Friday, September 28, 2007

On Breastfeeding in Public

Taking a cue from CourageMan, today I begin what may (or may not, I suppose) become a regular feature on Lunch Break: posting entries that originally were comments of mine on (in?) other blogs' comboxes.

Yesterday at Catholic Dads, Matthew from Play the Dad? No, Be the Dad! posted an entry on breastfeeding in public titled "Obscene? Indecent? Scandalous? Nope!" that I think was very much on target.

I posted this comment:

Some very good points here, Matthew.

I may be shooting from the hip on this one, but I'm of the opinion that nursing in public is often perceived to be indecent because it is (and has been for quite some time) done relatively rarely, thanks to the recommendations of the Herd of Indepdendent Thinkers who decided in the middle of the last century that the idea that babies should be fed formula somehow marked a crowning achievement for human civilization.

I say "relatively rarely" in reference to the portrayal of women's breasts exclusively as sexual, which is surely the norm in our pornified culture.

In essence, then, to the modern mind, the "real"—i. e., the belief that women's breasts are primarily for nursing her children—has been replaced by the "counterfeit"—i. e., the belief that women's breasts are primarily, if not exclusively, sexual.

(As an aside: Much the same can be said of contraception and its impact on people's attitudes toward sex. To the modern mind, the "real"—i. e., the belief that openness to having a child is an essential component of sex—has been replaced by the "counterfeit"—i. e., the belief that contraceptive sex is the norm.)

It follows that those of us who believe the opposite—that the real is actually the counterfeit and vice versa—are often considered daft.

My sense is that were public nursing to be done ubiquitously, this wacky popular notion that it is indecent would wane.

Monday, September 24, 2007

It's Gonna Happen

For fear that the Curse of the Billy Goat has not yet been broken, I've been reluctant to say publicly what I've been wanting to say for a few months now, but John Kass's column yesterday in the Chicago Tribune has served as a kick in the pants for me. Titled "Note to Cubs fans: Go all in or pack it in", it begins thusly:

All right Cubs fans. It's time to decide. Are you all in? Or are you out?

It's the last week of the season. The Cubs are fighting to get into the playoffs. No more hiding. No more wussification in the Cubs nation.

Are you in? Or not?

I ask this not as a White Sox fan who, like my Sox brothers and sisters, has been where you are now. I ask as Mr. Predictor, co-founder of the proposed Chumbolone Museum of Grant Park and dean of the new University of Chumbolone.

Don't be a chumbolone, Cubs fans. Believe in these Cubs.

Remember June? Cubs fans were in the fetal position, cursing Jacque Jones, damning Carlos Zambrano, giving Lou Piniella the finger for not knowing anything about baseball.

It was mass hysteria, and I could have fanned the flames of self loathing. Instead, I channeled Mr. Predictor. And what did Mr. Predictor tell you back in June?

That the Cubs would win this thing. They'd win it, they'd win it, they'd win it.

Now, in the last week of the season, don't take a turn to negativity town. You can still get on the bus, but the door closes Sunday afternoon.

I was able to get on the bus yesterday afternoon before the door closed. I'm all in.

Why not? After all, my "other team" (the team I've rooted for since childhood, the team that played its home games mere miles from the house I grew up in -- the Minnesota Twins) has been in a free fall for the better part of two months now, and will now be lucky to finish above .500.

So I now add my voice to the chorus of voices that have been proclaiming since late July, seemingly against all odds: It's gonna happen.

Friday, September 21, 2007

One of the Best. Paintings. Ever.

In honor of today, the feast of St. Matthew, behold Caravaggio's The Call of St. Matthew:

If you've never seen the original, add it to your own personal List of Things I Must Do Before I Die. It's in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, which is home to two other [!] Caravaggios as well, both of which also feature St. Matthew.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Planned Parenthood Aurora's Opening Delayed Again!

U. S. District Court Judge Charles Norgle has just ruled against Planned Parenthood's demand to let them open the largest abortion clinic in the country before the City of Aurora's investigation into Planned Parenthood's dealings with the city is completed.

So for now, the Abortion Fortress of Aurora remains CLOSED.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Today the feast of St. Januarius.

I've always been intrigued by this custom:

It is also well known and is the plain fact, seen even unto this day, that when the blood of St. Januarius, kept dried up in a small glass phial, is put in sight of the head of the same martyr, it is wont to melt and bubble in a very strange way, as though it had but freshly been shed."

