Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Drinking Beer Is Wrong"

So declares this press release about the results of some poll by some website called ChristiaNet, which claims to be the "the world's largest Christian portal".

It's times like these that I'm really, really glad the Church isn't a democracy.

Viva the Magisterium!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

When Everyone In the Room Tells You You're Drunk, It's Time to Sit Down

So FOX and CBS have refused to run Trojan's new ad in which "women at a bar [are] surrounded by pigs. When one pig goes to the restroom and returns with a condom purchased at a vending machine, he is transformed into an attractive man. The end of the commercial carries the message: 'Evolve: Use a condom every time.'" [source]

See for yourself:

Dr. Vanessa Cullins, Planned Parenthood's vice president of medical affairs, is beside herself:

As the nation's leading reproductive health care advocate and provider, Planned Parenthood knows that for sexually active people, condoms are the best way to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections [emphasis added].

"...the best way..."




I guess that would explain the dramatic fall in the unintended pregnancy rate and the equally dramatic fall in the spread of STDs we've seen now that The Almighty Condom is ubiquitously promoted, right?

But I digress...

Jill Stanek doesn't buy FOX/CBS's reasons for rejecting the ads, and thinks there's an easier explanation:

The ad is simply in poor taste. A man exploiting a woman in a bar to be his unpaid hooker is a pig with or without a condom in his pocket.

You know it's bad when your ad is in such poor taste that it gets rejected by two networks that, like just about every other network, line their pockets by peddling poor taste.

I can't help but recall the scene in This Is Spinal Tap when the band members express their sincere incredulity that the record company wouldn't go for their proposed album cover for Smell the Glove featuring "a greased, naked woman on all fours with a dog collar around her neck and a leash ... and a man's arm holding on to the leash extended out to her shoving a black glove in her face to sniff it."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Breastfeeding and Jury Duty

Last week, my beloved wife Jocelyn got a notice in the mail with what are perhaps -- when juxtaposed -- the two most dreaded words in the English language:


No problem, I thought: Surely a nursing mother of a two-month old baby can't be made to serve jury duty.

Imagine my surprise, then, after learning -- assuming the information I found is accurate -- that only five U. S. states currently have laws exempting nursing mothers from jury duty.

And, as luck would have it, Illinois isn't one of them.

I thought to myself: What kind of soviet are we living in?

Apparently, there is currently a nursing mothers exemption law "pending" here in the Land of Lincoln, but given the Ent-like speed with which pending legislation becomes actual legislation, the 17-year cicadas might be back again before we see a law on the books.

We had already had a doctor's appointment scheduled for our newborn this past Saturday, so Jocelyn asked our doctor what she should do. He made some comment that it's "ridiculous" to expect a nursing mother to serve jury duty, and gave her a note -- which, per the cliché about doctors and handwriting, neither of us can manage to decipher! -- to pass on to the powers-that-be excusing her from serving.

All that said, my guess -- and it is only a guess; mind you, I have exactly no legal training -- is this:

Even if a state doesn't have a law exempting nursing mothers from jury duty, it's extremely unlikely that a nursing mother -- even if she did not have a letter from her doctor -- would, in actuality, be compelled to be separated from her child and report for jury duty.

In other words, my guess is that even if a state doesn't have such an exemption law, the courts in said state aren't likely to bother going through the hassle of compelling a nursing mother to serve.

I'll admit I'm very much shooting from the hip here, so if I'm all wet on this, please feel free to enlighten me.

(Cross-posted at Catholic Dads)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

You Gotta Love the Things Three-Year Olds Say

No one can deny that three-year olds are cute. Not only are they physically cute, but so too, the things they say are cute.

After Mass this past Sunday at our church, our daughter Cecilia...

looked at this statue of St. Francis...

...and she asked:

"Is that St. Skull?"

Brought a big smile to my face, she did. And henceforth I shall always call to mind this preciously innocent misnomer whenever I behold an image of Assisi's favorite hometown hero.

