground soft, blessing its young sprouts.

You adorn the year with your bounty; your paths drip with fruitful rain.

The untilled meadows also drip; the hills are robed with joy.

The pastures are clothed with flocks, the valleys blanketed with grain; they cheer and sing for joy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Yes, Virginia, There Is Abstinence Education (And It Works)

Ruben at No Room for Contraception highlights a new study that demonstrates for the 1258392659812567th time that abstinence education really does work.

But don't hold your breath waiting for the MSM to report about it. (I tried; it wasn't a pretty sight.)

I Like It

I remember once reading an article by Mark Crutcher of Life Dynamics, in which he said -- I forget his exact words, but it was something to the effect of, "It's better to be pro-life and wrong than pro-abortion and wrong."

Going along with this (in my opinion) underused pro-life talking point of, "Let's play devil's advocate and examine the downside of our respective positions," check out this video, titled "Baby in the Box", produced by Inside Catholic (nee Crisis Magazine).

HT: Jill Stanek

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Mother of All Conspiracy Theory Mongering E-mails

I'm not one who goes in for conspiracy theories.

I must admit, however, that I have what could perhaps only be considered a bizarre fascination with those who do. (This might explain why I used to be a huge X-Files fan and why, whenever I happen upon Art Bell's show, it's all I can do to tear myself away from the radio.)

I've never engaged in any formal study (or, for that matter, even any informal study) of the psychology of those who trade in conspiracy theories, but if I had the time, I'd love to delve into what makes such folks tick and to find out what the heck makes them believe — yea, be fanatically devoted to — such uber-kooky ideas.

A few weeks a conspiracy theory mongering e-mail made its way into my inbox at work. We get such e-mails from time to time, but the breadth of this one in particular I found simply astonishing—Jews, blacks, the Chinese, Skull and bones, the mark of the beast—it had everything and more.

See for yourself:

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Wednesday, October 24, 2007 4:53 PM
Subject: OCTOBER SURPRISE! The Clinton Blood Scandal is Breaking...

October Surprise!

The Forth Way and The Forth Wave

This is the much anticipated October Surprise for the election of 2008. But it's 12 months early. That's the surprise!

The Clintons and the "Mainstream Media" have been hiding their involvement in the creation of the man-made pandemic called AIDS and that this dread disease serves Jewish interests. And they have hidden the truth that they exported poison blood from an Arkansas prison for injection into the arms of black school children in Africa, to fulfill China's Africa Policy: exterminate the indigineous population to make room for wave upon wave of Chinese immigrants yet to come.

Once China occupies Africa, they will seize control of the Mediterranean Sea and choke off America's primary source of energy. This is the reason the Jews (disguised as environmentalists) have not allowed America to drill domestically for oil or build nuclear power plants for decades. And once China controls the Mediterranean Sea, they can turn the continent of Europe red with communism and the blood of Christians, and finally fulfill the Jew's eternal goal: to plant the head of the Pope on a pole in Vatican City in sight of the Holy See.

Download the October Surprise (MP3)

Or read the following script below of the 7 minute MP3 file:

Script for October Surprise.MP3 : track #1 of The Forth Wave

This is the Forth Wave, the kickoff for my book, the Forth Way, and if you listen you’ll feel an atomic explosion of truth, the likes of which the world has never felt.

You’ll learn about why Bill Clinton is actually Gefiltefish in Blackface. Why John McCain will come to be known as Jewface John. And why The Oprah earned the name Mama O. That’s short for Mama Obama because she’s the political birth mother of Obama sin Laden.

