Today’s Blorging: When You Get Called a Hater Because You Oppose Same Sex Unions

The Calling of St. Matthew by Hendrick ter Bruggen

In which we explore the root of the hating action all around:

Want to give up TV fast?  Forget worrying about foul language or sex scenes.  Try watching only programs that glorify kindness, respect, and forgiveness.  Insult-flinging is the new blood sport.  There are whole genres that consist of nothing but showing people how terribly, terribly wrong they are, and thus deserving of mockery.

Not exactly a surprise that people are a tad paranoid, on a diet of that. The solution to the hate-charge is pretty straightforward.  1) Head on straight.  2) Don’t hate.  3) Gospel gospel gospel.  Read the whole thing here.

Effort & Illness: The Confusing Habits of Sick People

Since I surround myself with people who know better, no one’s yet given me the dreaded words You don’t look sick. Even people who do look sick often don’t look as bad as they feel*.  As Jen Fulwiler explained it last year:

I feel self-conscious that I’ve been doing better, and have no visible symptoms of being ill. . . . I worry that the folks dropping off the food are starting to suspect this is some kind of scam. The other day a super sweet lady from the parish came by with a steaming gourmet dinner for our entire family, complete with appetizers and dessert. I had just gotten back from a doctor’s appointment so I was dressed up and wearing makeup; I’d been resting most of the day so I was unusually energetic. She seemed tired from having worked so hard to cook for our entire family in addition to her own, and I used my Neurotic ESP to determine that she was wondering why I wasn’t cooking for her.

I told Joe that I should get some crutches for when I answer the door for people delivering meals, as a symbolic gesture to assure them that their efforts were not wasted. He looked at me like I was insane, and pointed out the obvious fact that my problem is with my lungs and that I would have no use for crutches under any circumstances. I said that I know, but they sell them at the grocery store, and I didn’t know where to get my hands on a ventilator — and, again, it’s all for symbolism anyway. He backed away from me slowly and went to pour himself a large glass of wine.

Yes.  This. I put a short section in my catechist book on invisible disabilities, because it’s something that comes up in religious ed more often than you’d think.  Mostly among catechists, but among students as well.  That one chapter is the one I get the most thank you letters about.

You can be seriously ill without being 100% incapacitated.

It’s pretty rare for someone to be completely felled in a single blow.  This causes confusion, because you see people wandering WalMart who look like they’re going to collapse any second now.  So if your sick person still has good balance and coordination, and manages to answer the phone in a cheerful manner, you think, “Must not be that sick.  There are people at WalMart who look much, much worse.”

The people at WalMart might be worse.  But that doesn’t cause the sick person to be less sick.

Some people are good at putting on.

I knew a lady once who would answer the phone cheerfully even if you woke her up at 4AM.  It wasn’t that she wanted you to call then.  She just had excessively good phone manners.  And thus the Perceived Illness Paradox: Some people complain a lot, other people don’t.  Some people are good at masking their symptoms, other people aren’t.  Some people are good at coming up with clever work-arounds that keep them high-functioning, other people aren’t.  You really can’t judge how someone feels inside by how they’re acting outside.

Rest makes a difference.

Anyone who races knows you manage your training schedule so that you peak when it counts.  There are days when you can ride hard and fast, no problem, and days when you can’t.  Depends on how much sleep you got.  What you did the day before.  What you did the week before.

Illness doesn’t change that, it just changes the scale.

Figuring out an unpredictable body is exhausting.

Normal people spend most of their time operating well within the margins of their abilities.  If you knew you had to ride 100 miles on your bike sometime soon, you’d have to plan ahead to make sure you could do it.  You’d strategize how to make it happen with as little trouble as possible.  But you wouldn’t feel the least bit of guilt if you misjudged: “Wow, that was easier than I thought it would be, why did I make such a big deal out of it?”  Or conversely, “I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t realize how hard!”

Sick people have to figure out the 100-mile ride about everything they do . . . and then get in trouble if they misjudge.  “Why’d you spend half an hour answering e-mails? You should have rested up so you could talk to your mother on the phone!”  Or “Why’d you put off that phone call, look, you talked for twenty minutes, no problem!”