This episode also prompted me to recall my favorite Chesterton essay, A Defence of Baby Worship:

The fascination of children lies in this: that with each of them all things are remade, and the universe is put again upon its trial. As we walk the streets and see below us those delightful bulbous heads, three times too big for the body, which mark these human mushrooms, we ought always primarily to remember that within every one of these heads there is a new universe, as new as it was on the seventh day of creation. In each of those orbs there is a new system of stars, new grass, new cities, a new sea...

The essential rectitude of our view of children lies in the fact that we feel them and their ways to be supernatural while, for some mysterious reason, we do not feel ourselves or our own ways to be supernatural. The very smallness of children makes it possible to regard them as marvels; we seem to be dealing with a new race, only to be seen through a microscope. I doubt if anyone of any tenderness or imagination can see the hand of a child and not be a little frightened of it. It is awful to think of the essential human energy moving so tiny a thing; it is like imagining that human nature could live in the wing of a butterfly or the leaf of a tree. When we look upon lives so human and yet so small, we feel as if we ourselves were enlarged to an embarrassing bigness of stature. We feel the same kind of obligation to these creatures that a deity might feel if he had created something that he could not understand.

But the humorous look of children is perhaps the most endearing of all the bonds that hold the Cosmos together. Their top-heavy dignity is more touching than any humility; their solemnity gives us more hope for all things than a thousand carnivals of optimism; their large and lustrous eyes seem to hold all the stars in their astonishment; their fascinating absence of nose seems to give to us the most perfect hint of the humour that awaits us in the kingdom of heaven.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Fatherhood, Time, and Sacrifice

A few days ago, one of my co-workers recommended I read Catholics and Contraception.

I said something to the effect of, "It sounds interesting," but in my mind I thought, "When would I have time?"

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 to read.

(On my own, that is. Of course, I now have ample opportunity to share the wondrous literary creations of Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry, Tomie de Paola, et al., with our little ones.)

By necessity, then, I have less time for myself, since I have to give more of it to them.

Each year when Father's Day rolls around, I feel a need to reflect upon my own fatherhood, which, like every other good thing, is a a gift from God the Father.

Fatherhood could be described as the sum total of a man's responsibilities toward his children. Thus, the standard I most often use to assess how well I'm doing as a dad is, "How am I spending my time? Am I living for myself, or for my family?"

Around Christmastime 1999, during my senior year of college, I had dinner with a young priest I had met through some mutual friends. He broached the subject of the priesthood with me (and I'm very glad he did, as I tend to think priests could do that sort of thing more often when talking with young men), saying something to the effect of, "You'd make a good priest."

I replied that I had given some thought to the priesthood, but I had recently started dating Jocelyn, and I felt that it was my vocation to marry.

The priest, in turn, said something very wise: Whatever vocation you choose, he said, you should feel that you're giving up something.

He then went on to say that when he meets prospective seminarians who say they would never want to be married or have children, that's a cause for concern. How much would they really be giving up by becoming a priest?

This priest's counsel really gets at the nature of vocation. We ought not choose to live our lives the way we ourselves would want to live them, but rather we should choose to live our lives in accord with the way God wants us to live them -- which always, always involves sacrifice on our part.

Some of the prophets -- Moses, Jeremiah, and Jonah in particular -- were rather reluctant at first. They hemmed and hawed when God told them what He wanted them to do. Wisely, however, they reconsidered.

Consider also these words from Our Lord:

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" The disciples were amazed at his words. So Jesus again said to them in reply, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through (the) eye of (a) needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God."

Peter began to say to him, "We have given up everything and followed you." Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. (Mark 10:23-30)

I'm the type of guy who loves to spend time by himself -- whether it be spent reading, running, biking, or whatever. A big part of me would love to be able to have more time to do these sorts of things, but given life's current circumstances, it's simply not there. Apparently, God has other plans.

Being a husband and a dad, having large amounts of time to myself -- that I would otherwise have enjoyed -- is a major part of what I have chosen to given up.

The more time I spend with our kids, however, the more I realize it's a good thing thing I have given that up.

Monday, June 11, 2007

You Can't Have It Both Ways

I'm thrilled to see that the press release: "Sex Ed Fundraiser to Feature Stripper" we issued last week has been picked up by a bunch of different sites.

Democratic Underground was one such site, and included this gem of a comment:

Folks, I REALLY have to know the answer to this one.

