Thursday, February 26, 2009

What's the Solution for Reducing Abortions?

According to pro-choice writer William Saletan, the answer is the Bullwinkle Approach, of course.

Ross Douthat explains why this, uh, isn't such a good idea.

[HT: JivinJ]

A Plug for "Called to Communion"

My friend and co-worker Matt Yonke posted this on his blog yesterday:

I’m very happy to announce a new venture that myself and several other converts from the reformed faith to Catholicism have started. It’s a website we’ve dubbed “Called to Communion.”

The site’s goal is to foster communication between the spheres of the churches of the reformation and the Catholic Church.

All of us have learned and grown in our faith during our time in the reformed communities and appreciate the depth that lies therein. But we have all come to agree that the fullness of the Christian faith subsists in the Catholic Church and we want to talk about those ideas with our reformed brethren.

The roster of guys who will be writing on this site blew me away the first time I read it. These are the most irenic, respectful, even keeled converts I know on the web. There’s even a few PhD’s in the mix! There will be no Jew-bashing, turn-or-burn polemics here. Only reasoned dialogue between brothers in Christ.

The main part of the site will consist of peer-reviewed articles on topics of major difference between Catholics and reformed. There will also be a blog where readers can discuss the articles and other subjects pertinent to the mission of the site.

So, I hope you stop by early and often. I think it’ll be a great site to discuss the issues that divide us now so that one day, by God’s grace, they will unite us.

Check thou it out.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Holy Compact Car, Batman!

Apparently the Smart Fortwo has been around for a few years, but I'd never seen one myself until recently.

Seeing it reminded me of a scene from one of my favorite Simpsons episodes, "22 Short Films About Springfield".

You can watch it here — the scene I was reminded of starts at 18:41.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


It's funny because it's true.

Of course, the temptation when watching something like this is to think, "I hate it when people complain like that."

But who among us doesn't complain—yea, like that?

In six days, we'll have ashes placed on our foreheads and hear the words, "Remember, man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return."

As we prepare for this ever so necessary reminder of our mortality, now is as good a time as any to take stock of the amount of breath we waste when we complain.

I've written previously on this here weblog that a priest of Opus Dei, quoting St. Josemaria Escriva, once told me during confession, "Don’t say, 'That person bothers me.' Think: 'That person sanctifies me.'" (Would that I actually put this into practice in my daily life, then I'd really be getting somewhere.)

Griping and moaning about anyone or anything we find less than agreeable is so facile; any schmuck can do it without exerting the scantest effort.

But refusing to complain—now that takes fortitude. And think of the model we offer others when we show patience instead of descending all too easily into bitter, angry bellyaching.

[HT: Sean Dailey at The Blue Boar]

Monday, February 16, 2009

Show Me a Culture That Despises Virginity and I'll Show You a Culture That Despises Children*

Example #698412306221612765891:

Amazon pulls 'rape' computer game

A computer game in which players compete to rape women and get them to abort their babies has been pulled from sale on

Rapelay, a Japanese "rape simulation" game which revolves around the premise of "hunting" down and raping a single mother and her two daughters, had been available via the online retailer's US site until an investigation by the Belfast Telegraph drew attention to it yesterday.

One website review of the PC game describes "tears glistening in the young girl's eyes" as she is attacked in graphic detail.

In the game, players begin stalking a mother on a subway station before violently raping her. They then move on to attack her two daughters, described as virgin schoolgirls.

Perhaps the saddest part: Getting rid of this *one* game is like killing one cockroach. Yeah, you've gotten rid of one, but you know there's a lot more where that came from.

* HT for the meme: Mark Shea

Baby Steps in the Right Direction for Our Uber-Corrupt State

I've written previously on this here weblog that the ubiquitous appearance of names of elected office bigwigs on publicly financed signage is something I took notice of when I first moved to Chicago in 1996.

One hopes those days are numbered:

Now that Rod Blagojevich's name has been removed from Illinois Tollway signs, some state lawmakers want to make it harder for other sign-happy politicians to plaster their monikers everywhere.

An Illinois House committee has voted 17-0 to bar statewide officials from slapping their names on signs and billboards paid for with state money.

Read the whole thing.

Friday, February 13, 2009

In Sixteen Hundred and Ninety-Two

On this side of the Atlantic, the year 1692 saw the beginning of the Salem witch trials.

On the other side of the Atlantic, on this day of that same year, the Massacre of Glencoe occurred.

Remember that the next time you hear someone talk about the so-called Glorious Revolution.

[HT: Sean Dailey at The Blue Boar]

Monday, February 9, 2009

Don't Be a Chumbolone

John Kass, writing in yesterday's Chicago Tribune:

The Tribune has commissioned a new poll asking taxpayers whether they support Mayor Richard Daley's 2016 Olympic dream.

But the pollsters didn't call me, so I conducted my own poll on the cheap, while shaving.

Just look at yourself in the mirror, while trying to shave that stubborn stubble from under your nose, and ponder whether it's smart to give the Daley gang billions of dollars to run the Olympics. There's only one question in the Kass poll. Just ask yourself:

"Does wanting the Olympics in Chicago make me a big chumbolone?"