What’s Obama’s sin? He’s a black man in the party of Black Slavery. He succumbed to the Yamaka’s of Bill and Hillary Clinton and looked the other way as Bill Clinton literally gave birth to the AIDS pandemic from a bio-weapons lab in an Arkansas prison, exporting the HIV blood to Africa, with the help of Halliburton, for injection into the arms of young black school children. In fulfillment of China’s Africa Policy, the Third Way took direct action to eliminate the indigenous population of Africa to make room for the hundreds of millions of Chinese immigrants yet to come. And in addition to leaving the Microsoft monopoly unbroken, Clinton also built the pathway for Bill Gates (a Jew) to spend $25 billion on Forced African Circumcisions, an ancient Jewish ritual with a modern day blood virus as an incentive.

I show how almost every candidate for president wears the mark of the beast and is part of a conspiracy to destroy America that began thousands of years ago in a place half a world away. I show that all political parties, including Independents, report to the same Jews. Our One Party System is made up of The Democrats, still the Party of Black Slavery. And the Republicans, the Party of the Neo-Coms, short for Neo-Communists.

I reveal that 911 was a Jewish plot with an Israeli agent on flight 11, with a gun, named as the ringleader by the flight attendant, Betty Ong. Preparation involved many governments including Israel, China and the U.S. government. It involved both Bushes, who took an oath to the Third Way at Yale at the so called Morgue of Skull and Bones.

I show that the rise in Radical Islam is a creation of the Third Way, and that 911 was designed to push America into World War III, when Christians will be murdered wholesale in the American heartland, just as you will learn happened in World War I and World War II in the old country.

Historians, hold onto your helmets because the Forth Way is an atomic explosion of truth about our history as a nation. I expose the Jewish interests in World War I, World War II and even the Civil War. Read how the Civil War was Jew in the North waging total war with the Gentile of the South, in blatant violation of the Constitution. To form the Jew controlled government which helped bring down the World Trade Center Towers, in fulfillment of Thomas Jefferson’s worst fears. And if you listen carefully, you may just hear the sound of the South finally Rising again, as promised. Everything you know about the Civil War is a lie. Everything you know about Abraham Lincoln was created by what’s come to be known as the Lincoln Cult. Including that he waged the Civil War to end slavery.

I reveal, shockingly, that Mormonism is actually Judaism. Just ask Mitt Romney to the Armageddon raining down from the sky in Chapter 911 from the Book of Mormon. And ask about the genocide Mormons committed against Christians on September 11th, 1857.

I talk about many event from the 20th century. Like, LBJ was secretly a Jew. And that he murdered John F. Kennedy, a gentile, with the help in part of Jack Ruby, who’s given name was Jacob Rubenstein. Also, Abraham Zapruder, a Jew who was planted exactly where this made for Hollywood murder was staged to take place.
- Munich 1972 was the scene of one of the many False Flags used by the Israeli’s to show the Jews as victims. An Arab-Jew, Abu Nidal, kidnapped 22 Israeli athletes, working for Israel’s Mossad.
- George Bush smuggled narcotics with Barry Seal, under the watchful eye of his father, former director of the CIA, H.W. Bush
- The illegal narcotics industry is controlled by Jewish interests and managed by Freemasonry, and is headquartered in Little Tel Aviv (formerly known as Boca Raton, Florida)

The Big Three were more aptly named, the Jew Iron Triangle. Stalin’s genocide happened because Roosevelt (a.k.a. Rosenfelt) and Churhill were both Jews, and he was murdering Christians, like good Jews are expected to do.

The perpetrators of the Armenian Holocaust, the Judeo-Turks, have prospered well in America, and are counting the months until World War Three will finally obscure the murder of Christians on a far greater scale, right here in your very own back yard.

Rush Limbaugh, (a Jew) Captain of Team Konservative Patriot, conservative with a K, isn’t as diametrically opposed to Hillary as you thought. They are both Jews doing their part to usher in the Secret Jewish War Against Humanity. This secret Jewish labyrinth is here named Jew Chain Mail and the Sixth Column, and shown that it’s waging a Secret Jewish War Against all of Humanity.