It’ll make you bonkers.  You hear the mail truck go by, and you think to yourself, “Should I walk to the mailbox?  Or get a kid to do it for me?  What’s the best thing here? How will this decision impact my family life?”

What you like is easier than what you don’t like.

Sick people are confusing because their gifts don’t go away.  Okay, if your gift is watching football on TV, everyone will think, “Look he spends all day watching football games, he must be sick.”  But what is hard for you is effortless for someone else. What is easy — even fun — for you is difficult for someone else.  It’s not about the sheer physical energy required.  It’s the mental energy.

So my son might say to my daughter, “I see you have plenty of time for scrapbooking.  Why don’t you research computer components?  What’s wrong with you?  Just lazy, I see.”  And she’d point out to him that he received a photo album for Christmas, and he’s supposed to put his photos in it.  He had time to build a computer, and even more time for playing computer games . . . why so lazy with the photo album?

Everything costs.

There’s service to your fellow man, and then there’s letting your fellow man turn you into his servant. We live in a hyper-critical age.  What you wear, what you eat, what your hobbies are, how you spend your money — all of it is subject to the approval of seven billion self-appointed guardians.  That doesn’t change when you’re sick, it just becomes harder to please the seven billion, because you’ve got less to please them with.

Normal people might say, for example, “Is it worth it for me to give up an hour of my time to visit my crotchety uncle who invited me for dinner tonight?”  When you’re sick the question becomes, “Is it worth it for me to set aside an entire afternoon to rest, and give up getting any chores done, at all, the entire day, so that I can physically pull off the feat of visiting my uncle for an hour?”

In normal life, a dysfunctional friend is the one who makes inordinate demands on your time and energy.  In sick life, everything is an inordinate demand.  But some of those demands are very gratifying, so you organize your life to make them possible. The chief sin of sick people, I suspect, is in gratifying too many whims.

Order in all things.

Sick people are confusing because of the scale change.  With so little room for covering-over, it becomes obvious what the sick person values most.  It becomes obvious where the conflicts lie, because there’s no margin where you can quick slip in a nod towards other people’s priorities.  As in academia, the rivalries can be so bitter because the stakes are so small.  “Just a few minutes of your time” is now also, “all your time”.  How are you going to spend all that time? The way you want?  The way I want? Something in between?

The Darwins have a novena started on just this question.

*Sometimes things look so bad that you assume the other way, “It’s not as bad as it looks, I hope?”  To which I’ll observe: A badly scraped knee looks horrible.  But it feels even worse.

Conscience Protection Protects Everyone

Rebecca Hamilton reports on the AZ bill allowing businesses to refuse customers based on religious grounds.  I haven’t seen the bill either, so I don’t have an opinion on whether it is a good one. But the idea — that a person should not be required to do something they think is wrong — I like that idea.

Some people would go so far as to say it’s such a good idea it ought to be in our Constitution.

***

The trouble we’re having with these laws is that no one is testing the courts in all the possible directions.  What we need to do is start an onslaught on the printing companies.

  • Find a printing press owned by an ardently pro-choice feminist.  Place an order for bunches of anti-abortion propaganda.
  • Find a printing press owned by an openly gay couple.  Place an order for bunches of pro-traditional-marriage tracts.

When the tables are turned: Shouldn’t the business owner have the right to decline?  I think so.  I think it so profoundly that I’m not sure I could bring myself to place the test-order.  Who would do that?  If you care about someone, would you really put them in that position?

If I did it accidentally, I’d apologize and quietly take my business elsewhere.  What kind of person *wants* to make another person miserable?  Not me.

This decency is killing us. We’re too nice for own good, and we have an empty slate of court cases to prove it. Because the “anti-discrimination” cases are all running in a single direction, today, everyone thinks that “conscience protection” is all about right wing religious extremists wanting to discriminate against innocents.

No.  Just no.  Conscience protection is about everyone being free to refrain from actions that violate their conscience.

***

The one trouble with conscience protection is that it eventually reaches a wall.  As a society we have a fundamental morality, a firm set of non-negotiable beliefs.  Americans believe (rightly) that discrimination based on race is wrong. It’s a non-negotiable.  If you want to have a business that serves the general public, you can’t pick your clients based on race.  That is a fundamental moral law that Americans have (rightly) adopted.