It is especially this miracle of the liquefaction which has given celebrity to the name of Januarius, and to this we turn our attention. Let it at once be said that the supposition of any trick or deliberate imposture is out of the question, as candid opponents are now willing to admit. For more than four hundred years this liquefaction has taken place at frequent intervals. If it were a trick it would be necessary to admit that all the archbishops of Naples, and that countless ecclesiastics eminent for their learning and often for their great sanctity, were accomplices in the fraud, as also a number of secular officials; for the relic is so guarded that its exposition requires the concurrence of both civil and ecclesiastical authority. Further, in all these four hundred years, no one of the many who, upon the supposition of such a trick, must necessarily have been in the secret, has made any revelation or disclosed how the apparent miracle is worked. Strong indirect testimony to this truth is borne by the fact that even at the present time the rationalistic opponents of a supernatural explanation are entirely disagreed as to how the phenomenon is to be accounted for.

What actually takes place may be thus briefly described: in a silver reliquary, which in form and size somewhat suggests a small carriage lamp, two phials are enclosed. The lesser of these contains only traces of blood and need not concern us here. The larger, which is a little flagon-shaped flask four inches in height and about two and a quarter inches in diameter, is normally rather more than half full of a dark and solid mass, absolutely opaque when held up to the light, and showing no displacment when the reliquary is turned upside down. Both flasks seem to be so fixed in the lantern cavity of the reliquary by means of some hard gummy substance that they are hermetically sealed. Moreover, owing to the fact that the dark mass in the flask is protected by two thicknesses of glass it is presumably but little affected by the temperature of the surrounding air. Eighteen times in each year, i.e. (1) on the Saturday before the first Sunday in May and the eight following days, (2) on the feast of St. Januarius (19 Sept.) and during the octave, and (3) on 16 December, a silver bust believed to contain the head of St. Januarius is exposed upon the altar, and the reliquary just described is brought out and held by the officiant in view of the assembly. Prayers are said by the people, begging that the miracle may take place, while a group of poor women, known as the "zie di San Gennaro" (aunts of St. Januarius), make themselves specially conspicuous by the fervour, and sometimes, when the miracle is delayed, by the extravagance, of their supplications.

The officiant usually holds the reliquary by its extremities, without touching the glass, and from time to time turns it upside down to note whether any movement is perceptible in the dark mass enclosed in the phial. After an interval of varying duration, usually not less than two minutes or more than an hour, the mass is gradually seen to detach itself from the sides of the phial, to become liquid and of a more or less ruby tint, and in some instances to froth and bubble up, increasing in volume. The officiant then announces, "Il miracolo é fatto", a Te Deum is sung, and the reliquary containing the liquefied blood is brought to the altar rail that the faithful may venerate it by kissing the containing vessel. Rarely has the liquefaction failed to take place in the expositions of May or September, but in that of 16 December the mass remains solid more frequently than not.

A miracle? Not a miracle? Who knows? (Well, except for Him, of course...)

But an interesting phenomenon nonetheless.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Aurora Planned Parenthood Will NOT Open Tomorrow!


From the Aurora Beacon:

Planned Parenhood's Aurora center will not open on Tuesday as legal wrangling continues. A federal judge Monday set another hearing for Thursday to address issues by both sides in an ongoing lawsuit.

Hands down, the best line from the story about the non-opening of Planned Parenthood's ginormous Abortion Fortress tomorrow is this:

Planned Parenthood President and CEO Steve Trombley counted the judge's ruling as a victory for Planned Parenthood saying that it is clear the judge took the issue seriously.

Um, if you sue the city to force you to open on a particular day, and if the judge in the case does not rule that the city must allow you to open on that particular day, how can that possibly be considered a victory?

Opposition to Planned Parenthood Getting Stronger Every Day

Saturday's Jericho March finale at the Aurora Planned Parenthood site was a great success, with an estimated 1,000 people walking, singing, playing instruments, and, most of all, praying for the "Abortion Fortress" not to open.

We got some good media coverage, too:

  • See ABC News Channel 7 video here

  • See Fox News Channel 32 video here

  • See WGN News Channel 9 News video here

  • See the Chicago Tribune story here

Here are a couple of slide shows from the Jericho March finale:

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

More on Aurora Planned Parenthood

***UPDATE: 9/13, 1:15PM: Jeff from Chicago Pro-Life Activist has produced two video montages from Tuesday's City Council meeting, which include excerpts from the testimonies of both pro-lifers and pro-aborts:

The Aurora Planned Parenthood situation continues to get more interesting every day.

Jill Stanek was at the Aurora City Council meeting last night, and reports on it here.

After Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area CEO Steve Trombley published an open letter [PDF] last week in the Aurora Beacon smearing the good people of Aurora who oppose him as “anti-abortion activists with a history of advocating illegal and sometimes violent behavior", our attorney demanded [PDF] that he retract these false and libelous statements, or face legal redress.

