Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Linus Said It Best

A Chesterton Advent Calendar, Part VI

After today, our office will be closed until January 5.

Thus, I won't be working until January 5.

Thus, I won't have a lunch break until January 5.

Thus, I won't be blogging until January 5.

So, I'll have to include not only today's installment of the Chesterton Advent Calendar (explanation here) but also those for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as well.

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!

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Chesterton Advent Calendar, Part V

Explanation here.

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

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Chesterton Advent Calendar, Part IV

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.

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

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

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Chesterton Advent Calendar, Part III

Explanation here.

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Chesterton Advent Calendar, Part II

Explanation in my last post.

17 December

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Chesterton Advent Calendar

In a post last week, I mentioned two friends of mine, Frank Petta (who died earlier this year at age 89), and his surviving wife Ann, whom I met through the Chicago Area G. K. Chesterton Society.

Every year in the mailing advertising the society's annual Christmas Party, Frank would always send 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, didn't he include a Chesterton quotation for each day of Advent?

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

For the next few days, 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

Gee, Who Could Have Seen This Coming?

Financial risk for taxpayers jumps in 2016 Olympics bid

Worsening economy boosts chances of Chicago paying $500 million guarantee

Read it. And weep.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Catherine Doherty, Servant of God

Sunday next is the 23rd 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.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

We Get the Elected Officials We Deserve

Given the events of today, I find it fitting, given the uber-corrupt nature of politics in our state, that Barack Obama's Senate replacement will be named by a man who's now in federal custody.

Just a few minutes ago, I happened to recall a related post I originally put up on the Generations for Life blog on 10/30/06 under the title "Shameless".

Said post follows:

A couple weeks ago, my wife and I received some mail from:

The Executive Mansion
410 E Jackson
Springfield, IL 62701-1719

It was addressed "To the Parents of Maria Jansen."

"What could this be?" we both thought.

Upon opening it, we found a card saying "Welcome, Little One" with a collection of stuffed animals looking out the window at an approaching stork carrying a bundle in its beak.

Opening it up, the right flap said, "The world is one baby sweeter now."

The main part of the card reads:

Congratulations on the birth of your new baby! Childbirth is an exciting event for every family, and we are proud to share in your joy.

A healthy child is a happy child. Therefore, it is important that your baby receive proper immunizations by two months of age. It will help to ensure protection against future illnesses.

Best wishes to your whole family on this very special occasion.

Rod Blagojevich

At this point, we had to chuckle. Honestly, we don't know which of our girls' births this card was intended to recognize, as all three of our daughters are named Maria. (We call each of them by their middle names).

Presumably, it was sent in response to the birth of our youngest daughter, Maria Lucia, who was born in September 2005. Which means the card is at least a year late (“…it is important that your baby receive proper immunizations by two months of age”).

I guess when your office is as scandal-plagued as Governor Blagojevich's is, these sorts of things get put on the back burner.

Monday, December 8, 2008

So You Thought Fox News Was Conservative, Did You?


I almost never watch Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends.” This past Sunday, however, I turned on the television for two minutes before leaving for church. The three hosts were reporting about a Chicago couple who had remained chaste until their wedding, and who had decided to save their first kiss for the wedding ceremony itself.

This was reported with the incredulity with which one might report a Wiccan moondancing ritual. The discussion went beyond the kiss question to chastity itself, with one of the talking heads announcing, “Try it before you buy it.”

..reminds me of this:

Kent Brockman is out of a job and is staying at the Simpsons' home. Homer, Lisa and Kent are watching FOX TV; a new reality show is being released.

NEW ON FOX. See if fifteen strippers can fly their own aircraft in the new reality series: Landing Strip!

Hey Laaaadies! Look what i can do with the airbags (attached to her push-up bra)

Homer: wow, this is what TV is all about. Real people with real problems.

(Changes the channel to FOX News)

Today on FOX News with the latest LIBERAL OUTRAGE. In Washington today, LIBERALS want to CHANGE the rules to allow NASA astronauts to ABORT space missions whenever they feel like it!

Homer: Ooh! Liberals ... I hate them so much.

Lisa: Kent, I've never understood why FOX can have such conservative views yet air such raunchy shows.

(Changes to Landing Strip)

Homer: Woo Hoo!

(Changes to FOX News)


Homer: Liberals!

(Changes to Landing Strip)

Homer: Woo Hoo!

"Without Stain"

In honor of today'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.

Whither Goeth England?

Words associated with Christianity and British history taken out of children's dictionary

Oxford University Press has removed words like "aisle", "bishop", "chapel", "empire" and "monarch" from its Junior Dictionary and replaced them with words like "blog", "broadband" and "celebrity". Dozens of words related to the countryside have also been culled.

The publisher claims the changes have been made to reflect the fact that Britain is a modern, multicultural, multifaith society.

Friday, December 5, 2008

This Student-Government Should Take Off, Eh?

There are, of course, so many worthwhile charities to support that it's simply impossible to support them all.

But sometimes, the reasons for choosing not to support a given charity are rather doltish:

The student-government association at Carleton University, in Ottawa, is drawing widespread criticism for withdrawing from a nationwide fund raiser for cystic fibrosis after deciding the disease was not “inclusive” enough, The Charlatan, Carleton’s student newspaper, reported.

Freshmen at 65 universities and colleges in Canada have raised millions for the disease over the past 50 years in a traditional event held during student-orientation week. But Carleton will no longer participate, after the association adopted a motion on Monday erroneously stating that the disease “has been recently revealed to only affect white people, and primarily men.” The motion directs student leaders to select a more “broad reaching” charity to support. [source]

Courtesy of Bryan Kemper

After the release of the Live Action Films video I wrote about earlier this week, our good friend Bryan Kemper has created this:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mass in Honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Next Friday, at the twelfth hour of the twelfth day of the twelfth month, the Pro-Life Action League will be co-sponsoring a solemn Mass at Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago in honor of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

This Mass, the first ever in Federal Plaza, is a significant exercise of our religious freedom, right on federal property—directly in front of the building where Barack Obama has his transition team office!

The Mass will be offered by Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller (who, I might add, is an amazingly gifted preacher).