The battle in our courts and in our legistures right now is not, therefore, fundamentally about “freedom of belief”.  If we truly thought that people were free to have any number of opinions about abortion, or contraception, or the nature of marriage, we would not have these cases. The Bill of Rights would suffice, end of story.

What is being fought, now, is a battle over what our national morality will be.  “You must believe that contraception is morally acceptable.”  That’s what’s at stake. “You must believe that marriage is not the sole province of one man and one woman.”  That’s what’s being fought.

This is evil.

 

August 1 Rally for Religious Freedom at the White House, 11AM

If you’re in the DC area and didn’t get this in your inbox already, latest on the rally for religious freedom at the White House:
logo_R1 Women Speak
Greetings Jennifer,

We’ve had a huge response to our call for an August 1 demonstration by WSFT. So it’s a GO.

We have a permit from the Park Service: 11:30-12:30 Lafayette Park, Washington DC, Pennsylvania Ave. at 16th, (In front of the White House!! yea!). Can start assembling around 11:00.
We’ve ordered about 60 signs. Will need you to bring your own too though! About 3′x3′ or 2′x 3′, and NOT on sticks please.
Some possible slogans?
  • Women For Religious Freedom
  • Women Against the HHS Contraception and Abortion Mandate
  • Women can Speak for Themselves !! [Pelosi/Sebelius, etc.....]
… and others dreamed up by your fertile brains. Try to keep them short, punchy, and positive!
I probably have 75-100 women coming now. Would be great to have about 50 more!
In the spirit of WSFT, I will need you to arrange to get yourselves there and home please.  I don’t have a spare minute to arrange for proper drop off and pick up spots or other transportation. I’m so sorry but I just can’t….
But WSFT will organize marshals, first aid, water and a series of two minute speeches, by our members.
I have some speakers. FOR SPEAKERS, YOU WILL HAVE A BULLHORN, NOT A MIC, and are limited to two minutes each please.
I could use few more speakers who work at religious institutions but want them to be free to choose insurance coverage that respects their religious integrity.
After the rally, there is the possibility that we could go to the Capitol Visitors Center and meet some female staffers or Representatives. We are working on this. We would need to cab to the Capitol, 16 blocks away.
Finally, I am working on personal meetings with Biden and Sebelius staff to present our current total of signatures, I’ll keep you apprised.

Speaking of Curiosity: DC Area Anti-HHS Demonstration August 1

Curiosity‘s coming.  Meanwhile, passing a quick note from Helen Alvare, in case any of y’all will be in the DC area on August 1:
logo_R1 Women Speak
Hello Jennifer:It’s time to make some intelligent noise here in DC, across the street from the White House.

Women Speak for Themselves has obtained a permit to occupy the famous Lafayette Park, August 1 (yes, in three weeks…), in order to speak out against the HHS Mandate imposing contraception and early abortion insurance upon religious institutions and individuals.

I know the deadline for the mandate has been extended to January 1, 2014. But it’s Summertime, and many of us have the flexibility to spend a day (the former deadline day) here in DC at a brief (one hour) rally, from 11:30-12:30 pm.

We will do several things:

1. Carry signs and hear a series of brief (2 minute) speeches against the Mandate. I assume these will have two themes, corresponding to the different women we have in our group: a) that women care for religious freedom…its loss will have real consequences for us! And b) that many women are uncomfortable or worse with government pushing the simplistic and often harmful agenda that contraception is the pinnacle of women’s freedom and equality.

2. TELL THE PRESS IN ADVANCE TO COME SEE THAT MANY WOMEN CONTEST THE CLAIM OF SOME WOMEN (Rep. Pelosi, Secretary Sebelius) TO SPEAK FOR ALL WOMEN.

3. Speak to any members of the public/DC tourists who walk by and give them our letter.

4. Walk a contingent over to HHS and/or V.P. Biden’s (America’s most highly placed Catholic!!) office (I’m trying to secure appointments with both offices), and deliver our nearly 41,000 signatures.

So usually I am asking you to do LOCAL stuff.  This time, I want you to come to D.C. if you can.

I only need about 150-200 women, because that’s what I told the Park Service.

But I REALLY need you!