"Chumbolone" is the immortal term uttered by corrupt Chicago cop Anthony Doyle, convicted of being a messenger boy for imprisoned Chicago mob bosses in the Family Secrets trial. In those prison visits, he insisted he didn't hear anything. All he did was nod when the boss was talking, over and over, nodding like some Chinatown-crew bobblehead doll.

"I didn't know what he was talking about," Doyle explained from the witness stand. "I don't wanna look like a chumbolone, an idiot, stupid."

And there you have it.

We want the glitzy Olympic party. But we think we won't have to pay for it. And when Mayor Fredo talks about his Olympic dream, we nod like chumbolones.

For almost two decades now, Daley has run the city and Cook County. His administration is an encyclopedia of corruption and insider deals for friends and family.

He'd drink with white guys with Outfit connections every Christmas Eve, guys who received $100 million in affirmative-action contracts from his administration, and he didn't know how it happened.

As of Sunday, it has been 1,615 days since the mayor promised he'd find out who promoted ex-gangbanger Angelo Torres to run his scandal-plagued Hired Truck program that cost taxpayers at least $40 million. We're still waiting.

There are so many such deals that counting them would be like trying to count the flies on a chunk of liver sausage in an alley in July. All this on his watch. Just imagine what he'll do with all that Olympic gold.

These days, corruption is important again, since the former governor, Mr. Dead Meat, got busted for trying to sell President Obama's Senate seat. But when will we realize that the governor of Illinois—no matter who sits in the chair—is just a measly nose hair compared to the boss of Chicago?

Read the whole thing. And don't be a chumbolone.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

25 Things Pertaining to, about, Or Otherwise Concerning Me

Well, because of the ironclad Someone On Facebook Tagged Me rule, I'm now obliged to list 25 things about myself.

That said:

1. When I was a kid, I had a terrible stuttering problem, such that I had to ride the short bus twice a week from the Catholic school I attended to a nearby public school, where I took speech therapy.

2. My wife, Jocelyn -- who is the most beautiful woman in the world -- and I have four kids, and we're expecting our fifth in April. When people ask us how many children we want, we honestly tell them we don't know, but that we have no plans to stop any time soon.

3. It greatly bothers me when people throw things away that could be recycled.

4. I rarely go out to eat, but when I do, I believe it's critically important to tip at least 20%.

5. I think it's terribly rude to not say, "Thank you" to a server when he brings you your food at a restaurant.

6. I enjoy long, impassioned discussions about things that many other people would consider not worth arguing about.

7. I am probably the only person I know who is a fan of the Tridentine Mass (the "old" Latin Mass), and who doesn't mind a polka Mass. (Truth be told, I've only been to a polka Mass once in my life, but I rather liked it.)

8. I'm of the opinion that cluttering up people's inboxes with forwarded e-mails is one of the most annoying things a person can do.

9. I took a sick day from work on December 2, 2003, and before that, the last time I missed a day of school or work due to sickness prior to that was when I was in sixth grade (1989-1990). Since 12/2/03, I have taken only one sick day for myself, on October 17, 2008, when I had pink eye, although I would contend that that day would require a Roger Maris-like asterisk placed next to it, as Jocelyn was on her fifth straight day of being sick with a bad case of pneumonia, so I probably would have stayed home that day anyway to take care for her and watch our kids.

10. Although I've never lived in New York City myself, I've been there three times, and find the city utterly fascinating.

11. For many of the past eight winters, I've grown a beard, mostly because I like not having to worry about taking the time to shave in the morning.

12. I once ate a Pop Tart whose outside wrapper had been opened for at least a month. Before eating it, I said, a la Homer Simpson, "Mmmmmm.....month-old Pop Tart...aaaaaagggggghhhhhhh." Believe it or not, it tasted no different than a Pop Tart that had just been opened a few seconds earlier. Can you imagine how many preservatives must be in one of those things? (It might also be worth noting that I've not eaten a Pop Tart since.)

13. I'm a big fan of musicals. Among my favorites are "The Music Man", "Guys & Dolls", "Anything Goes", and "Fiddler on the Roof" (the last three of which I've had parts in productions thereof).

14. I think putting cry rooms in churches is an extraordinarily stupid idea.

15. I started drinking coffee when I started student-teaching, during my senior year of college. Every teacher I had in grade school and high school, as far as I can remember, drank coffee, so I figured all teachers probably did. In turn, I figured I'd better start. I hated it at first -- probably because I started on instant -- but I soon grew to like it. Now I love coffee, and drink 3-4 cups a day.

16. Most of the clothes I wear I've either received as gifts, or else I've bought at thrift stores. Some of my clothes I've had since high school, and at least one shirt I still wear I've had since 8th grade.