One might say it shows more guts than brains to schedule an outdoor Mass in Chicago in December. (Indeed, it's already snowed twice this week, and the forecast high for today is a mere 24°.)

This is all the more reason why we're asking anyone and everyone—no matter where they hang their hat—to beseech God to grant Chicago good weather on December 12.

And, if you live close by, join us! There's more information here.

Federal Plaza is located at 50 W. Adams St. in Chicago.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Polyhedrons (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Check thou out Proposition 47, the blog of self-styled "polyhedron enthusiast" Nate Scheidler. (Nate is also the son of my co-worker Eric Scheidler.)

Indiana Planned Parenthood Covers Up Sexual Abuse of 13-Year Old Girl

Just released this morning, here's the first installment of The Mona Lisa Project, a series of undercover investigative videos from UCLA student Lila Rose and Live Action Films:

Indiana Planned Parenthood Covers Up Sexual Abuse of 13-year Old

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Advent in the Little Things

I just posted this on the Catholic Dads blog:

A few years ago, Jocelyn and I started making a conscious effort during Advent to celebrate it in such a way as to distinguish it from Christmas. (We had always had an Advent wreath, but we were looking for more.)

While I admit we have a long way to go in making this distinction at Haus Jansen, one of our family's now beloved customs—courtesy of a suggestion from some friends of ours—is to adorn our Christmas tree during Advent with purple and pink ornaments exclusively. Come Christmas Eve, we take them down, and only then do we put up our regular ornaments.

And because they get to decorate the tree twice, our kids have come to love this custom we have in our home every year that begins during "pink and purple time", as our five-year old daughter Teresa put it the other day.

We're always open to suggestions, so I'd be curious to hear about any of the ways other families commemorate Advent.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Would That I Had His Courage

"In condemning us, you condemn all your own ancestors, all our ancient bishops and kings, all that was once the glory of England -- the island of saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter."

Thus spake St. Edmund Campion upon being sentenced to death as a traitor.

He was hanged, drawn, and quartered on this day in 1581.

St. Edmund Campion, ora pro nobis!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Novena to the Immaculate Conception

For the past several years, St. Mary of the Angels Parish in Chicago has hosted a Novena to the Immaculate Conception.

The Novena consists of a nightly Rosary and a Mass in which the homily focuses on a particular aspect of Our Lady—Queen of the New Evangelization, Co-Redemptrix, etc. And, as is the custom at SMA, other priests hear confessions before (and, as it inevitably happens, during) Mass.

This Advent custom is something we always look forward to, as Jocelyn and I attended most nights of the Novena—shortly before we started dating—during our senior year of college nine years ago, when it wasn't nearly as well attended then as it has been in recent years. (St. Mary of the Angels is also the church where we were married.)

With our increasingly large family, it's harder for us to go as often as we'd like, but we're always able to make it at least one of the nights. And if you're in the area, I'd encourage you to do the same—or, better yet, to go more often.

This year's Novena starts this Sunday, November 30, the first Sunday of Advent and the traditional feast of the holy, glorious and all-laudable Apostle Andrew the First-Called.

The full schedule is here [PDF].

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

What's Wrong with the World

The Dutchman has a good Confession-related post in which he says:

The problem with most explanations is that they are self-serving. (Surely I'm not the problem!) If we could be really honest with ourselves, then we could formulate explanations that closely approximate the truth.

This, in turn, reminded me of the time when Chesterton—along with a myriad of other prominent writers of his day—was asked by the London Times to write an essay on the theme, "What's Wrong with the World?"

In response, Chesterton wrote a letter:

Dear Sirs,

I am.

Sincerely yours,
G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Think "Wayne's World" — Only Completely Different

A few months ago, our office got a call from a woman named Rebecca Marcovitz, who had several questions about the legality of abortion in our country. Like so many Americans, she was incredulous that late-term abortions are legal, and I confirmed that despite how unbelievable it sounds, abortion is effectively legal at any point during pregnancy.

We had a long conversation, during which she asked many questions and during which I had the chance to tell her about the grassroots pro-life activism the Pro-Life Action League helps people to get involved with.

After talking with her for a while, she mentioned that she produces a Christian program called "A Fork in the Road" on a local cable access channel, and she asked if I would like to be on the show some time, where I would have 30 minutes to talk about whatever I felt inspired to talk about pertaining to the pro-life cause.

Even though I'd never done anything quite like this before, I told her I was flattered by invitation, and that I would gladly accept. (My boss, Joe Scheidler, always recommends to pro-lifers that they accept without hesitation any invitation from the media to share the pro-life message.)

In preparation for the show, I asked Joe if I could "borrow" the talk he's given hundreds of times on the spiritual underpinnings of the pro-life movement. The outline for his talk provided the basis for the first part of what I would talk about, after which I went into a discussion of one of the more controversial activist tactics we employ, and about which I have written previously herein—that of showing graphic abortion pictures in public.

The show was taped yesterday at a studio in Highland Park, IL, and I was happy with how it went. I'm told it will run once a week for two weeks (or more?) in numerous suburban markets in Chicagoland—mostly in the north and northwest suburbs, but apparently also some in and around Naperville as well—and, interestingly enough, 540 miles away in Hibbing, MN, which is right next to Chisholm, the town where I was born.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Schools in the Jesuit Tradition" Is, for All Intents and Purposes, a Vacuous Euphemism

Alas, the hanged, drawn, and quartered body of St. Edmund Campion must be turning over in his grave at the state of Jesuit higher education these days.

This latest instance, via Mark Shea, reminds me of the time some ten years ago when, during Joe Scheidler's (my now-boss's) RICO trial in federal court, Loyola University Chicago's law school allowed NOW to solicit students to help them in their case against him. His daughter, my friend and current co-worker Annie Casselman, was a Loyola undergrad at the time (as was I).

I like Shea's idea, though: Don't give 'em a dime. Not one dime. Ever.

That's why Jocelyn and I have donated exactly nothing to our alma mater.

To be sure, I say this with no joy. Both of us received an excellent education at Loyola, and we were privileged to encounter many Jesuits there who have an undying love for the Faith.