I also need:

1. Hand-made signs (We will have some printed in advance,…but we need more). Nothing on sticks; it’s forbidden.  I will send suggested messages if you want to use them,  later in July.

2. I NEED A NURSE WHO CAN DO FIRST AID AT THE RALLY (Park Service requires)3. I need about 15 women to give two-minute testimonies re either topic pertaining to the mandate. Email me if you would like to. I would need to see them in advance please!

4. A volunteer to video so we can put on our website.

5.  Women ready to chat with any reporters in advance or during.

6.  Five women who will “marshall,” i.e. help keep crowd orderly and know what to do in case of quick evacuation.

I’m trying to keep this “simple” but effective, intelligent, FEMALE and press-worthy.
Will you help?

In hope,
Helen

http://womenspeakforthemselves.com/
https://www.facebook.com/WomenSpeakForThemselves
https://twitter.com/womenspeak2012

RSVP to one of the links above if you can make it.  (I can’t.  But don’t let that stop you.)

BADD 2013 + Theology of the Body for Every Body

Theology of the Body for Every BodyIt’s BADD time again, May 1.  Of course I forgot, again, even though I knew it was coming up.  But look, over at New Evangelizers, I reviewed Theology of the Body for Everybody. Which hits on exactly this topic. The whole living-in-a-body experience we human persons get to enjoy.  Go look.

***

Blogging Against Disablism Day And now you’re back, and here is my annual BADD comment, 2013 Edition:

People don’t want to be treated like dirt.

Profound, I know.  (Hence Leah Perrault’s whole book on the topic.  See “book review” above.)

When you read around at crotchety disability-rights sites, there’s a lot of conversation about how to think about disability.  Something that confuses bystanders is the insistence that it’s not about the medical condition.

Which puzzles, for several reasons.  The first is the happy-sad problem.  Given the choice between hearing and not-hearing, seeing and not-seeing, walking and not-walking, everything else equal, we go for the ability every time.

Now someone might say, “I’m so glad I had this stroke, because it caused me to learn so much about __{insert profound revelation here}__.”  And what they mean is typically not, “I always wanted to know what it was like to slur my speech!”

Rather, the “I’m so glad” is usually code for, “I discovered there was this whole part of my life I’d been ignoring, and now I’ve grown in ways that matter far more than any physical ability, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”  People say that, and they mean it.  For good reason.  But still, if they could have the spiritual growth and the ability to remember words on command, yeah, they’d take both.  Nothing wrong with being able to talk.  We know this, instinctively.

But here’s the other thing we know instinctively: Humans deserve to be treated with respect.  And the disrespect of disablism falls into two big lumps:

1. Can’t be bothered to have you around.  Too much work.  So terribly haaaaaarrrd to put in a ramp.  So coooooomplicated trying to have one Mass, anywhere in the diocese, ever, with an ASL interpreter.  So very, very overwhelming, having to change the seating arrangement, or modify the assignment, or find one more volunteer to assist the kid who needs assistance.

The message is pretty clear: It’s not that we don’t love you.  We just don’t love you enough to go through any inconvenience for you.

2. Your kind of suffering is not my kind of suffering. This is straight out of the eugenics playbook.  It’s no surprise that the recent fashion for killing off disabled children before they see light of day is always couched in terms of “avoiding suffering”.  Better to be dead than to be you.

The feeling may well be mutual, but that’s no solution.  The solution is to quit being such a wimp.  To quit dividing the Fates of Man into a two-part list, labeled Normal Problems and Pitiful Freaks.  This isn’t 1930.  Get over that nasty notion that you must be ranked among The Fit in order to deserve life and respect.

***

And since BADD is the annual day for airing our pet peeves, I’ll share one with you: If you never really appreciated your kid-job-marriage-finger-toe-brain until it was gone . . . could you keep it to yourself? Or just let everyone know you have a gratitude-deficiency-disorder. I guess I could cultivate some compassion for that.

See all the BADD entries, which are by no means Catholic nor genteel, here.

April 8th HHS Contraceptive Mandate Comment Period Closes

Go here to leave a comment. Go ahead and do it right now, then you can come back to read my ranty-rant if you like.

