Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chicago City Council Committee Votes to Choke Free Speech

I'm still waiting on details, but I just found out from one of our attorneys that the Chicago City Council's Human Relations Committee passed a "bubble zone" ordinance this morning.

Now it goes to the full City Council next Wednesday. If it passes there, we'll sue.

Here's more background from our press release this morning:

Members of the Pro-Life Action League and attorneys from the Thomas More Society will attend the Human Relations Committee meeting of the Chicago City Council TODAY at 9:00 AM Wednesday, Sept. 30. The Committee is considering an amendment to the Municipal Code to prohibit picketing within 50 feet of any medical clinic. These organizations strongly suspect this amendment is aimed at preventing pro-life people from praying and reaching out to clients of abortion facilities with information on alternatives to abortion.

Pro-life activists routinely stand on the public sidewalk at the entrances to abortion clinics in Chicago to offer information to anyone seeking services at the abortion clinics. The groups know of no incidents of intimidation, harassment or threats as referred to in the amendment introduced on Sept. 9 by Alderman Vi Daley (43rd Ward).

Both the Thomas More Society attorneys and the Pro-Life Action League contend that the amendment is unconstitutional.

Note that the IOC makes its decision in two days. If the city council is taking measures like this now, one can only imagine what sorts of tricks they'll try to pull — under the guise of ensuring "safety" and "security", natch — to restrict demonstrations near Olympic venues come 2016.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Back Protest the Bid

So I find out yesterday that an anti-Olympics rally is to take place at 5:30 this afternoon outside City Hall. Family obligations being what they are, I regret that I shan't be able to attend. But I have a feeling many, many will.

Of course there are lots of famous (and famously wealthy) people who Back the Bid, but I can't honestly recall talking to another human being in real life who hopes Chicago gets the nod three days hence.

One thing I noticed when looking at the list of sponsors of tonight's rally (including, but not limited to, groups like Green Party Chicago, Chicago Answer, and the International Socialist Organization) is something I've noticed several times before regarding opposition to the Olympics in Chicago: it consists of a broad coalition of folks, and is one of the best examples in recent memory of a truly populist cause.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oh. My. Goodness.


Because, you know, it "would harm Chicago's chances" might prevent a small number of people from becoming really rich.

[HT: Matt Yonke]

"Even Jesus Hates You"

There has been much written in the pro-life blogosphere of late about the diabolical character of the Northern Illinois Women's Center abortion facility in Rockford, Illinois.

Just last week, the Catholic League sent a letter to the city's legal director asking that he take "appropriate action against the Center to put an end to such needless provocation" regarding a poster displayed in the center's window depicting Jesus showing His middle finger, and with the inscription "Even Jesus Hates You" below it. (The next day, the office ordered that the poster be removed.)

I know one of the pro-lifers who regularly prays outside this abortion clinic, and I happened to talk to him a few months ago. Almost anticipating what I was thinking, he told me that a lot of people tell him they would never want to pray outside an abortion clinic like this, where the evil is so palpable.

On the contrary, he said he'd rather pray outside a place like this rather than, say, the $7 million "Abortion Fortress" of Aurora — some 70 miles away — whose outside appearance completely masks the evil within (not unlike a "whitewashed tomb").

He told me, "When you see a rubber chicken on a crucifix, it makes you want to pray harder."

I hadn't thought of it that way.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hosting the Olympics = A Boon for Tourism?

Mmmm...not so much:

The dampening effect the games have on host-city—and host-nation—tourism in the periods before and after the big event (not to mention the shut-down-city effect during) has been cited by numerous observers. Officials at Atlanta's Fernbank Museum of Natural History and the Atlanta Botanical Garden, for example, say they had significant declines in attendance for 1996, the year of the Atlanta games. The slump is usually presented as a bump in the road to the gloriously increased tourism that's sure to be the games' lasting legacy. But some of the folks who study this stuff, including Mark Rosentraub, a professor of sport management at the University of Michigan, call that a fantasy. Rosentraub says the Olympics is "a good thing to do" if you manage it properly and don't build a lot of infrastructure. But it's not going to have a long-term impact on the host city's economy, and "there's no evidence that it results in a sustained increase in tourism."

A fascinating read on this subject is the Olympic Report [PDF] by the European Tour Operators Association (2006, updated in 2008), which came to the conclusion that "there appears to be little evidence of any benefit to tourism of hosting an Olympic Games, and considerable evidence of damage."

Read the whole thing.

[HT: The Dutchman]

Monday, September 21, 2009

One of the Best. Paintings. Ever.

In honor of today, the feast of St. Matthew, behold Caravaggio's The Calling 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 17, 2009

I Defy Anyone watch this and not be moved:

Background on Team Hoyt here.

[HT: Rick at Catholic Dads]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Case Study in the Two Phases of History

This Globe and Mail article about sex-selection abortions in India serves as yet another reminder that Mark Shea was on to something when he identified the Two Phases of History.

The Two Phases of History, you may recall, are:

1. What could it hurt?
2. How could we have known?

From the article:

But $100 on the birth of a girl – or even $2,500 at her marriage – means nothing to the country's wealthiest families. And that is where the gender gulf is yawning most deeply. The richest neighbourhoods in the country – the wealthy farming areas of the Punjab, the middle-class areas of Mumbai and other cities, and here, the leafy neighbourhoods in the south of the capital – have the biggest gaps.