Sadly, however, the increasing sense of disloyalty that has crept its way into the Society of Jesus has made for an environment in many (all?) of their universities in which Catholic identity is largely shelved and certain viewpoints diametrically opposed to Church teaching are tolerated out of a horribly misguided understanding of “academic freedom”.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm Not Missing This

Last month, our office got a call from Father Tim Fiala of the John Paul II Newman Center at UIC, who invited us to attend a bioethics symposium on the topic, "What Is Meant by the Term 'Quality of Life'?", which will be held next Friday, November 21.

The topic itself piqued my interest, and it was doubly piqued when I found out Dr. Peter Kreeft will be speaking—not to mention our own Cardinal Francis George.

And the price of the all-day symposium is a mere $30—and that includes breakfast and lunch. (With my penurious inclinations, even I recognize this would be a bargain at twice the price.)

Needless to say, I'll be there with bells on.

If you're interested, get thou more information here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fans Behaving Badly

One of my co-bloggers at Catholic Dads posted a story today that appears in the current version of The Catholic Spirit, the newspaper of the diocese I grew up in, the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis:

Last weekend, my 10-year-old son and I attended the Vikings-Packers game. He’s an avid sports fan and had never been to a professional football game. So I bought two tickets to this classic rivalry, thinking it would leave a lasting memory with my son. It did — but not because the Vikings won the game.

Here’s what my son said to me in the closing seconds of the third quarter: “I think maybe we should wait until I’m older to come to another game. I’ve never heard so much swearing in one building in my life.”

I agree.

From the opening kickoff to the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, a few fans around us — about six or seven — frequently directed obscenities at players, at the game’s officials and, even more frequently, at other fans sitting around them...

Alcohol at root of problem

I understand that emotions can be high when historic rivals meet. But these actions were inexcusable. In almost every case, the boorish behavior was the result of excessive alcohol consumption.

Read the rest here.

Reading this reminded me of what is possibly the most famous instance of boorish fan behavior in the history of American sports—which, incidentally, also occurred at a Vikings home game (albeit at the old Met Stadium, not the apology for a stadium that is the Metrodome)—to wit, the 1975 divisional playoff game when a fan threw a whiskey bottle and hit referee Armen Terzian in the head, rendering him unconscious. (Minutes earlier, Terzian didn't call pass interference on Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson—although Vikings fans thought he should have—and his touchdown catch put Dallas ahead for good.)

Ironically, the pass, thrown by Roger Staubach, was the original "Hail Mary".

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Now You See Him, Now You Don't

Mark Shea links to this story—"The disappearing male; Studies show rise in birth defects, infertility among men"— and comments thusly:

Five bucks say this has to do with birth control pills

Ten bucks says nobody will ever be told that.

I remember seeing an article about the highly abnormal sex ratio among the Aamjiwnaang First Nation community a few months ago, and I'm glad to see it continues to garner attention.

Considering what we already know about the bizarre effects that the estrogen-mimicking chemicals found in birth control pills are having on fish, it wouldn't be at all surprising if they're also a contributing factor to—among other things—skewed sex ratios among communities like the Aamjiwnaang First Nation.

It seems we have here yet another instance of Shea's Two Phases of History.

Phase One, you may recall, is:

What could it hurt?

Phase Two is:

How could we have known?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New and Improved!

Found this today on Facebook:

[HT: ?]

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Uh Oh

I wonder what Obama's election does for Chicago's chances to host the 2016 Olympics.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Now What?

We now have a president-elect who said he doesn't know when human beings should be given human rights, who promised to sign the Freedom of Choice Act—which would have a devastating effect on existing pro-life laws—and who voted to support legalized infanticide.

South Dakota's effort to ban most abortions failed.

California's effort to pass a commonsense parental notification law for minor girls seeking abortions failed.

Michigan voters approved a state constititutional amendment to permit stem cell research embryonic stem cell research (read: killing little people for the putative benefit of bigger people).

And Washington state became the second state to legalized doctor-assisted suicide.

(On the bright side, though, Proposition 8 appears to have passed in California.)

Details on all these state ballot measures are available here.

So, what do we do now? Wail and gnash our teeth? Beat our breasts and don sackcloth and ashes?

To be sure, there is a time for penance, and a time for mourning. (Along these lines, do read these three sobering posts on Christina Dunigan's RealChoice blog.)

After such time, we need to get active. And if we're already active, we need to get more active.

I've often told people who contact us looking to get involved in pro-life activities that just as all politics is local, so too is all pro-life activism.

David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life — whose most recent campaign saved the lives of over 520 babies — made this same point in a press release today, headlining it simply:

Pro-lifers must look beyond elections
and focus on making local impact


Who knows what new pro-abortion legislation will passed in the next four years, or who will be appointed to the Supreme Court?

Nobody does. And that's why we can't sit around and do nothing and wait for Someone Else To Do Something.

There is no better time than now to get involved in pro-life activism.

Now is not the time to hang our heads or wring our hands. Now is the time to put our pro-life beliefs into action in our own communities.

As for our attitude, we would do well to heed the counsel from a long-time pro-life activist who e-mailed this morning with some advice to keep in mind these next four years (and, for that matter, always):

Remember to be positive and joyful! Don't give in to negativity. St. Paul who was no stranger to difficulties told us, "with all our affliction, I am overjoyed" (2 Cor. 7:4). He exhorted his fellow Christians to be joyful: "Rejoice always" (1 Thess. 5:16); "rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice" (Phil. 4:4). We need to be cheerful and confident in our defense of Christ and life. "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). We will not win the world with a sour face but with the love, truth, and the joy of Jesus Christ. St. Peter tells us when we live and even suffer joyfully we can, "Rejoice in so far as you share Christ's suffering, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is reveled." (1 Peter 4:13).

And, as my boss, the redoubtable Joe Scheidler, reminded me this morning, at Mass we pray to Our Heavenly Father, "In your mercy keep us free from sin . . . as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ."

This was the Church's prayer yesterday. It is the Church's prayer today. And it will be the Church's prayer until the end of time.