Either you believe in women’s liberation or you don’t.  Do you believe that mentally competent, grown women are capable of making their own purchases?

Then require employers to pay us a living wage, and let us make our own purchases.

Women don’t need men at the office, men in Congress, or men at the HHS to force us to spend our wages on this pill or that surgery.  And we don’t need Mama making us buy stuff either.

We’re grown-ups.  Pay us fairly, and we’ll pick our own health insurance, thank you very much.

Book Review: Getting the Marriage Conversation Right

(There’s a book review coming at the bottom of this, but I need to lay out some preliminary matter first.  And this is a post concerning sex.  Not for children.)

To be Catholic is to be aware of a long list of my own faults.  Let’s review a few of them:  I goof off too much (not just on the internet, everywhere).  I lack patience for the most trivial of inconveniences.  When I’m irritated, I use my verbal powers for evil and not good.  I spend way too much money on myself, and far too little on the poor.  I procrastinate.  On any given day, there’s a decent chance I spent the time I meant to spend praying (not an exorbitant quantity) doing some other more entertaining and entirely optional thing.  For those who are familiar with the Little Flower, we could safely describe me as the Little Weed.  The anti-Therese.

And that’s just my public sins.  For every one you see on the kitchen floor, there’s a hundred more in the walls. If Therese is one of our few Doctors of Church, I’m guaranteed a spot among the vast number of Patients of the Church.

So be it.  Some people talk about so-called “Catholic Guilt”, and those people are invariably the ones who missed out — in whole or in part — on the real deal: Catholic Mercy.  If I don’t crumble in despair at the state of my soul  (and yes, actually despair is one of my sins as well), it’s because there’s hope for me.  Not hope that I’m going to wake up one morning suddenly meriting Heaven.  But because Someone Else has gone ahead and opened Heaven for me.  He loves me with His whole being, and will do anything — anything — to give me an shot at eternal happiness, mine only for the asking.  And not just me — He loves everybody that way.

My experience with evangelization is that few of us are converted because we suddenly discover how wretched we are, and thus desire to jump into the cosmic shower.  Quite the opposite: We long to know God, and having been drawn to Him, we begin to see, bit by bit, what life in Heaven looks like.  And what kind of baggage we’ll be leaving at the door when we get there.  Some things we drop like an old stinky garbage bag, in a flash of horrified understanding. Other things we keep stuffed in our pockets, sure they are part of us, or sure that these are little treasures we can sneak through eternal security . . . and it is only late in this life, or at the beginning of the next, that we catch on to the fact that, oops, we’ve been running around with the spiritual equivalent of a moldy rotten banana shoved in that coat pocket.

I’ve got rotten bananas in my pocket. (Usually only spiritually, though there was that one time I waited a month to clean out my tote bag . . . ick.)  But if your argument consists of, “Jen, you stink!” my response is, “Um, why yes, I do.”

I hate the topic of Gay Marriage.

Hate it.  Let me count the ways:

1) Because I know that the people who favor gay marriage do so for entirely understandable reasons.

2) Because I’m not an idiot.  I’ve known plenty of folks who favor same-sex unions, and who are, put simply, better people than me.  And they’re far and away better people than some of our rotten-to-the-core unrepentant clergy who’ve spent decades hiding despicable offenses.

3) The division concerning gay marriage doesn’t have its roots in questions about homosexuality.  For the last fifty years, the going cultural norm has been that whatever I desire, sexually, should be acted upon.  That marriage vows are no vow at all.  That children and marriage have nothing to do with one another.  That children have no particular need to be raised in a home with their mother and father.  That any parent-type figure will do just fine.

An aside: People have a hard time accepting that adopted children feel a genuine grief concerning their biological parents.  That very illusion — that your parents were unable to care for you, but hey, you have nothing to cry about — feeds into the destruction of marriage.  Something my dad said to me very plainly when he remarried after my mother’s death — I knew it, but he was absolutely right to lay it on the table  — was, “Your stepmother is not a replacement for your mother.”

It is a beautiful and wonderful thing when some loving person can step in and fill some portion of the blank left by the loss of loved one.  But it doesn’t erase the loss.  Acknowledging the loss makes it possible to delight in the sheer gift of this new and full and lively relationship, because we can accept it on its own terms, not pretend it is the other gift now gone.