Jugo Chavez and his Oil for Bullets program, is the Venezuelan Jumping Bean, and was Yamaked by Bill Clinton. Another of Clinton’s subjects, Juval Patrick, earns the name “Gefiltefish in Blackface”, like his mentor. Juval abides by the theory that the laws are not for Jews. And Juval looked the other way, or even helped, as the Clintons shipped poison blood to Africa, resulting in 100 million Africans that are dead or dying of AIDS.

Absolute proof is revealed in the Forth Way that Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43 each lied while being sworn in as president. Their secret oaths at Yale were demonstrably more important than the ones said at their inaugurations, but are now shown each to have been harboring plans at that very moment. So, the big news is we have no president now and have had none since January 20th, 1989, when Bush 41 was thought to have been inaugurated president.

Time to roll up your sleeves! We’ve all got lots of work to do!
Robert J. Antonellis

I've seen some vvvveeeeerrrrrrryyyyyy strange conspiracy theory mongering e-mails in my day, but this one takes the biscuit.

It now rightfully occupies a place in a folder I've simply labeled "Weird".

[Note: There were a number of links in the original e-mail, all of which were to subdomains (is that the right word?) at, but none of the pages displays.]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mr. and Mrs.

Over at Catholic Dads, The Dutchman has a post with which I can readily relate. Titled "My 'Mister' Problem", it begins thusly:

I was raised to call adults “Mister —” and never to call them by their first names. (This rule was so strictly enforced that, even though I am 47 years old, I still call a man I met as a child “Mister Roeser” and probably always will!) I have maintained this practice, insisting that children address me as “Mister Schultz” and that my children address adults the same way. My wife claims that I am being “inconsistent.” She says that I must chose from between two “consistent” positions...

Read the rest here.

My $.02:

I too was raised to call adults Mr. and Mrs., and I am forever grateful to my parents for having done so.

However, this was a normative thing, as there were a (very) small number of adults—specifically, friends of the family—I knew who wanted to be called by their first names, in which case my parents didn't mind that I did so.

As for other children addressing me by my first name, I'm not a fan at all, but I'm not so sure there's a one-size-fits-all approach to, if you will, "enforcing" my preference.

In some cases, some friends of mine have referred to me as "John" in the presence of their (very young) child, and I've said to the child with a smile—and with what I hope is not the slightest bit of nose-in-the-air style sarcasm—"But you can call me Mr. Jansen". This, I've found, usually seems to get the point across to child and parent alike.

My wife and I both agree strongly that our children should not address adults by their first names only. Our kids call many of our friends Mr. and Mrs., but for those who really don't like to be called Mr. and Mrs., we ask them if it's OK to have our kids call them, say, Aunt or Uncle [First Name], or Mr. or Miss [First Name].

We've yet to meet an adult who has objected to this.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Rest Is Just Details

Today's meditation in Magnificat was written by the late Father Karl Adam.

It begins:

The structure of Catholic faith may be summarized in a single sentence: I find God, through Christ, in his Church.

Pithy is always good.

Men and Abortion

A couple years ago, I was invited to give a talk on abortion at an all boys' school. For this talk, I was asked to include some material on the effects of abortion on men. I had somewhat of a hard time preparing for it, as there simply hasn't been a lot of research done in this area.

The National Organization for Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing (NOPARH) is hoping to change that. Later this month in San Francisco, they're sponsoring the Reclaiming Fatherhood conference to examine the often overlooked effects of abortion on men.

More information and online registration are available here.

NOPARH was founded by Vicki Thorn, who gave an excellent talk at our TeenSpeak conference earlier this year. She is one of the most knowledgeable, compassionate, and down to earth people I've ever met in the pro-life movement. I'm sure that this conference she and her staff are her organizing will be first-rate.

Regrettably, family obligations, work obligations, and finances won't allow me to attend. But if you, dear reader, have the means, get thee to it.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Myths about Porn

One morning a few months ago, I opened the living room shades, and on the sidewalk directly in front of Haus Jansen, I saw this:

That's unusual, I thought, but kinda cool. What a way to remind people of the reality of sin in the world!