Politicians and their unfulfillable promises of "hope and change" will come and go; but real, authentic "joyful hope"—along with faith, and above all, charity—these endure, and they sustain us.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm Voting for Obama

Because, you know, the Illinois junior senator himself said:

So I am going to try to be so persuasive in the 20 minutes or so that I speak that by the time this is over, a light will shine down from somewhere.

It will light upon you. You will experience an epiphany. And you will say to yourself, I have to vote for Barack. I have to do it.

So I guess I have no choice.


The Maronite Church

Via Mark Shea, here's a beautiful video giving the history of the Maronite Church in under two minutes:

I've attended the Maronite Divine Liturgy twice in my life, and I can't think of a good reason why it's only twice.

Absolutely, sublime, it is—in no small part because much of it (including the words of consecration) is in Aramaic, the language spoken by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, October 31, 2008

You Don't See That Every Day

Since last spring, when gas prices started getting uber-outrageous, I've been riding my bike to work not infrequently—on average, 2-3 times a week.

Yesterday was my last day doing so, what with daylight savings time ending this weekend, lacking a headlight, and fear of getting doored in the dark on the ride home.

Anywho, on the ride home yesterday afternoon, I nearly hit an 8-point buck. This is in the city of Chicago, mind you.

That's not something you see every day.

I wonder if, on the drive home today, I'll see a cougar?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

This Video Won't Last Long on YouTube...

Whenever a video of undercover footage exposing what really happens inside an abortion clinic is posted on YouTube, it's usually yanked soon after for no reason.

So I'm sure this video, just released by Students for Life of America, won't last long either:

(If it's no longer available on YouTube, you can also see it here on Eyeblast.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Election Day Is One Week Hence

And I note without comment that today is the feast of St. Jude.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pornography Awareness Week

Today marks the start of Pornography Awareness Week.

Therefore, men, beware! And resolve to use every means at your disposal (chief among them frequent Confession and Holy Communion) to resist its gravitational-like pull.

Along these lines, I'd encourage any and all of this here weblog's readers to sign this pledge to live chastely (which I found out about via the Catholic Dads blog).

I signed it. Will you?

I'm also reposting herein some self-explanatory test I originally borrowed stole from The Dutchman last year:

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.

Friday, October 24, 2008

No Question Left Behind

I just posted this on the Catholic Dads blog:

Some of you fellow inhabitants of Catholic Dads-Land may be familiar with Maureen Wittmann, who is well known in the Catholic homeschooling world for her contributions as an author, blogger, and speaker.

I first got to know Maureen via e-mail after the 2007 March for Life, when she contacted Generations for Life, the pro-life youth outreach I work for, and we helped her and a group of teens start a new pro-life club in Lansing, MI.

She wrote us recently to tell us about a great new blog — written by teens, for teens — called No Question Left Behind.

Originally, No Question Left Behind was supposed to be a book, but those plans fell through. So now, it's a blog.

In the introduction, Maureen (who edited it) writes:

It is my hope that the No Question Left Behind blog is a help to the many teens whose hearts are filled with questions about themselves, their friends, the world, and the Church.

For those of you who have teenage kids, or for those of you (like me) who work with teens, I think you'll find NQLB to be a great resource.

What makes it unique is that teens themselves not only wrote the questions, but also answers to those questions. Those who contributed are a mix of Catholic high school, public high school, and homeschooled students.

There are some great questions, including:

A post with a new Q & A — there are over 200 in all — appears every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so visit and visit often.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Jolly Fat Man Must Be Turning Over in His Grave

Joe Biden can't let it go. In a recent interview, he said:

It's very difficult. I was raised as a Catholic, I'm a practicing Catholic, and I'm totally at home with the Catholicism that I was raised in and this whole culture of social responsibility, reaction to abuse of power, the whole notion that there is collective civic responsibility. It's the Catholic consciousness that I'm totally comfortable with.

The part that gets hard is that I'm of the view that I have trouble viewing termination of pregnancy in terms of choice. Choice makes it sound like, uh, 'I choose today to go to the market.' 'I choose today to terminate my pregnancy.'" It is not choice. It's always a very, very, very difficult, difficult decision. I know that, my church has wrestled with this for 2,000 years. ... To sum it up, as a Catholic, I'm a John XXIII guy, I'm not a Pope John Paul guy.

Mark Shea — who is most emphatically not in the tank for John McCaincomments:

The trick here (and it's one that works with both the dissenting Progressive and the dissenting Reactionary) is to posit that there are really two Churches, one old and one new. Biden's narrative is a slight departure from the norm since normally the Old Church is the one just before John XXIII, but it's the same basic idea. There was this mythical Pope, you see, named John XXIII and he basically taught that if the Democrats said it was socially responsible, then you could do it even if it disagreed with that musty old Church teaching. But then Mean Pope John Paul tried to stop all that because he hated sex and everything. And of course, mean Pope Benedict is also a control freak like JPII. But good Catholic Democrats know that John XXIII said it was okay to do whatever you wanted, especially if it meant votes for Democrats.

All this, the MSM sums up with the headline: "Biden balances his faith with social responsibility". Cuz, you know, the faith is like totally the opposite of social responsibility, dude.

I've long since grown tired of hearing politicians — or, for that matter, anyone else — blather about how the Catholic Church's teaching on the sinfulness of abortion was at some point(s) in history less than clear, and hearing this canard now causes me to want to do this.

Deo gratias, not a few American bishops have been particularly forceful in their condemnations of this vile lie, and the larger issue of the role of abortion in deciding how a Catholic should vote [pdf].

Archbishop Charles Chaput's address given last week was especially noteworthy, and called to mind this comment I came across a few years ago on Amy Welborn's blog, which was in reference to — appropriately enough — another statement by another bishop (Bishop Thomas Doran of Rockford, IL), also pertaining to politics:

Holy Deus Lo Volt, Batman!

Usually I need coffee reading a bishop's column. This is like eating the beans straight from the bag.

Then there's the bluntness of Scranton's Bishop Martino:

The Bishop stepped up to the microphone. He told those present: “No social issue has caused the death of 50 million people”. ... Then he spoke those four words, “This is Madness People.”