4) A significant portion of the so-called Christian world doesn’t even acknowledge the horror of abortion.  An even larger chunk, including many people whose genuine faith in Christ I don’t doubt for a moment, think sterilization and contraception are AOK — desirable even.  And I don’t want to contemplate the numbers in the Church who approve or encourage the sin against purity we used to discreetly but emphatically call “self-abuse”.  Before you start citing the ancient Jewish law concerning homosexual acts, review the details concerning Onan, eh?  Struck dead on the spot?  Actions speak louder than words.  Disapproved.

5) I know that condemnation is the way of the world.  To ask for so-called “mercy” in the wider world is to heap condemnation upon yourself.  So I know that for many people dear to me, if I ever say, “Well, actually this one thing you’re doing is wrong,” those people I love will hear my words as code for, “Actually I hate you and I was just faking nice.”  Which isn’t true.  See my sins above — faking nice is not one of my virtues.

So to discuss gay marriage, at all, is to be accused of hatred.  I can discuss contraception, and people just think I’m a little daft.  I don’t mind that.  But I dislike the fact that to open this topic is to have a number of people I respect, admire, and count as friends, be tempted to assume the worst about me.  Well, the worst about me lies elsewhere.

[For the record: People hate you just as much if you talk about modesty in any specific terms.  Which I will be doing at NewEvangelizers.com in a couple weeks.  I'm racking up the voodoo rays this month.]

On to the Book Review

Getting the Marriage Conversation Right: A Guide for Effective Dialogue by William B. May is a short, readable booklet, written for a Catholic audience who wants to defend the sacrament of marriage, but suffer from poor rhetoric.  The assumption is that you the reader agree with the Catholic teaching, but perhaps you articulate it poorly.  You may even be currently basing your arguments on any number of details that simply aren’t Catholic.

Or you may be a Catholic who wants to follow Church teaching, but doesn’t understand why the bishops are so adamant about not allowing civil unions as a peaceful live-and-let-live alternative.

There is a single refrain that explains the disconnect between reality and popular culture.  The going definition of marriage in our society is this:

“Marriage is the public recognition of a committed relationship between two adults for their fulfillment”.

And let me observe right now: If this is your definition, it is logical to accept gay marriage.  Trouble being, that’s not what marriage is.  It is what civil marriage has become.  But it’s not what it is supposed to be.  Here’s the Real Ale definition of marriage, the one the Church is trying to defend, too little too late:

“Marriage unites a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union.”

This is the radical reality that animates the entirety of Christian thought on marriage and sexuality.  Each child has a need to be raised by his mother and father.

Sometimes bad things happen — death, or serious sins such as an abusive parent, or a rapist father — that make this need impossible to fulfill.  When that happens, we have no choice but to go with the next best thing, whether it be single parenting, or remarriage, or adoption.  The next best thing, in the context of a response to tragedy, becomes the very picture of self-giving love.  Anyone who steps into fill the void for a child who is unable to be reared by both his mother and his father?  A true hero.

We live in a fallen world, and marriage faces countless obstacles.  Getting the Marriage Conversation Right addresses each of these difficulties in turn, and explains how we are to understand a proper response to _______ problem.  The book repeatedly admonishes us to avoid the temptation to condemnation, and maintains a thoroughly Catholic — that is, merciful — response to the many problems that individuals may face.

No hate-spewing.  No tsk-tsking.  No “they deserve what they get”.  None of that.

Who Should Read This Book?

The audience is those who accept, or wish to more fully accept, Catholic teaching on the sanctity of marriage.  If you aren’t interested in being convinced, you won’t find this book convincing. It’s a book of explanations for why the Church teaches as she does, and how to effectively communicate that teaching to others.

The reading level is all-adults.  The tone is conversational and the word count is short and to-the-point.  This is an excellent resource for a parish study group.

Helpful for Outsiders?

If you are in favor of same-sex unions, will this book help you understand the other side?  A lot depends on your mentality.  This is an unabashed defense of the Catholic teaching, written by and for those who want to agree with it.  There is no effort to create, within the book, an apologetic geared towards the worthy opponent. Yes, if you read the booklet with a desire to understand, in the spirit of true dialogue, why people oppose same-sex unions, you will in fact learn why people oppose same-sex unions.