Later, after a walk around the neighborhood, I saw similar "N" and "S" markings on other portions of sidewalks, curbs, and streets, and realized that what was written on the sidewalk in front of Haus Jansen was not actually the word "sin"—well, it was, of course, but it wasn't intended as such—rather, it was intended as some sort of "north/south" marking (apparently these were made by the gas company, as they've been doing a lot of work in the area lately):

Anywho, I wanted a picture to accompany this post, and I figured this one...

...would do nicely.

I borrowed stole the self-explanatory text that follows from the Dutchman at FestungArnulfinger, so one great big tip o' the hat to him:

Nine Myths about Pornography

(by one angry girl designs)

Myth 1: Women who become strippers and hookers choose these careers, so who are we to judge them?

Myth 2: Strippers and porn stars lead glamorous lives, and men have nothing but respect for them.

Myth 3: Porn is an outlet or safety valve for men who might otherwise do Bad Things.

Myth 4: Men like variety in women so porn use helps a man stay faithful to his woman.

Myth 5: Porn is harmless and has no effect on the person using it.

Myth 6: Women who work in porn are empowered, because they get to call the shots.

Myth 7: Porn is for men who sincerely appreciate the beauty of the female body.

Myth 8: Everyone knows porn is just a fantasy, so no one would try to apply it to real life.

Myth 9: Porn enhances relationships.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Say It Ain't So

Baseball general managers recommend that instant replay be used

Call me a neo-Luddite curmudgeon if you must, but I'm of the opinion that using instant replay in sports is among the Most Boneheaded Decisions Ever Made.

(Other such decisions in this category include, but are not limited to: Adam and Eve's decision to eat the apple; Coke executives' decision to introduce New Coke; Pepsi executives' decision to introduce Crystal Pepsi; the decision made by whoever it was who invented light beer to invent light beer; Steven Bochco's decision to produce Cop Rock; and the Weimar Republic's decision to let Hitler take over.)

Don't drink the Kool-Aid, Bud. Stick to your guns.

Monday, November 5, 2007

"Introibo ad Altare Dei..."

Berwyn, Illinois, the working-class Chicago suburb that has been home to Haus Jansen for the past two and a half years, is probably best known as being the home to an alleged piece of art called The Spindle:

Happily, as of tomorrow night, our corrupt fair city will have another claim to fame: It will once again be home to a Catholic church that offers the Tridentine Mass!

Father Tony Brankin, the pastor of St. Odilo Parish—which is located just a few blocks from Haus Jansen—will be offering the Tridentine Mass at 7:00pm on each of the next three Tuesdays (6, 13, and 20 November).

For those of you unfamiliar with the Chicago Catholic scene, Father Brankin enjoys a well-deserved reputation among local orthodox Catholics. He's down to earth, brilliant, and holy. He's also a real Renaissance man. Musically talented, he plays the harp, the fiddle, the accordion, and he's also an accomplished sculptor. (I recall hearing recently that he has been commissioned by St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke to create a sculpture of the Holy Family.)

As I wrote several months ago, at the Mass when he was installed as pastor earlier this year, he didn't pull any punches. In the homily, he said:

I will preach on behalf of families and against things that hurt families like contraception. I will preach for life and against abortion—and against any Culture of Death politicians who support abortion.

There will be no "Well we don't really believe in that anymore" from me.

I am not smart enough to start my own religion—so I will follow Christ's—His revelation about what we must believe and do to be saved.

I will try to remember what I told a young priest once who asked me if I had one single thing I could tell him that would help him in his priesthood—and I was taken aback and responded, "Jim, just try to remember that things are a lot simpler than we often make of them—it's about God's grace and saving souls."

As I've said before, although I've only attended a handful of Tridentine Masses in my lifetime, and although I have exactly no sympathy for those insist on the abolition of the Novus Ordo, I'd definitely say I'm a fan of the Tridentine Mass.