High-caste families in urban areas of the Punjab have just 300 girls for every 1,000 boys, researchers financed by Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) reported last year. In South Delhi, it's 832 girls born per 1,000 boys; in the state of Haryana, home to the high-tech hub of Gurgaon, it's 822. (In “normal” circumstances, demographers expect to find 950 to 1,000 girls born for every 1,000 boys).

Conventional wisdom has long held that as India develops – as more families struggle their way into the middle class, more girls go to school and more women join the work force – traditional ideas about the lesser value of girls will erode. The incentive to abort them would fall away.

Instead, the opposite has happened, and the reasons – and solutions – have government and activists stumped.

[HT: JivinJ]

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Life Saved

I'm reposting below this entry I posted one year ago:

Today, September 14, will always hold a special place in the hearts of Jocelyn and me.

On this day in 2002, we had our first save. (For those of you unfamiliar with sidewalk counseling, a "save" happens when a mother, just steps away from entering a clinic where she has an abortion scheduled, decides instead to choose life for her baby.)

This was an especially fitting date for this manifestation of God's infinite goodness, as September 14 is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross.

For several months, we had gone on Saturday morings to stand outside of an abortion clinic on Chicago's northwest side (which, incidentally, is to be the site of a 40 Days for Life prayer vigil starting next week) to join others in prayer for the abortion-bound mothers, and for the sidewalk counselors who speak to them to warn them of the dangers abortion poses to them personally.

On this particular day, we had just finished praying the rosary, and were about to head home. Just then, one of the veteran sidewalk counselors spoke a few words to an abortion-bound mom who had just arrived with another woman, and hastily called for Jocelyn and me to come over. Both women spoke only Spanish.

The sidewalk counselor knew only a few Spanish words, but knew that Jocelyn and I spoke more than she did. (Neither of us is fluent, to be sure, but I speak it better than I understand it, and Jocelyn understands it better than she speaks it, so between the two of us, we can communicate with someone who speaks only Spanish fairly well.)

I don't remember what I said to this woman -- her name was Blasa -- but it was clear that she did not want to have an abortion. All I remember is that we offered to bring her to a place where she could get real help (a pregnancy resource center just around the corner).

Just steps away from the abortion clinic entrance, it took less than a minute for Blasa to decide that she was going to keep her baby.

The Nun Run, Part 2

I wrote last month about my friend Alicia Torres' humdinger of an idea to collect pledge money for her participation in Chicago's Half Marathon, which will help pay off her student loans so she can enter religious life.

She ran the half marathon yesterday, and that afternoon the pamilya and I attended a party in her honor at the home of some friends of ours. One of the additional fundraisers at the party was a raffle for a vacation in Vail, for which Jocelyn asked if we could buy some tickets (for $5 apiece or 5 for $20). At those prices, and considering it was going to a good cause, how could we not choose the economically more viable latter option? And so we did.

We weren't able to stay long, and it wasn't until after we got home that (a) I saw that there had been a nice article (and accompanying video on the Tribune site) featuring Alicia's "Nun Run" in yesterday's Chicago Tribune, and (b) we got a call from our friends telling us we won the raffle!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

To the Surprise of Exactly No One, the Chicago City Council Backs the Bid

The first five words speak volumes:

Giving themselves a standing ovation, aldermen eagerly jumped onto Mayor Richard Daley's Olympics bandwagon Wednesday, unanimously approving a measure that places the responsibility for cost overruns on taxpayers if Chicago hosts the 2016 Summer Games.

What a bunch of utterly shameless sycophants, the lot of them.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Breastfeeding in a Pornified Culture

"I just don't think it's proper for women to show their breasts out in public unless they're on the beach."

So said some middle-aged guy who happened upon a group of mothers taking part in a "nurse-in" in Lincoln Square Plaza last Friday in support of a fellow breastfeeding mom who was harassed (sadly, by another mom) earlier in the week.

On the one hand, this guy's comments are boorish, obnoxious, and stupid.

But on the other hand, I have to give him credit for being so up-front about his "issue" with nursing. I've heard not a few times from my beloved wife that people have told her they're "uncomfortable" with her nursing in public, but invariably the objectors fail to subsequently explain why, precisely, it disrupts their comfort level.

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, due in no small part to the recommendations of a 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 as sexual, which is surely the norm in our pornified culture.

In essence, then, to the modern mind, whose perspective our boorish commenter articulates to a T, 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.

[HT: R.M. Schultz via Carrie W.]

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

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

As September 5th was the twelfth anniversary of the death of Blessed Mother Teresa, I'm reposting here this entry I originally posted on that date two years ago:

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 Pope 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.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Two Powerful Commercials

A couple months ago, whilst manning a display booth for the Pro-Life Action League at an event at St. John Cantius, I ran into a fellow from the Archdiocese of Chicago's Office of Evangelization, who mentioned that his office was preparing to implement the Catholics Come Home campaign.

I had heard only good things about CCH, so I was really glad to hear that. Now I find out via Mr. H. at All Hands on Deck! that the first phase of the program will include airing a series of commercials on local TV stations in December and January.

Their best known — and amazingly cool — ad, "Epic" is here:

Also excellent is another one called "Movie":

Thursday, September 3, 2009


(HT: Mark Shea via Matt Yonke)

This video reminds me of a joke:

What did the Calvinist say after he fell down the stairs?

"I'm glad I got that over with."