Yeah, I'd say so.

All New Homestar Runner Halloween Costumes

Check 'em out!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


The attempt to force abortion on Northern Ireland has failed.

Two of my co-workers spoke at a Rally for Life in Belfast on Saturday calling on the Westminster Parliament not to impose abortion on the province, and we — and indeed all pro-lifers on both sides of the Atlantic — are thrilled at this news.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I've been outed.

If I ever encounter an overzealous neo-HUAC enthusiast who will stop at nothing to get an answer to, "Are you now, or have you ever been in conversation with a former member of the Communist Party?" I'll know who to blame.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Trying to Fool Enough of the People All of the Time

With respect to his voting record on the Illinois Born Alive Infants Protection Act, the junior senator from our fair corrupt state thinks he can fool enough of the people all of the time.

And, in one of those Sad To Say But Sometimes People Just Aren't Paying Close Enough Attention To What's Really Going On Here kind of moments, our good friend Jill Stanek points out that his strategy just might work.

Because, you know, no one really believes that Barack "But if [my daughters] make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby" Obama would vote to support legalized infanticide, do they?

Because that's, like, unbelievable, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm a Sucker for Satire

Although I'm increasingly skeptical that the mass-exodus prompting event mentioned herein will actually come to pass, the lampooning of a certain subset of the American population is brilliant:

[HT: Mark Shea]

In Esteemed Company (Part 2)

The conference in Nebraska went very well. This was the first time I'd given a talk of any significant duration to a (mostly) adult audience, and I was pleased with it. And, talking with folks afterward, it seemed to be well received.

And there was much rejoicing...

The teen conference we ran earlier in the day also went very well. The organizers were hoping for at least 100 students; some 150 attended!

We also got a lot of great feedback on the conference evaluation forms. Here are some of the comments we received:

"I learned a lot being here. It changed my thinking on what abortion really is and it made me think of how I can help others to see what we see."

"I am glad I came. I think the pro-life message is important for today's young people to support because we are the future and change will only occur if we are willing to stand up for what we believe."

"The conference was inspirational and motivational! It made me want to go out and make a difference!"

"Very informative and motivating! I love babies!"

"I thought it was really good. I didn't know what to expect, but it was really well done, appealing, and getting to the point."

"You guys are awesome and I'm glad there's people who are trying to help every teen out in the fight for life."

"I thought it was very informative and inspired me to get more involved."

"Very good! Thank you so much! I've been very pro-life my entire life but I learned so much about WHY I am today."

"It was really informative, a great way to meet kids with the same values."

"I learned a lot and enjoyed seeing my peers believe in the same things."

"I thought it was good to learn how I can defend what I believe. It also really stuck out to me when the video said we need to educate ourselves -- showed me how much more responsible I need to become."

I particularly liked this one:

"I loved it soooo much and am going to argue with my pro-choice teacher about everything."



On a completely different note: Gas is A LOT CHEAPER in Nebraska than what we're used to paying in Cook Crook County.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

In Esteemed Company

This Saturday, the speakers at the Nebraska Catholic Conference's "Celebrating 40 Years of Humanae Vitae" conference will be:

  • Dr. Janet Smith, Chair of Life Ethics, Professor of Moral Theology, Sacred Heart Major Seminary

  • Sr. Renee Mirkes, Director, Center for NaPro Ethics, Pope Paul VI Institute

  • Susan Wills, Esq., Director of Education, Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

  • Me

To say that I'm flattered at this privilege would be a colossal understatement.

The talk I'll be giving is titled "A Springtime in the Church: Forming and Activating the Next Generation".

Earlier in the day, my co-worker Annie Casselman and I will be running the teen segment of the conference, the theme for which is "Reclaiming Our Generation for Life".

That said, I'll have my hands full with preparations these next few days, so I likely shan't be blogging again till next week.

In the meantime, prayers would be sincerely appreciated.

Monday, October 6, 2008

This Video Won't Last Long on YouTube

I just got an email from Students for Life of America about their latest investigative video.

Watch it now—I'm sure it will be yanked soon:

Here's SFLA's press release:

Video Catches Planned Parenthood Covering Up Statutory Rape

ARLINGTON, VA - Students for Life of America (SFLA) has released a video exposing two Planned Parenthood clinics in Winston-Salem and Charlotte, North Carolina covering up statutory rape of young girls. To view the video, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkakpcWSyWY

In June of 2008, two college women volunteering for Students for Life of America entered two clinics in North Carolina posing as underage girls, 15 and 14, who just had unprotected sex with their mother's live-in boyfriend who was in his 30s; each girl told the clinic workers that he suggested she come get the morning the Morning After Pill. According to N.C. Gen. Statue 7B-301 and 7B-101, this information was enough to trigger North Carolina statutory rape reporting laws, obligating any person who learned of this story to report the crime to authorities.

In both visits, Planned Parenthood staffers acknowledged that what was happening to the girls was statutory rape and even admitted that they were required to report the incident.

However, after the visits, Students for Life of America filed North Carolina Public Records Requests to find out if the Planned Parenthood locations had reported the crimes. SFLA has obtained and posted documents, which show that the crimes were not reported to authorities in either Charlotte or Winston-Salem. To view the reports from police department authorities, go here: http://www.studentsforlife.org/index.php/plannedparenthoodinvestigation/

In addition to covering up the statutory rape of these young girls by failing to report, both Planned Parenthoods were willing to help them get on birth control without their parents' knowledge, which would prolong the abuse while covering evidence. One staffer in Charlotte even said to the girl, "You can do it now," and set an appointment for the minor to obtain birth control the following week.

Further, both clinics told the girls that anyone over the age of 18 could simply go to a drug store and buy the Morning After Pill for them, giving the girls' rapists a tool to further cover their crime of rape.

SFLA's Executive Director, Kristan Hawkins commented on the videos today saying, "These videos are simply shocking. That Planned Parenthood staffers acknowledged the girls were being raped and then did not report the crime is horrific. They allowed these girls to go home to their rapists and even confirmed that their rapists could get the Morning After Pill for them to cover their crimes."