Needless to say, perhaps, our family is planning to attend all three Tridentine Masses at St. Odilo this month.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All Hallows Eve

There are some who argue that it's imprudent, perhaps even wrong, to celebrate Halloween.

To such as these I say: Pish posh.

I haven't the time to write an eloquent defense — or, for that matter, even an ineloquent defense — of the thoroughly Catholic celebration of Halloween, but I don't have to.

Sean Dailey, Mark Shea, and Rod Bennett already have.

What I will include, though, is a picture of our pamilya at a Halloween party on Saturday night, at which, I am proud to say, we won the prize for the "Best Group Costume":

All six of us were characters from the Hundred Acre Wood: Teresa was Rabbit, Cecilia was Winnie the Pooh, Lucy was Tigger, Jocelyn was Kanga, Joey was Roo (who, as a baby kangaroo, is a joey—how cool is it that his costume was his name?), and I was Christopher Robin.

Peter Singer: "Sure to Be a Festival Highlight"!

Peter Singer will be speaking tomorrow night in Chicago at Northwestern University's Law School as part of the 18th Annual Chicago Humanities Festival.

Yes, that Peter Singer — Peter "Killing a defective infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Sometimes it is not wrong at all" Singer.

From the Festival's website:

306: Richard J. Franke Lecture: Peter Singer

One of the Festival’s most prominent lectureships this year will feature a talk by this brilliant and thought-provoking, if often controversial, Australian philosopher and ethicist, currently professor of bioethics at Princeton University. Singer, who has challenged conventional views on a host of ethical issues ranging from animal liberation to abortion to euthanasia to eating locally grown foods, now turns to the ethical dimensions of climate change. The fate of billions of people, for example, depends on whether the states that emit the most greenhouse gas emissions can agree on which nations should do the most to reduce them. In light of differences already expressed between the U.S. administration and the governments of China and India, this question is likely to be at the center of international diplomacy in coming years. Singer argues that, were climate change to be seen as an essentially ethical crisis, it would not be all that difficult to elaborate broad principles that could serve as a basis for reaching a fair outcome. But how do we get there? Singer’s talk is sure to be a Festival highlight.

In other words:

  • Emitting greenhouse gases: Bad. Horribly bad. Unmistakably bad. Absolutely, positively bad.

  • Killing handicapped babies: Not so bad. Maybe not even bad at all.



Here's an interesting take on Peter Singer by fellow Princeton professor Robert George, writing last year in First Things, titled "I Was Wrong about Peter Singer".

Monday, October 29, 2007

How Medieval of Her

I'd never before seen anyone holding a dog whilst presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion.

Until last week, that is.

One morning last week at Mass at our neighborhood parish, I had to do a double take when I saw a woman walking up to receive Communion, holding in her arms what appeared to be either a cocker spaniel or a poodle. While it made no noise, I can verify that it was not simply a stuffed animal that I mistook for a live dog; this was the real McCoy.

At the end of Mass, the woman appeared to be leading the dog out the back door of the church on a leash.

Why did this woman bring her dog to Mass? God only knows.

What I do know, though, is that this episode prompted me to recall a comment made by Sandra Miesel on this post on Catholic and Enjoying It! some time ago:

Medieval people took their hawks and hounds to Mass and Byzantine harlots turned tricks in the galleries of the old Hagia Sophia while the Liturgy was in progress.

To which another commenter said:

Next time I see someone with his hawk at church I'm going to say, "how medieval of you," and I'll mean it as a compliment!

Hence the title of this post.

[Cross-posted at Catholic Dads]

Huge Pro-Life Turnout in Aurora AGAIN

After our rally on August 25 that brought out over 1,200 people to the Aurora Planned Parenthood site, Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area CEO Steve Trombley tried to downplay the numbers, saying this was a one-time thing:
Most people spend their Saturdays taking their kids to the soccer game, doing things around the house, and I think as time moves on, people will go back to their normal lives.