Have any of these so-called Christian Right people (who are not right, and don't really seem to be Christian either) ever had sex?

Well, let's see... All of my co-workers have children. One has one, one has two, two have seven, and one has eight.

And my wife and I have four.

You figure it out.

What makes a question like this one all the more boneheaded is that those of us who prefer not to goosesteppingly subscribe to the notion that Procreation Is Something To Be Avoided At All Costs are so often accused of being irresponsible because we actually enjoy having large numbers of kids.

Consider some of the, um, clarifying comments in response to this article -- originally published in The Nation (and which also mentions in passing that our "Contraception Is Not the Answer" conference last fall served "as a sort of coming-out party for the anticontraception movement" - what a compliment!):

What pisses me off is that I have to subsidize the breeding of little fanatics for the Holy War these people are planning. Credits, exemptions, dependents, property taxes...The list keeps growing.

If they keep clogging up the tax codes with kid-friendly stuff, we'll all have to have 50 kids, just so we can keep some of our paycheck.


This movement is frightening. To top it off, they home-school their litters. Just perfect. Another way to dumb down an already diminished populations intelligence.

It's definitely a race issue, as well. If it weren't, they'd adopt all the children already here who need parents. Oops, most of those are minority or mixed race. Only Aryans qualify.

These people disgust me.


The behaviour of these parents can be summed up in one word - and this is supported by most of the comments in the posts above. They are 'IRRESPONSIBLE'.

Anybody who brings into the world a child whom they cannot properly support - materially, spiritually and psychologically - cannot be described in any other way.

Sir Julian Huxley was right when he said that we cannot hide in the arms of an inscrutable God; yet that is exactly what these parents are claiming they can do.

And this one, which once again proves Godwin's Law:

This sounds much like the rhetoric used by the Nazis to promote their Aryan ideal. Women were encouraged to propagate to produce the Aryan warrior to take over the world.

Frightening stuff.

We're running out of land, fuel, etc. There are too many people on this planet already. It's selfish to have so many children.

The haters need to get their stories straight, 'cause they can't have it both ways. Either we "so-called Christian Right people" -- whatever that means -- never have sex, or we have too much non-contraceptive sex.

Which is it?

Monday, June 4, 2007

Our Son Is a Pagan Baby No Longer!

Any day is a fitting day for a baby to be baptized, but some days seem even more fitting than others.

Case in point: yesterday - Trinity Sunday. On this day, our firstborn son, Jose, received this first of the sacraments of initiation. He was baptized at St. John Cantius Parish in Chicago, where we have been parishioners since last year.

Father Dennis Kolinski, SSJC, one of associate pastors, celebrated the rite beautifully. Jocelyn and I, along with the rest of our family, were particularly impressed with how Father Dennis explained the history and significance behind each of the various parts of the baptismal rite, and how he impressed upon us the seriousness of the duty we were undertaking by having our son baptized.

Toward the conclusion of the rite -- after the baptism itself -- the minister beseeches God to bless in a particular way first the mother, and then the father, in their efforts to bring up their child in accordance with the Church's teachings. Prior to praying the father's blessing, Father Dennis reminded all those present -- and most of all, me -- that "we live in a world that hates Christ and the Church", and whether a child remains loyal to the Faith depends to a great extent on his father's example.

Well said, Father. Well said.

Prior to the baptism, we also attended the Tridentine Mass at St. John's, which is celebrated, per Ecclesia Dei, with the approval of the local ordinary, Francis Cardinal George.

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 am definitely a fan of the Tridentine Mass.

Yesterday's Mass was one of the most beautiful Masses I can ever recall attending. (No doubt, this was due in large part to the music: Father Scott Haynes, SSJC -- the recently ordained priest with whom we had made arrangements for Joe's baptism -- directed the choir at yesterday's Mass. This is entirely fitting, since he is the one who composed the music for it!)

All in all, it was a great day. Enjoy this partial photographic record thereof:

(Also in this last picture are our three daughters -- from left to right, Lucia, Cecilia, and Teresa -- and Joe's godparents, Annie and Robert Casselman and their daughter, Hannah.)