Jill sums it up: "Steve Trombley obviously took Tom Brejcha's letter to cease and desist as a dare."

Two days ago, PP/CA published a full page ad (see here [PDF]) in the Beacon featuring a bombed abortion clinic, saying, "Joe Scheidler and his Pro-Life Action League have a well-documented history of advocating violence against both persons and property, as well as other related criminal activity."

Of course, the Supreme Court said otherwise -- not once, but twice -- and Joe Scheidler has always supported only peaceful methods of pro-life activism.

This having been said, consider how Jill reports one pro-lifer addressed the Mayor and City Council of Aurora last night:

One commenter told officials, "Does this look violent to you? This is what I do." And she marched back and forth in front of the podium with her rosary beads. She talked another minute and said again, "Again, does this look violent to you? This is what I do." And did it again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On This Date

September 11 is, for obvious reasons, a date with much sadness attached to it.

For our family, though, it is also a date with much joy attached to it, as our daughter Lucy was born on this date two years ago.

Here she is at one of her favorite pastimes -- climbing on the furniture:

Maligayang kaarawan, Lucia!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Marching to the Beat of a Different Drummer

I've always had a soft spot for people whom many other people consider a little bit odd.

People like Silvio Barile, for example.

There's an article about him in Friday's Chicago Tribune that begins thusly:

REDFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. - People think Silvio Barile is crazy, and Barile knows this.

It's not just that his Italian restaurant has become a museum for the crude, hulking concrete statues he labors over. Or that he freely airs disdain for America, which he also claims to love. Or that he's apathetic about bathing and washing clothes.

It's all of it. And more. Like the fact he believes his creepy, bug-eyed version of the David, with its heavy, graceless limbs, is better than Michelangelo's.

"A lot of people think I am crazy completely," said Barile, 67, a short, roundish man with a staccato Italian accent. "I think they're crazy. They are brainwashed by TV. They think they are better than they really are."

The article goes on to detail more of Barile's idiosyncrasies and peccadilloes. Sure, the guy isn't perfect -- and it's a darn good thing the health department shut down his restaurant -- but then again, who among us is?

Personally, I can't help but like the guy.

Exposure of Planned Parenthood's Fraud on Fox News Last Night

Check it out:

Friday, September 7, 2007

Well, That's One Way to Run a Town

If you didn't know any better, you might guess that this article was actually from The Onion.

But it's not:

Russian Mayor Bans Phrase 'I Don't Know'

MOSCOW — The mayor of a Siberian oil town has ordered his bureaucrats to stop using expressions such as "I don't know" and "I can't." Or look for another job.

Alexander Kuzmin, the 33-year-old mayor of Megion, has banned these and 25 other phrases as a way to make his administration more efficient, his spokeswoman said Tuesday.

"It's a suggestion to the staff that they should think before saying something," Oksana Shestakova said by telephone. "To say `I don't know' is the same as admitting your helplessness."

To reinforce the ban, a framed list of the banned expressions has been hanging on the wall next to Kuzmin's office for the past two weeks, Shestakova said.

Some of the other prohibited phrases are "What can we do?" "It's not my job," "It's impossible," "I'm having lunch," "There is no money," and "I was away/sick/on vacation."

Kuzmin, a businessman who was elected mayor 1 1/2 years ago, wants to "shake things up" in Megion, a town of 54,000 in the Khanty-Mansiisk region, the spokeswoman said.

The region, located some 1,500 miles northeast of Moscow, produces more oil than the rest of Russia combined. As world oil prices have risen sharply in recent years, the region has flourished, and in stark contrast to the rest of the country its population has grown at the rapid rate of more than 7 percent annually.

But construction has not kept pace, and the lack of adequate housing is one of the town's most serious problems, Shestakova said.

"Town authorities are there to make town residents' life comfortable and prosperous," Kuzmin, a trained oil engineer who studied business administration in Canada, said in a statement posted on the town Web site. "Town officials must work out mechanisms to solve and remove problems, not to avoid them."

Officials who disobey the ban while in the mayor's office "will near the moment of their departure," the statement said.

Providing the mayor with wrong or incomplete information, or being late in reporting important information will be considered an attempt to undermine his work, it said.

Anna Borovikova, the mayor's chief of staff, said the novel approach has improved discipline.

"Before, it was so easy to say `I don't know.' Now before reporting to the mayor we prepare several proposals on how one or another problem can be solved," Borovikova said.

At first it was hard to remember not to use the banned expressions, she said, and they "slipped in sometimes."

All I can say is this: Dilbert's co-worker -- the bald guy with glasses (what is his name, anyway?) -- is lucky he doesn't work in this town.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Search for a Unique Third-Class Relic of Mother Teresa

I realize I'm a day late with this post on Mother Teresa. I had meant to post something yesterday, as September 5 was the tenth anniversary of her death. I never got around to it, though, so I'm doing it today instead.