As I said at the time, what Trombley apparently doesn’t realize is that fighting abortion is something we do as part of our “normal lives”.

We're. Not. Going. Away.

That's why we held another big rally in Aurora on Saturday.


Roger of Fox Valley Families Against Planned Parenthood has a great post about the rally — appropriately titled, "Looks Like We're Not Going Away" — with lots of pictures and links to many more.

Check it out!

See also the WGN News video coverage of the rally here.


Marcel of Mary's Aggies wrote to us this morning about a new post on their blog exposing the major problems with a recent Planned Parenthood report in which:
researchers concluded that in order to achieve more "safe abortions", governmental policies should continue to be loosened to provide access to them.

Marcel also posted on this subject last week.

[Cross-posted at Generations for Life]

Friday, October 26, 2007

"Safer Sex"? Safer Than What?

Earlier this week Jill Stanek wrote:

[Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh] requires that first year students complete some form of community service throughout the year, and on Saturday's Day of Service, the Planned Parenthood of Western PA abortion mill in Pittsburgh was one of 14 options RMU offered. RMU representative Kyle Fisher told me this was PP's 2nd year on the list.

10 students chose PP to volunteer to assemble "safer sex kits." Five calls to various PA PP's yielded ignorant staffers who had no idea what was in those kits. Nor did Ms. Fisher.

But I found perusing the web the kits contain a male condom, female condom, flavored lubricant, latex glove, dental dam, and finger cot....

The term "safe sex" "safer sex", of course, prompts the question:

Safer than what?

Interesting, isn't it, that there are millions of sexually active people out there who have exactly no chance of ever contracting an STD, and the thought of using condoms, dental dams, and finger cots would never, ever, ever cross their minds.

They're married people who practice marital chastity.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse was onto something when she titled a recent book Smart Sex, which, she explains, can only occur within marriage and when it is open to the possibility of conceiving a baby.

Too bad the meme hasn't caught on; seems to me it's a good counter to the loathsome term "safer sex".

Where the Run for the Roses is Run

Last weekend, all six inhabitants of Haus Jansen packed in the minivan and headed to Louisville, KY for a college friend's wedding.

The wedding itself was beautiful, and it was great to see some folks we hadn't seen since graduation (in 2000).

We also had the chance to visit Churchill Downs for the first time, as that's where the reception was held—to be specific, in a section of the facility known as Millionaires Row. (Although considering the fact that we were there, it's apparently open to non-millionaires, too.)

Being six floors up, it offered a stellar view of the infield and the area surrounding the track, which you can somewhat make out in this picture of our pamilya here:

Here's another one from ground level, outside the track:

My one regret about the experience: I think the bar was just serving beer and wine, as I didn't see any liquor bottles, but at the very least, it couldn't have hurt to ask for a mint julep, but I forgot to do so.

Ah well; there's always next time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"The Death of the Soul in the Reign of Pro-Choice"

Via Mark Shea, yesterday I came across a tour de force of pro-life apologetics—one of the most cogent, articulate, and comprehensive I've seen in recent memory—on the blog FideCogitActio. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

One complaint, however: The post—and apparently the entire blog—has black bars over all of the links therein, such that one cannot actually see the text of said links until one places one's cursor on said black bars. One commenter pointed this out, thinking it was a problem with his browser (the poor soul was using Internet Explorer (shiver); apparently no one's ever told him about Firefox), but then the post's author, the Cogitator, said the black bars are part of his "CIA fetish".

De gustibus, I guess.

The annoying black bars notwithstanding, it's one heckuva series of smackdowns of vacuous pro-abortion arguments.

And now for something (not) completely different

When I arrived last week at St. Peter's Parish in Geneva, IL for the talk I was to give that evening (which was very well received, I'm quite pleased to say), I was really impressed to see the sobering pro-life display on the front lawn of the church consisting of 3,560 white crosses—one for every baby killed every day here in the United States:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hate Mail

I wrote recently on the Generations for Life blog about the hate mail we get on a regular basis at Pro-Life Action League/Generations for Life/Families Against Planned Parenthood.