But if it’s going to make your blood boil to see anyone lay out a defense of a position you abhor, then yeah, it’s going to make your blood boil.  No way around it.

Summary: Good book.  Short, readable, gets straight to the heart of the matter.  This is the first title I’ve read on this topic, and it does a good job at what it does.  For those who oppose same-sex unions, but don’t really know why, or how to explain their position, this book makes a good start.

Boilerplate:This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Getting the Marriage Conversation Right. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.

Seven Takes: Life, Death, Warped Things Governments Do

No, I’m not back to regular blogging.  But I had approximately seven things to say, and it’s a Friday, so that makes this Seven Quick Takes, right?

1.  Why yes, that was us you saw at the National Vocations Meet-Up March for Life.

Low point:  Children in tears due to experience of being a southern-person whose mother does not know how to dress them for cold weather.

High point: Making a brief retreat into the National Gallery to go potty, rest, and warm-up, then re-emerging to a gentle made-for-TV snow flurry, taking up our signs, and falling into line with these guys.  Who sing beautifully.

Weird Point: The Metronome, as my 3rd-grader calls it, is determined not to take my money.  I kept trying to pay full fare, but the machines refused me at every turn. Fortunately the kind metro-ladies are apparently used to clueless tourists with five children in tow, and sorted me out with a combination of generosity and exasperation that I think must be the hallmark of the metro system.

2. Petersburg National Battlefield is a good place to run the kids and get your history fix all at once.  The ranger does come around checking to see if you’ve paid.

–> Touring tip:  Always ask if you’re supposed to pay.  Because they expect you to pay, even if they never ever tell you that.  And the ranger lady has a gun.  Luckily I had asked.

Discussion Question: Any Particular Reason the Union had to engage in war?  Why not just let the Confederacy secede, and work on patching things up diplomatically?  Put another way:  Did the US Civil War meet just war criteria for the Union?

My boy says yes.  I’m playing neutral professor-person.

In other US history topics: The essay “Smuggler Nation” in this month’s Harpers is really quite good. One more shovel of fodder for that pirates-vs.-privateers topic that’s always coming up around this household.

Our other airline-miles magazine subscription, Western Horseman ran a great piece a month or so ago on the troubles ranchers along the US-Mexican border are having with Mexican smugglers, and the lack of cooperation from some of the US border patrol in keeping their lands safe.  I can’t seem to find an article link.  But let me just say right now, that if you purchase approximately one plane ticket every five years, and want a family-friendly periodical to purchase with your miles before they expire, WH is the one.

3.  My son objects to the strong language in Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter Views the Body.  It pleases me greatly to discover I’ve reared a middle-schooler who complains about words like “damn” and “hell” improperly used.

4.  My January New Evangelizers column was 10 Ways to Support Evangelization Even When Your Parish is Falling Apart.

I picked this photo.

Apparently it grabbed someone’s attention, because the Catholic Vitamins people invited me to do an interview for their podcast.  Which is exciting, in an I-hope-my-phone-battery-doesn’t-die-while-we’re-talking kind of way.  I think I can bribe my kids into being quiet with the promise of Krispy Kreme donuts.  Also, presumably this is just one step on the long road towards true fame? By which I mean, of course, being on Rhett & Link’s Good Mythical Morning? My son doesn’t think I’ll ever be quite that good, but he puts on an encouraging face all the same.

5.  Helen Alvare nails it on the head in her analysis of the new HSS regulations.

Let me observe once again that there would be no moral objection at all if the government merely required employers to pay workers a sum sufficient to pay for the desired contraceptive services — for example, by putting the necessary funds into a healthcare savings account that employees could then use to purchase supplemental insurance if they so chose.

And how exactly is it “freedom of religion” if insurance companies and self-insurance administrators must sell (or give away, per the new iteration of regulations) products they may themselves object to?  Is there no legal right to sell insurance for some but not all health care services?  Will insurers eventually be required to pay for euthanasia as well?  Apparently there is a religious test required in order to enter the insurance industry.