Tom McClusky, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Family Research Council, responded to the investigation, "As long as Planned Parenthood puts their fealty to abortion on demand above protecting young girls from statutory rapists then investigations such as the ones done by SFL will be needed."

To view the video, go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkakpcWSyWY

Friday, October 3, 2008

Methinks He Doth Exaggerate

Matt Damon needs to know whether Sarah Palin believes dinosaurs were here 4,000 years ago, “because she’s gonna have the nuclear codes”.

Well enough. It's his right to so inquire.

But my question is:

Does anyone actually believe Joe Biden spends "a lot of time" at Home Depot?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Remember Tony Alamo

Recently, on one of the rare days when I went to catch the bus (and train, and another train, and another bus) to get to work, I saw something tucked into the windshield wiper of our motorcar on the street in front of Haus Jansen.

So before walking the block to the bus stop, and wanting to assure myself it wasn't a ticket, I went to see what it was.

It was a booklet, on the cover of which was a picture of a fellow who looked not entirely unlike Elvis Presley.

At the top, the masthead read, "Tony Alamo Ministries", so I assumed the fellow who looked somewhat like Elvis was one Tony Alamo, and that same runs some sort of Protestant ministry.

As it turns out, of course, it was, and he does.

I'd not theretofore heard of Tony Alamo, and glancing quickly at the other motorcars parked on our street, I was curious why ours appeared to be the only one on which some Tony Alamo devotee in our neighborhood had seen fit to place one of his publications.

So I took it with me to browse on the bus ride, and I soon realized why our vehicle was singled out: we have a Rosary hanging from our rear-view mirror. (And, as The Dutchman has pointed out, the Rosary has a habit of offending the right people.)

Tony Alamo, you see, is quite the anti-Catholic. Much of his long, rambling publication seemed to warn of either the Vatican's or the U.S. government's (or both) intent to tunnel under your house or something.

This article from a 1990 issue of This Rock offers a glimpse into Alamo's rather shady history. A few years later, he was arrested and convicted on tax-related charges.

And, just a few weeks ago, his Arkansas compound was raided by FBI agents and state police as part of a child pornography investigation.

Not the kind of the guy I'd want to want to place my trust in.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Well-Deserved Honor

I've written previously of my admiration for Fr. Rich Simon, who recently received the Lifetime Dedication Award from the Archdiocese of Chicago's Office for Hispanic Catholics.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Rev. Simon said that he learned his Spanish while volunteering at a North Side orphanage, leaving him with the vernacular of a Puerto Rican orphan. But the language served him well, as for more than 20 years, Simon served as liaison to the city's charismatic renewal prayer groups, a demonstrative form of worship that appealed to many immigrants from Latin America.

The experience convinced Simon of the benefits Hispanic culture could contribute to both Catholicism and American culture.

"Our background ultimately isn't ethnic, it's Catholic," Simon said. "Our future lies in the relationship between Spanish-speaking and English-speaking people. If we don't deal with it in a serious or realistic way, we will get swamped."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Baseball Loyalties

I've written before of my affinity for the Cubs. I guess I became a Cubs fan when I moved to Chicago in 1996, for my freshman year of college at Loyola.

As a then-North Side transplant, I figured, you know, "When in Rome..." Plus, I saw no contradiction in simultaneously remaining a Twins fan, as I had been (to varying extents) since I was a wee lad, at a time when I was unaware that there were other benighted tots outside our state who thought, whilst playing "Duck, Duck, Goose" that they were playing the real thing.

But I digress.

These days, I still see no contradiction in being both a Twins and a Cubs fan. After all, who is the Twins' archrival—who they just swept—huzzah!—to take over sole possession of first place in the tradition-rich AL Central? The White Sox, of course.

And what American League do Cubs fans hate the most? Obviously, the White Sox.

As the old saying goes: My enemy's enemy is my friend.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008










I remarked a few months ago on this here weblog that at one time in my life, I thought I knew a lot about economics. Ironically, the more I came to learn about economics, the more I realized I actually don't know very much about it.

Like many of us, I'm left scratching my head wondering whether the current bailout proposal is a good idea. Needless to say, I'm skeptical.

[HT: Mark Shea]

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"...[I]t remains the most famous do-over in a sport where there are no do-overs."

Today marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most famous incidents in baseball history, which has long since been known as "the Merkle Blunder".

What with the Cubs' history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory since the Curse of the Billy Goat was visited on them 37 years later, it's somewhat ironic that this putative miscue was committed not by the Cubs, but by their opponents—specifically, Fred Merkle of the New York Giants.

Not insigifnicantly, the incident played a major role in allowing the Cubs to make the playoffs that year. They would, of course, go on to win the World Series.

It needn't be mentioned that they haven't won a World Series since.

The New York Daily News offers a fascinating look back:

One hundred years ago this afternoon, the New York Giants and the Chicago Cubs played a game that can still be found on baseball's figurative Mount Rushmore, next to the Bobby Thompson home run game, the Sandy Amoros catch game, Don Larsen's perfect game, and the game where Carlton Fisk waved it fair.

No one who played in or saw the game is alive. The Polo Grounds, where it was played, was demolished a half century ago. Doesn't matter. Some games just endure.

More specifically, what happened on Sept. 23, 1908, was this.

With the first breezes of autumn in the air, Giants' Hall of Famer Christy Matthewson had allowed only a solo home run by Cubs' shortstop Joe Tinker in the first nine innings. On the Cubs' side, Jack Pfeister also gave up just one run through eight.

But in the bottom of the ninth, the Giants' Moose McCormick reached on a fielder's choice with two out and was singled to third by rookie Fred Merkle. As Cait Murphy noted in her marvelous book "Crazy '08" (Smithsonian. $24.95), some reporters felt Merkle could have gotten himself a double. But his decision to stay at first was considered smart baseball, since he would gain little by trying for second. In the bottom of the ninth of a 1-1 game, only McCormick's run mattered.

Al Bridwell followed Merkle and slammed a clean line drive single to center, sending McCormick home and Giants fans pouring out onto the field to celebrate their 2-1 win.

Except there was a problem.