17. I have strongly held opinions on parenting, but when I talk to new or prospective parents, I always try to avoid giving parenting advice, preferring instead to tell them that if they'd like our advice, we'd be happy to give it if they'd like it. (This is largely because when Jocelyn and I were expecting Teresa, our first child, not a few people gave us entirely unsolicited advice -- most of which we didn't agree with. This, I thought, was terribly intrusive.)

18. I try to use archaic words whenever possible (e.g., "motorcar" instead of "car"; "aeroplane" instead of "airplane"; "constable" instead of "policeman" -- well, you get the idea).

19. I tend to admire people who are cynical toward most of the other members of their professions. This is most evident, I think, in my attitude toward doctors. If I (or more likely, somebody else in our family, per #9) get sick, I don't want to go to some AMA lackey who managed to not fail out of medical school; I want to go to someone who realizes that medicine is about treating not just the body, but the whole human person.

20. I have a shrew-like metabolism, and I like to eat (or at least don't mind eating) just about anything -- with one of few exceptions being eggplant.

21. I once came up with a theory that if a white guy was born in the 1970s, and if he was a geek during high school, then during those same high school years, it's a near certainty that he also had a fanatical devotion to one of three bands: Rush, Yes, or Jethro Tull. (I later added Pink Floyd as a fourth possibility, per the suggestion of my co-worker Matt Yonke.)

My fanatical devotion during high school was to Rush.

22. When I ride my bike to work -- which I frequently like to do during the spring, summer, and fall months -- the 12-mile commute often takes less time than it does on days when I drive.

23. My favorite writer is G.K. Chesterton.

24. At one time in my life, shortly after I started college, I believed that "overpopulation" posed a serious problem for the world, and had doubts about the Catholic Church's teaching against contraception. When I discovered that overpopulation, um, wasn't a problem, that prompted me to learn more about the Church's teachings on sexuality.

The wisdom in the Church's teachings blew me away. Not long thereafter, I began taking my faith more seriously, and for the first time in my life, I started going to confession regularly. I shudder to think at what my life would be like now, had I not come to that turning point.

25. For the past (almost) nine years since graduating from college, I've worked with teenagers -- for four years as a high school teacher, and for the past four+ as the co-director of a pro-life youth outreach. I love working with teenagers, and I hope I can continue doing so for a long time.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Is It a Good Idea for a Couple to Have 18 Kids?

Seven weeks ago, the now famous Duggar family welcomed the birth of their 18th child.

The next day, a college friend of mine asked me what my take was on said birth.

My short answer: God bless 'em.

I wanted to write more than just this, but hadn't the time.

Now, however, I do.

It seems to me that the question really being asked here—not just by my friend, I suspect, but also countless others—is:

Is it a good idea for a couple to have 18 kids?

This, to my mind, is the wrong to question to ask (or, at least the wrong question to ask first).

Rather, the question to ask is:

Is a given married couple following God's will?

This question can be answered only by 3 people:

1. God
2. Husband
3. Wife

Well, five, really, since God is actually Three Persons, but I digress.

I have exactly no competence to diagnose whether a given married couple (be they the Duggars, or the parents of a guy I used to work with—who had 21 children—or the couple I see at the park who have one child) is following God's will in determining how many children they should have.

Heck, I have enough trouble discerning if I'm following God's will, much less trying to figure out if other people are.

On the contrary, acting in good faith, I can only assume that they are.

Of course, when it comes to morally licit options for planning a family, contraception is right out. (**Shameless plug follows**
And, as it happens, I was recently asked by Sunnyday, one of my e-friends in the Philippines, to speak to the question, "Will contraceptive use make parents more responsible?" in a Filipino parenting magazine. I did so here [PDF].)

Another point to make is that the Duggars endorse the Quiverfull movement (sometimes colloquially referred to as "providentialism"), which teaches that natural family planning is, for all intents and purposes, tantamount to contraception. On its face, such a notion is untenable.

But again, for a given married couple, the decision of whether they could or should use NFP to space pregnancies is up to them to determine—with God's help, natch.

On this topic, a Catholic friend of mine told me not long ago that in the course of an online discussion with other Catholic women about NFP, someone tried to convince the group that it was necessary for a couple to get their bishop's permission before they could use NFP.

When my friend told me that, I had a sudden urge to run to the nearest wall and start banging my head against it in sheer frustration that there could be such profound misunderstanding of what the Church really teaches about when a couple can use NFP.

Christopher West speaks to this topic more extensively in an article entitled "God, Sex, and Babies: What the Church Really Teaches about Responsible Parenthood". And, the uber-intelligent Dr. Janet Smith offers a lengthier, more scholarly treatment of this issue in an essay entitled "Moral Use of Natural Family Planning" [PDF].

All this is to say that while QuiverFull is based on a false belief (i.e., that natural family planning is incompatible with God's will), it is also most emphatically not true to say that a given couple who elects not to "use" NFP within their own marriage is acting irresponsibly by foregoing consultation of charts and thermometers—and by so doing, end up giving birth to 18, or 21, or [insert number here] children.

So, once again, my three word comment on the Duggars' welcoming their 18th child:

God bless 'em.

And indeed, He has.