For some time, Mother Teresa has had a special place in my heart, likely stemming from my great fortune at being part of the crowd at a papal audience at Castel Gandolfo with John Paul II, of happy memory, two days after she died, at which he paid tribute to his dear diminutive friend.

We named our first daughter after her. It’s especially fitting that we did so, since Teresa was born on January 21, 2003 (January 21 is the feast of St. Agnes; and Agnes was Mother Teresa’s baptismal name -- although we didn't know that at the time our Teresa was born!), and 2003 was the year she was beatified.

A few months ago I had lunch with a friend of mine whom I hadn't seen in three years. I guess you could say Jan and I were "colleagues", although I'm generally inclined to think the word "colleague" sounds hifalutin.

At any rate, she and I are both former Religion teachers at Good Counsel High School in Chicago, where she also served as our department chairman for two years. (The school closed in 2003; the building now houses a charter school.)

During the course of our conversation, Jan asked me if I had ever heard the story about the time Mother Teresa had visited Good Counsel. I said that I remembered some of the teachers mentioning something about it one time, but I was sketchy on the details.

As it turns out, Mother Teresa once visited the school for some sort of convocation on religious life (presumably sponsored by the Felician Sisters, who operated the school and whose Mother of Good Counsel Province motherhouse was located next door).

One of the Felician sisters in attendance at the convocation had the foresight to recognize that Mother Teresa would surely one day become a saint, and so, after the event, this sister took the chair in which Mother Teresa had sat, put some sort of identifying mark on the underside of it -- with masking tape, as I recall -- and put it in a storage room. For, were Mother Teresa to become a saint, the sisters would then have their very own third-class relic.

After it was announced in the fall of 2002 that Good Counsel would be closing the following spring, the sister who had stored Mother Teresa's chair contacted Jan about it, because she couldn't remember where she put it! By that time, Jan had left GC and taken a teaching job in another state, but she called another former of colleague of ours -- Nancy, also a Religion teacher -- and told her about the missing chair/third-class-relic-to-be.

Nancy was teaching freshmen that year, and so decided to elicit the help of her charges in looking for said chair. So, she led them on what could, in a manner of speaking, be considered a mini-pilgrimage -- it was, after all, a quest for a relic -- and dispatched them to search the nooks and crannies of the school.

Sure enough, they found the chair. I'm told it's now in safe keeping at the Felician Sisters' motherhouse.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

In Court Today

The guy who assaulted me pled guilty and was given 12 months court supervision.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Opposition to Aurora Planned Parenthood Growing by Leaps and Bounds

***UPDATE: 9/4, 4:15PM: Pictures from Saturday's Youth for Truth Rally added below.***

My co-worker Eric Scheidler has a report on Saturday's Teen Rally at the Aurora Planned Parenthood site. I was happy to see that the rally also garnered a good article in the local paper, the Aurora Beacon (a subsidiary of the Chicago Sun-Times).

The event was sponsored by Youth for Truth, a new group of Aurora area pro-life teens from all different types of schools — public schools, Catholic schools, Christian schools, home schools, and universities. At their invitation, I attended their planning meetings in preparation for the rally.

From the beginning, I've been amazed at their enthusiasm and dedication to the pro-life cause. Now, with the huge success of Saturday's rally, I'm even more impressed.

The Aurora Planned Parenthood story is now attracting national attention. There was a not-half-bad article in, of all places, the Los Angeles Times on Friday, and I just got word from Eric that Fox News is planning to cover the story. Within the past hour, he sent out this update:

I've just gotten word that Fox News Channel (national) is going to be out at the Planned Parenthood site between 2 and 3 p.m. today.

They're interested in what we're doing here, and they're in the Chicago area all day conducting interviews on the Planned Parenthood situation.

So if you can make it, come out to the Vigil site at 2 o'clock to help show how broad the opposition to Planned Parenthood is. There's even a chance -- if you're willing -- that they might interview YOU.

***UPDATE: 9/4, 4:15PM: Here are some pictures I took at the rally on Saturday:

The 500 Youth for Truth T-shirts went like hotcakes, so a lot of teens didn't get one. Still, many who attended already had their own pro-life shirts, like this member of Youth for Christ, whose shirt says, "Pro-God, Pro-Family, Pro-Poor, Pro-Life":

Youths of all ages attended the Youth for Truth Rally, including our daughters Teresa, 4, and Cecilia, 3:

As we were getting the kids into the car after it was over Saturday afternoon, Cecilia summed up the rally as only a 3-year old can: "It was so fun."