6.  Speakin’ of that constitution thing . . . my boy observes that 2/3rds of gun deaths are suicides.  (Wikipedia’s citing 60%.) Which puts a certain corner of the culture in the odd position of wanting to outlaw something they’re trying to legalize.  Apparently depressed and disabled people should die, but only at the hands of licensed death-care providers?

If you aren’t from Gunlandia, you probably should not visit gunmemes.com. It takes a special red-state redness to enjoy.

7.  You know you live in a warped culture when you feel the need to clarify something like this: “For the record, I’m 100% opposed to all forms of murder and suicide.”

Ooh, oooh, want me to exasperate everybody in one single catechism quote? How about this one?  Enough to make everyone you know get all squirmy-wormy:

2269 The fifth commandment forbids doing anything with the intention of indirectly bringing about a person’s death. The moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing assistance to a person in danger.

The acceptance by human society of murderous famines, without efforts to remedy them, is a scandalous injustice and a grave offense. Those whose usurious and avaricious dealings lead to the hunger and death of their brethren in the human family indirectly commit homicide, which is imputable to them.70

Unintentional killing is not morally imputable. But one is not exonerated from grave offense if, without proportionate reasons, he has acted in a way that brings about someone’s death, even without the intention to do so.

Happy February.

3.5 Time Outs: Tigering

Thanks once again to our host Larry D. at Acts of the Apostasy, who is himself Mr. Thankful today, good guy that he is.

Click and be amazed.

1.

Yesterday the kids and I turned out at the parish gym to help get the St. Vincent de Paul boxes of Thanksgiving food put together.  It was our first time.  It’s a two-step operation, well-run, which is what happens when you have a ministry put into the hands of a large group of retired professionals.  We arrived during opening prayers; long tables were already set up with different food-category stations on each table, clearly labeled.  Green beans, corn, other vegetables, canned fruit, snacks, pasta, breakfast, cranberry sauce . . . etc.

In one corner was the haul of imperishables donated by the parish the previous day. Our first job was to grab bags of unsorted food and walk the tables, getting all our food to the proper piles.  Three big kids worked independently, with the occasional, “Mom, what is this?” question about mysterious food items.  My only rule was Please Do Not Pick a Bag With Glass Jars In It.

6-year-old and I worked as a team.  She was quite insistent about putting all the food from her bag up on the tables herself.  If I impulsively reached in to help her quickly get all her creamed soup cans shelved, she’d complain, and I’d have to let her put up one of my food items as compensation for her missed opportunity.

The second job was to get the freshly-organized foods into the baskets.  Our leader walked the aisles and estimated how many of each item we had, and thus how many could be put into each box.  Then each person or team was given a food product to distribute.  We were the Stuffing People.  Two boxes of stuffing in each of the hundred boxes.   Half-dozen Hispanic families had their boxes pulled aside, and our venerable Spanish Lady (a real live 80-something lady originally from Spain, with a brilliantly German last name) saw that all the salsa and tortillas went into those boxes.  Hint: If you are more of a salsa person than a weird-packets-of-instant-gravy person, if you ever need food relief, give the SVDP ladies a Spanish-sounding pseudonym.

2.

Tigering is the new verb around our house.

Tigering is what The Tiny Tiger does. All the time.

3.

What with the Groaning Ladies Show having come to season’s end, Sunday and last night we watched The Dust Bowl.  Good way to get your head on straight for Thanksgiving.

3.5

Fifi the resident cat does not care for the Tiny Tiger.  But she seems to be getting along with the young interloper better now that the Tiger has been taken on as the Chief Pot-Licker’s protege.  Last night during The Dust Bowl, all pots having been duly cleaned, they spent a full two hours rough-housing in the living room.

So the dog knows that the bunnies and chickens and the cat belong to us, and that the kitten is an orphaned puppy in need of a good upbringing.  She also knows that squirrels and voles are for hunting, but that SuperHusband will step in and take over when it comes to possums.  There was confusion the other week though, about what to do with the big fuzzy

***

Well, that’s all for this week.   Tuesday’s Link Day, which is when instead of e-mailing fun things I ought to post but forget to, you just tell the world all by yourself.  Entirely optional.  I’m pretty swamped with real life but I’ll try to post updates here as I work through my to-do list elsewhere on the internet. Have a great week.