As you might guess, with all the attention recently surrounding the fight against the Abortion Fortress of Aurora, we’ve been seeing far more hate mail—which is almost always sent anonymously—than usual.

Like this:

[Message from You Suck A** (]

you people are f***ing losers and should burn in hell for harrassing women

You Suck A**


[Message from PRO LIFERS ARE A JOKE!!! (f***you@lickmya**.com)]

you should be ashamed of yourselfs lying to the masses about abortion and pregnancy and getting youth involved if you hated abortion so much you;d be handing out condoms not lies !!!! i hope there is a hell so you all can burn in it! god does not promote hate and lies. you are using his name in vain. get real jobs you losers!!!



I hope your own 12 year old daughter gets raped and pregnant so that then you can deal with this situation from a reality perspective.

Now, the temptation we feel is to respond to hatred with hatred of our own. And it's hard to imagine anything more vile than telling someone you hope their 12-year old daughter gets raped.

But, as I recently said in a comment on a post on the Generations for Life blog, we as pro-lifers must resist this temptation. We can't stoop to the level of hating anyone. Period.

Bryan Kemper of Stand True illustrated this point brilliantly in a recent commentary titled "Loving compassionate pro-life vs. Angry anti-abortion".

It begins:

The title of this commentary should seem like a no-brainer for Christians. It is so clear from scripture that we must love our enemies and have compassion on others. While we must take a stand against evil and share the truth, it has to be done in love.

Read the whole thing.

Speaking of anonymous messages, over the weekend an anonymous comment was posted on my Trotting Out the Same Tired Old Talking Points post from a couple of weeks ago, in which I wrote:

Ah, yes, because everybody knows that making contraception more widely available is the answer to preventing abortion, right?


Mmmm...not so much.

The anonymous commenter said: does

First, although I allow them, under normal circumstances I find the practice of posting anonymous comments really, really annoying—and not a little dastardly. At the very least, sign a pseudonym at the end of your comment. Sheesh.

The link pointed out by the anonymous commenter is a news release from the Alan Guttmacher Institute (the research arm of the Wal-Mart of the Abortion Industry) trumpeting the already infamous "compilation of estimates based on estimates", which pro-life bloggers had begun to vet as soon as it was released two weeks ago. (See more hole-poking of the study here.)

Those who believe in the Creed of Contraception and the Sacrament of Abortion can kick and scream and yell and shout all they want about how the former helps prevent the latter, but in the grand scheme of things, it, um, doesn't. Quite the contrary, in fact.

Recently, I responded thusly to an e-mail that came to the Pro-Life Action League from someone asking about failure rates for the Pill:

Statisticians who assess the effectiveness of contraceptives use the term "perfect use" to describe the ideal conditions under which the lowest possible pregnancy rates can be achieved. For the pill, with "perfect use", the pregnancy rate is, as your doctor said, around 1%.

However, the term "perfect use" is, for all practical purposes, useless. It's merely a theoretical concept that offers a false sense of security. How often does "perfect use" occur? Rarely? Ever?

On the other hand, "typical use" is a much more accurate gauge of a given contraceptive's failure rate. Even the Alan Guttmacher Institute—the research arm of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the U. S., and one of the largest providers of contraceptives as well—acknowledges with "typical use", the pill has an 8% failure rate.

This statistic also appears on the same page from the AGI's website:

"Fifty-four percent of U.S. women who had an abortion in 2000 were using a method [of contraception] in the month they became pregnant."

They then say that this doesn't mean that contraceptives fail 54% of the time, and then say that these women apparently didn't use their contraceptives "perfectly".

Of course they didn't use them perfectly, because in all likelihood, no one uses them perfectly.