Running toward second base, Merkle had seen McCormick cross the plate and the crowd start to overrun the field. Following the custom of the day, then, he took a right turn and headed for the clubhouse, which in the Polo Grounds was behind dead center field.

When he did, Cubs second baseman Johnny Evers yelled for center fielder Art Hofman to throw him the ball.

What happened after that, Murphy notes, is lost in the mists of time - mists that closed in rapidly. The next day's newspapers contained at least a half dozen radically different accounts of the events at the apparent end of the game.

In some of them, Merkle was intercepted by Mathewson and steered back to second base. Some accounts said he got there, which he didn't.

In most accounts, Giants' pitcher "Iron Man" Joe McGinnity dashed from the first base coach's box to intercept the ball Hofman threw back to the infield and fling it deep into the stands.

That was that, McGinnity figured, except Evers was still yelling. If that ball was gone, he wanted another one.

Eventually he found one. Some say it was the real one, ripped away from a fan in the stands by little-used relief pitcher Rube Kroh. Others say it was another ball, relayed to Evers by shortstop Joe Tinker and maybe even third baseman Harry Steinfeldt, in a bizarre alternate version of the Cubs' famous Tinker-to-Evers-to Chance double play combination.

Whatever the ball's origin, Evers secured it, touched second base and asked the umpires – R.D. Emslie at second base and Henry O'Day behind the plate – to call Merkle out on a force play, which would nullify McCormick's winning run.

Emslie, who fell to the ground avoiding Bridwell's single, said he didn't see whether Merkle touched second and therefore couldn't make a call.

O'Day said he did see and no, Merkle did not touch second. Therefore, yes, he was out. McCormick's run did not count. The score was still 1-1.

The reason the home plate umpire was watching second base on this play was a story in itself. Nineteen days earlier, on Sept. 4, O'Day was behind the plate when Evers had attempted a similar appeal after a Cubs' game against Pittsburgh ended with a similar walk-off single.

Back in Pittsburgh, O'Day said he could not call the runner out because he had not been watching whether he touched second. Umpires never like having to say they didn't see something they should have, so obviously O'Day had made a mental note not to let that happen again.

By the time Merkle was called out, it was also getting dark, and given the logistics of clearing the field, O'Day saw no way for the game to resume. He called it on account of darkness and left National League President Harry Pulliam to decide what to do next.

Since there were still two weeks left in the season, Pulliam joined the general hope that in the end this game wouldn't affect the standings and he wouldn't have to do anything.

No such luck. The season ended with the Giants and Cubs tied for first place at 98-55.

So on Oct. 8 they all trooped back to the Polo Grounds to replay what was already being called The Merkle Game or, less kindly, The Merkle Blunder.

Read the rest here.

The New York Times notes:

On the afternoon of Oct. 8, an enormous crowd engulfed the Polo Grounds, willing to do anything to see a game that would decide the pennant. They teetered along Coogan’s Bluff above the ballpark; climbed up on the grandstand roof; perched on the elevated train viaduct out past left field. One man fell to his death from the el; another fell from a telegraph pole and broke his neck. A wedge of fans broke through a wooden fence into the outfield and had to be pushed back by mounted police. Later, they tried setting the fence on fire.

A second crowd gathered down at Grand Central Station to jeer the Cubs as they arrived after a 14-hour train ride. The Cubs players literally shouldered their way into the park. Once inside, they were allotted only 15 minutes of warm-ups, after which McGinnity came on the field, ringing a bell and telling them their time was up.

Some accounts at the time said McGinnity went right up to Frank Chance, the Cubs’ manager and best player, cursing and spitting and apparently trying to start a fight that would get Chance thrown out of the game.

Nevertheless, Chance and the Cubs kept their heads. The Giants fans set up a perpetual roar, ringing cowbells and blowing trumpets. They went wild when the great Christy Mathewson made his slow walk to the mound from center field, but what they did not know was that Mathewson, who had thrown 110 innings in September alone, had a dead arm. The Cubs pushed across four runs early and held on behind their own ace, Mordecai Brown, better known as Three Finger.

“From the stands there was a steady roar of abuse,” Brown said later. “I never heard anybody or any set of men called as many foul names as the Giant fans called us that day.”

Foul names might have been the least of their worries. The New York Journal reported that Cubs catcher Johnny Kling, chasing a pop foul, had to dodge “two beer bottles, a drinking glass and a derby hat.”

The moment Brown got the last out in the Cubs’ 4-2 victory, he and his teammates ran as fast as they could to the center-field clubhouse.

They were not fast enough. Pitcher Jack Pfiester was knifed in the shoulder, and Chance was punched so hard in the throat that he sustained broken cartilage. At least three other Cubs were struck, and the police had to hold shut the clubhouse doors with guns drawn.

So what happened to Merkle?

Merkle's career went up hill from there. He went on to play another 18 seasons, compiling a respectable .273 batting average.

Perhaps ironically, he was known as a smart player, someone who paid attention to the nuances of the game. After he retired he managed for almost 10 years before he took some government jobs and later went into the fishing equipment business.

With some trepidation he returned to the Polo Grounds for Old-Timers Day in 1950 and was greeted with cheers.

Still, the legacy of Sept. 23, 1908, followed him.

"I suppose when I die," he told a reporter, "they'll put on my tombstone, 'Here Lies Bonehead Merkle.'"

For what it's worth, they didn't.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Du Bist Deutschland

On my last post, one Santiago Chiva posted the following comment, at the end of which was a link to an uber-cool video:

On the topic of abortion, even many people who defend the possibility of legal abortions, they say they are not pro-abortion, but they don’t want to punish women who are in this difficult situation. In Germany a curious thing has happened. Something that reflects that legal abortion affects adversely to the country. And also that the change is possible: you can promote a culture of life with the support of the citizens, when really there is a real wish of avoid abortions. Since the liberalization of abortion in this country, the number of abortions is officially four million. For that reason, among others, children are seen as an unintended effect of having sex. Many people thought it was necessary to promote greater social acceptance of children in an aging society. And civil society acted, without waiting for action by the State to promote births. They joined several media organizations in a campaign. Interestingly, after the campaign, the birth rate has risen in Germany. The video is exciting. Look here:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Gianna Jessen, an Abortion Survivor, Tells Her Story

In response to this ad:

...ABC News reporter Jake Tapper a person who claims to be a man, and who claims to be named Jake Tapper, and who claims to be a reporter for ABC News (which claims to be a news outlet), said earlier this week that Jessen "claims" to be an abortion survivor.

While it's entirely correct to say Jessen "claims" to be an abortion survivor, it's also an entirely stupid thing to say, as a little fact-checking verifies that not only does Jessen claim to be an abortion survivor, but that she actually is an abortion survivor.

Now, to be fair, the reporter who claims to be Jake Tapper has since posted an update indicating that Jessen's medical records "support her story". How nice of him to point that out. Indeed, they do support her story, because it happens to be a true story.

Yesterday, Barack "But if [my daughters] make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby" Obama has responded to the Gianna Jessen ad:

But as Jill Stanek has shown through extensive documentation, the Obama camp's argument that the Illinois BAIPA was superfluous falls flat.

Summit Recap

Here's the write-up of the National Pro-Life Leadership Summit we hosted yesterday, and here is the statement [PDF] we issued.

In Honor of Today's Being Talk Like a Pirate Day

Did you hear about the new pirate movie?

It's rated arrrrrrrrrrr.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"A Day Late But Not an Overtime Dollar Short"

For them that don't know, we received rainfall of biblical proportions this past weekend. Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood was among the areas that suffered the worst flooding as a result.

This letter writer in today's Chicago Tribune had this to say:

Not Olympic ready

As a nearby resident, I took a walking tour of the Albany Park area Sunday afternoon. I saw the conflicting images of the rapid devastation of a river's torrents and the placid, ineffectual crisis-management response by the city and county administrations. The only sign of completed work was a smattering of small sandbags having been placed at river's edge. There was a poorly managed group of city workers from various departments attempting to make something of a sand pile at one cross-street while police officers were posted at intersections where there was no traffic.

The lack of urgency and collective purpose was appalling—a day late but not an overtime dollar short.

In witnessing the debacle of last year's marathon, I came to expect (but not accept) this type of paltry response on the part of the mayor's office. Is this a city administration that can properly govern the 2016 Olympics? Of course not.

—Jeffrey Conover


Give that man a cigar.

This Is Where I'll Be Tomorrow

Pro-Life Organizations Launch Nationwide Campaign Against Planned Parenthood

CHICAGO, Sept. 17 /Christian Newswire/ -- This Thursday, September 18, leaders from more than 20 pro-life organizations will come together in Rosemont, Ill., to draft a joint resolution, expected to outline a plan to de-fund and shut down Planned Parenthood.

The pro-life advocates will gather at the "Planned Parenthood: BAD for America" summit, organized by the Pro-Life Action League, of Chicago, to share techniques that have proved successful in impeding Planned Parenthood's objectives across the country. This is the first time so many pro-life groups from across the country have gathered in a single location to address fighting Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider.

"Each pro-life group emphasizes different strategies for effectively reducing abortion, but we all share a common goal - to stop abortion forever," says Eric Scheidler, PLAL communications director. "Even as the abortion rate declines nationally, Planned Parenthood's abortion numbers are on the rise - and now Planned Parenthood has launched a major expansion, aggressively targeting the young and vulnerable of our nation. Today more than ever, the pro-life movement must stand together to oppose Planned Parenthood."

Scheidler led the effort last year to oppose the opening of a massive new Planned Parenthood facility in Aurora, Ill. - called "Ground Zero" by Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards -- and has advised other pro-life groups around the country on mobilizing grassroots resistance to Planned Parenthood's designs on their communities.

The summit agenda includes presentations by experts who are veterans from the pro-life battlefield, including the following:

"Fighting Planned Parenthood in the Courtroom" with Tom Brejcha, chief counsel of Thomas More Society/Pro-Life Law Center, which has litigated cases against Planned Parenthood in state and federal court.

"Exposing the True Face of Planned Parenthood to the American Public" with Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America, which has exposed Planned Parenthood's willingness to accept racially motivated donations through a series of widely viewed YouTube videos.

"Planned Parenthood's Vision for the Future" with Jim Sedlak, executive director of STOPP Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading Planned Parenthood watchdog group, which has charted Planned Parenthood's expansion effort.

Scheidler and his father, Joe Scheidler, renowned pro-life advocate, will facilitate discussion and drafting of a joint resolution on steps the pro-life coalition will take to combat Planned Parenthood in the coming years.

"Planned Parenthood is a huge organization, flush with cash, but no enemy is too big when we work together," the younger Scheidler says. "When all of these pro-life groups gather on Thursday, America will see a unified front in the battle to save unborn babies from their number-one enemy, Planned Parenthood."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


HT: Mark Shea

The War on Abstince [Sic]

Last week a press release from the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy found its way into my inbox with "Abstince-Only [sic] Programs Advance Harmful Stereotypes" in the subject line:

Abstinence-only sex education programs not only are ineffective, but also advance harmful gender stereotypes, states a new ACS Issue Brief. The authors examine a little-noticed aspect of a controversial issue that otherwise has been much studied.

The article notes that the abstinence-only programs “taught in the U.S. public schools suffer from numerous flaws,” such as providing students misinformation. But the authors, Bonnie Scott Jones, a deputy director with the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Michelle Movahed, a staff attorney with the Center, point out that abstinence-only programs also can contain the “deeply harmful flaw” of perpetuating gender stereotypes.” Some of the programs “teach boys and girls that their abilities, natures, capacities, and potential are defined and limited by gender.”

What, you mean, like, teaching that *only* one of the two sexes can get pregnant?

Tut, tut.

The reliance on, and advancement of, these stereotypes, the authors say, subvert the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.


They call on lawmakers and educators to take steps to ensure they are not used in public school curricula.The authors also suggest a number of reforms they say policy makers and educators should consider.

Such as?

For example, they say that lawmakers should stop funding abstinence-only programs in favor of non-discriminatory, comprehensive sex education programs.

Ah, yes—of course: