Thursday, May 31, 2012

End Gendercide in the US! Planned Parenthood in New York City

...and today Democrats defeated a bill to outlaw sex-selective abortion, saying the problem does not exist!

How Social Security Depends on - and Penalizes - Childrearing

Ramesh Ponnuru has a good essay in National Review Online today on the ways in which social security both depends on the childrearing contribution to the system that parents make - a contribution-in-kind or tax-equivalent - and penalizes it.  He makes points similar to those I made in an article in Social Work in 1990 (Paul Adams, "Children as Contributions in Kind: Social Security and Family Policy," Social Work 35(6) (November 1990), pp. 492-97), but with updated research and some account of the effect of "family-friendly" policies.  The latter are supposed to make it easier to harmonize work and family, but as Neil Gilbert argues in his book, A Mother's Work: How Feminism, the Market, and Policy Shape Family Life, both "family-friendly" and "gender-neutralizing" policies adopt an approach of harmonizing by subordinating family to work.  (See my discussion on my blog about Sowell, Sandel, and Neil Gilbert for March 13, 2010.) 

Ponnuru says that prior to social insurance,  people depended on their children, both for labor and especially for security in old age.  A man's children were his social security.
They  needed children, especially, to avoid hunger and privation in old age. The bargain was simple: Parents take care of their children until they are able-bodied, and in return get taken care of by their children when they no longer are.
We still need to have children so that we can enjoy a secure old age. Modern societies have disguised the old bargain by socializing it. They maintain expensive government programs to assist the elderly, financed by successive generations. The children still take care of the elderly when they grow up, but now it’s all the children providing for all the elderly, collectively. 
In some ways this arrangement may represent an advance for civilization. Most people seem to think so. But it has a little-appreciated drawback: It imposes a heavy, if hidden, burden on parents, especially those with several children, and societies that adopt it therefore tend to have fewer children. For both moral and practical reasons, it is time to revise the generational bargain again.
We still depend, collectively, on the children we rear to productive adulthood for our security in old age or disability.  But we no longer depend on a culture of filial piety, sense of duty, or gratitude.  Instead the rather more reliable Federal payroll tax system ensures that the intergenerational transfer is made.  

Now, as individuals we no longer need to have children, with all the attendant costs of childrearing, in order to provide for our old age.  We just need others to do so.

The social security system depends on the contribution in kind made by parents in the form of childrearing, but it gives non-parents a free ride and penalizes parents.  As a parent, you pay the same earnings-related tax as non-parents and on top of that you pay a tax-equivalent in the form of childrearing.  Not only is that contribution not recognized but it is penalized in the form of reduced earnings over a lifetime and hence lower earnings-related social security benefits.

Social security thus suppresses fertility - not that it is the only factor in the birth dearth now afflicting half the countries in the world - and so creates its own fiscal woes.  The ratio of workers/contributors to beneficiaries declines dramatically.  The working age population always maintained those too old or sick or disabled to work, but now we have ever more of the latter and proportionately fewer of the former.

One kind of solution briefly discussed by Ponnuru is to re-establish the direct link for individuals between fertility behavior (as demographers call it) in young adulthood and security in old age or disability.  One way to do this - well short of abolishing social insurance - is to increase the tax credit substantially to offset the contribution in kind that parents make to the system.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

End Gendercide in the U.S.!

Undercover in Austin, Texas, where a woman is advised on how she can delay an abortion decision and wait to find out if she's carrying a boy or girl - so she can have the baby killed if it's a girl.  And defraud Medicaid in the process.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Working to End Gendercide in India

The Rhema Project
After last week’s post about female infanticide and foeticide in India I received some information via email ( about The Rhema Project. This NGO is on the ground in India and is seeking to change attitudes towards the Indian girl child.  In its own words:

“The mission of The Rhema Project is to eliminate female infanticide, sex determination feticide and other discriminations against the girl child in India by supporting and networking with organizations and indigenous groups. We strive to add value to female lives in India through the short-term rescue of unborn, newborn and the Indian girl child as well as long-term initiatives that include education, health and wellness, trade and micro-finance to help Indian women become truly valued by their culture.”

I suggest heading over to the website and having a look at the amazing work that The Rhema Project is doing. But for a brief taste, here is a project that The Rhema Project is currently involved in (as described by its director, Dan Blacketor):

“Our organization has been working in Tamil Nadu.  Two years ago we launched a very simple program that we refer to as our "Prenatal and Newborn Care" initiative.  Simply, the program identifies communities with a high rate of gendercide and;

1.  Begins to provide all pregnant woman a daily milk (1/2 liter) allotment.  Our indigenous staff simply begins to build relationships with the families.
2.  Each week the women receive vitamin supplements to help improve the health of mother and fetus.
3.  Once a month the group of women are taken to a clinic or hospital for an exam (not a ultrasound).  While returning to the village we take the women out to lunch at an Indian restaurant.  This demonstrates value to the pregnant woman as well as helps build community among the women.
4.  Once the baby is born we celebrate the birth of a girl with small gifts and a blessing.  We do not do this for boy babies since the family and community already celebrate his birth and life.
5.  Families with girl babies are allowed to continue to participate in the daily milk (1 liter) and vitamin allotment for an additional six months.
6.  We celebrate the girl babies first birth with a small gift to the baby and family.

Most times we precede this program with a community project that will benefit all.  Many times this is the drilling of a bore-well.  All have access.

What we have experienced is a reduction of mortality rates of girl babies by over 90% within 12 to 18 months after the program has been started.  Amazingly, nearly 80% of the birth families decide to keep their girl baby and raise her.  For those families unwilling or unable to care for a girl baby we simply identify a family that are willing to care for her and provide them a small monthly stipend to cover the additional costs of raising another child.

In several villages, the women of the village have actually taken over the responsibilities of this program and we have seen midwifes move from executioner to advocate for the girl babies born in the community.”

While we can pontificate all we like about the problems of the world (and I must admit I like it more than I should) people like those involved in The Rhema Project are the ones actually changing things. They are the ones who save lives, change attitudes and make this world a better place. They need and deserve our support. We should give it to them. May their project be a fruitful and successful one. As we (sometimes) say in New Zealand, “kia kaha!”

From MercatorNet, May 25, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Perils of Polygamy

The push for same-sex marriage between two partners has led inexorably to demands for legal recognition of polyamorous or polygamous marriage.  Once marriage is no longer based on the only kind of sex capable of generating new life, it is no longer clear why it should be limited to two people.  Here Christopher Kaczor considers the damaging effects of polygamy for women, children, men, and society.  Similar considerations apply to the the growing practice of sex-selective abortion, which has led to a huge demographic imbalance between boys and girls.

The Perils of Polygamy
May 21, 2012
Recent empirical research suggests that, in virtually every respect, polygamy is socially detrimental—to society in general, to men, to women, and to children.

In the course of history, approximately 85 percent of societies have practiced polygamy. Pushed by advocates of same-sex marriage and multiculturalism, some scholars, such as the signers of “Beyond Gay Marriage,” argue that it is irrational and bigoted for contemporary society to limit marriage to just two people. However, there is no bigotry in treating different things differently, and there are many important differences between polygamy and monogamy in practice as well as in principle.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Fr. Barron: Additional Comments on Religious Liberty and the English Experience

Father Barron provides more candid commentary about religious freedom, politics, iconoclasm, and the intersection of religion and the state within British history. 

Sexual Revolution and the Marriage Crisis

Here Michael Cook of MercatorNet excerpts and comments on the republication by Sandro Magister of the blog Chiesa, of a 1995 introduction by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to a Vatican document about homosexuality.  
Mary Eberstadt, in Adam and Eve After the Pill, defines the sexual revolution of the 1960s-1970s "as the ongoing destigmatization of all varieties of non marital sexual activity, accompanied by a sharp rise in such sexual activity, in diverse societies around the world (most notably in the most advanced)." Her book's main focus is on the rise of the pill, along with universal legal access to abortion, which enabled the sexual revolution with all its consequences for marriage and families, children and women that she chronicles.
The HHS mandate that requires employers to pay for contraceptive and abortion drugs as if they were part of health care and regardless of the employer's religious or conscientious objections, points to two distinct but related issues, as I argued below.  One has to do with the ever-expanding power of the state and its suppression of religious freedom as it defines what is morally acceptable and what is not, what counts as a religious organization or employee, and so on.  The other is the substantive issue of contraception (not to mention abortion) itself, both in terms of its social consequences and its relation to human sexuality and the nature of the human person.
A similar distinction arises in the case of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.  The latter fundamentally transforms the nature of marriage itself, as understood universally for millennia since the earliest surviving legal codes.  Like contraception and the sexual revolution in general, it separates sex from conjugal marriage (which depends on the only kind of sexual activity capable of generating new life) and both from children. So the question, "What is marriage?" is fundamental to any serious discussion of "same-sex marriage" where the sexual relations involve directly and necessarily contradict the nature of marriage as understood until a few years.  If marriage is separated in principle (per se as opposed to per accidens) from the bearing and raising of children that result from the sexual activity of the two parents who made them, it becomes something else entirely, something in which the desires of adults - never before a criterion for inclusion in or exclusion from marriage - replace the needs and interests of children as primary matters for concern by society and state.
As we have seen in a growing number of court decisions, government regulations and legislation in Canada, the UK, California and Massachusetts, once marriage is redefined in this way, the state becomes involved in redefining sexual morality and in telling schools, parents, and even churches what they may teach to children about at least some of the sexual practices and relationships newly destigmatized by the sexual revolution.
Since this new intrusiveness of the state and its promulgation of a new orthodoxy in matters of sexual morality contradicts the millennia-old religious teaching of the world's major religions, there is inevitably a Clash of Orthodoxies in which the state's secularist orthodoxy is imposed ever more coercively in every area of life.  Douglas Farrow has explored this phenomenon - the dependence of the sexual revolution, and particularly same-sex marriage, on a Leviathan state - in relation to Canada, where the Church's traditional teachings on sexual morality have effectively been criminalized.  As he shows, the redefinition of marriage spells the end of marriage as a social institution - our most child-friendly institution - and this in turn requires the hypertrophy of the state and the suppression of religious liberty and the rights of parents.  As another Canadian writer, Michael Coren, put it, Canadian legislators may pass a law declaring that 2+2=5 and criminalize the teaching of anything to the contrary, but such a measure can only be imposed by strong and pervasive state power that intrudes into every area of civil society, destroying religious freedom in the process and setting up a state secularist religion as the new and exclusive orthodoxy.
As in the case of the contraceptive mandate, there is another aspect of the argument.  The traditional understanding of homosexuality (and other "disordered" sexual desires and activities) does not rest on biblical revelation alone - as an unfathomable command of God that requires our obedient but unreasoning assent - but on an understanding of the nature of the human person and of human sexuality.  It rests on a metaphysical, not simply a physical understanding of nature, on reason informed but not replaced by revelation.  As in the case of contraception, the substantive argument cannot be ducked indefinitely.  No amount of emphasis on the Church's oft-repeated and demonstrated love and compassion for homosexuals, her opposition to violence and unjust discrimination against them, will in any case placate those activists who insist on building a "wall of hate" to stigmatize those who argue on any grounds whatever for traditional marriage.  In their view, to avoid being called a hate-filled bigot and worse, you must assent to the end of marriage as it has been understood across time and cultures throughout the world until they launched their campaign.

The philosophical origins of the marriage crisis, according to Joseph Ratzinger

Joseph Ratzinger has one of the clearest and most insightful minds on the planet. Nowadays his day job is being Pope, which involves numerous duties apart from writing academic treatises. However, back in 1995, he penned an introduction to a Vatican document about homosexuality which seems prophetic, although perhaps it's just logical. The paragraphs below have been reprinted from the blog Chiesa, written by the "Vaticanologist" of the Italian newspaper L'espresso, Sandro Magister.

It is no coincidence that the spread and growing social acceptance of homosexuality should be accompanied by a serious crisis in the area of marriage and the family, by a widespread mentality hostile toward life as also by a frightening sexual freedom.

Without wanting to contest the plurality of causes of this phenomenon, it can be said that at its root is a "new" and completely transformed understanding of human sexuality.

The "sexual revolution" unleashed in the 1960s was intended to "free" human sexuality from the straightjacket of traditional morality. It began to sing the praises of sexuality as a simple consumer good and means for obtaining pleasure. The satisfaction of the sexual impulse was propagandized as the way to happiness and to the true development of the personality. Values like self-control and chastity were accepted less and less. Many maintained that sexual continence was unnatural and unlivable. Others in turn sought to transfer human sexuality completely into the realm of the "private" and the "subjective": if two persons love each other and want to express this in the language of love, why should they be prevented from doing so?

Subsequently the exercise of sexuality was detached more and more from marriage, and above all with the global spread of contraception, from procreation. It was asserted that the "old" understanding of sexuality corresponded to another culture, which in the meantime had been transformed.

Even the biblical affirmations had to be considered in the context of the time and situation back then, and could not be understood as "atemporal" moral truths. This applied in particular to the passages in which the Bible speaks of homosexual practices.

The traditional argument, according to which sexual behavior is immoral if it contradicts the "nature" of man, was abandoned. What is "natural" or "unnatural" would also always depend on the respective culture and subjective sensibility of a people. And moreover, homosexuality could also be found in nature. Many designated the different abnormal forms of sexuality, including homosexuality, as simple "variations" of nature, which should be accepted and approved: just as there are persons with black, white, or red skin, just as some use their right hands and others their left, so also many would have a disposition to heterosexual love, others to homosexual love.

Behind these and similar ideas is concealed a central problem of morality: what is the nature of human sexuality? Or more in general: what is the nature of man? And when does an act correspond to this nature?

If the concept of nature, as in the approaches mentioned above, is understood only in a physical-empirical way, in fact it is not possible to reach a univocal judgment on the moral value of an act that would transcend the different cultures.

The concept of nature, which underlies the whole of tradition and also the magisterial pronouncements of the [Catholic] Church (cf. "Veritatis Splendor," nos. 46-53), is nevertheless not of a physical character, but metaphysical: an act has been and is considered as natural when it is in harmony with the essence of man, with his being as intended by God. On the basis of this being, which shines in the order of creation – and is reinforced by revelation – reason can deduce the imperative of duty, above all if it is illuminated by faith. In nature, or rather in creation, man can recognize a "logos," a meaning and purpose, which leads him to true self-realization and to his happiness, and which ultimately is founded in the will of God.

In the loss of this metaphysical conception of nature, which is accompanied by an almost total abandonment of the theology of creation, is to be sought one of the main causes of the moral crisis of our days.

If human duty, in fact, is no longer seen as anchored in the being and therefore in the wisdom of the creator, there remains only the alternative that is derived from human wisdom. But then it is the work of man, subjected to the change of time, able to be reshaped and manipulated. Good and evil, then, would ultimately be decided by the majority. Then "pressure groups," which are able to guide mass opinion, have great prospects of success...

In the years after the publication of this letter [in 1986], the influence of the currents mentioned above has not diminished. In public opinion, homosexual behavior seems to be substantially accepted already. The pressure of some groups, which are asking for legal equivalence for the forms of homosexual life with the traditional form of marriage, is becoming ever larger in various states, above all in the United States of America and in Europe. Such attempts demonstrate the relevance of the letter.

(Excerpted from the introduction to: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ""Lettera sulla cura pastorale delle persone omosessuali, 1 ottobre 1986. Testo e commenti," Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City, 1995/2012)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Obama's Contraceptive Kulturkampf

One issue exercising Catholic opponents of the HHS mandate is whether to emphasize the attack by the Obama Administration on religious liberty or take the substantive argument about contraception (as well as sterilization and abortion) to the public square and argue from reason and the actual experience of the sexual revolution unleashed by the pill (see on this Mary Eberstadt, The Vindication of Humanae Vitae, and her recent book,  Adam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution).

The mandate is indeed a serious attack on religious liberty, an assault on the freedom of Americans to practice their faiths without intrusion by the federal government.  There is no compelling state interest in compelling Catholics to violate their conscience, plenty of other exemptions have been granted to other groups - including other religious groups like the Amish who are exempted from the entire law - and, as pointed out earlier, the measure has all the marks of a bitterly anti-Catholic cram-down reminiscent of the tyrant Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who compelled Jews in the 2nd century BC to eat pork on pain of torture and death.  The contraceptive and abortifacient drugs ingested aim to prevent or kill babies and have nothing to do with health, except to harm it.

But Catholics and other opponents of contraception reject artificial birth control and abortifacient drugs not simply as a religious peculiarity like the proscription on eating pork or the requirement to circumcise male infants.  It was indeed the norm for all major Christian groups from the time of the apostles to 1930 - but the reason for rejecting it is not a distinct command of God for Christians but arises because contraception is contrary to the flourishing of human beings regardless of faith, if any.  

It is harmful to women, to children, and to the family, as Eberstadt shows, and appears to have serious medical side-effects too.  It treats the normal healthy functioning of a woman's body in pregnancy as if it were a disease state and needed to be 'treated.'  It treats children as a burden to be prevented or eliminated for the sake of adults.  It separates sex from parental responsibility for children and changes the power dynamics between men and women, to the disadvantage of women.  It lies behind the explosive increase since the 1960s of paternal desertion, single parent families, cohabitation, divorce, and abortion, with negative results for women and children, especially but not only the poor and minorities, in every area of life.

As Eberstadt shows, this is a compelling argument that needs to be made, not ducked.  Seeking exemptions on religious grounds is necessary but by no means sufficient.

The White House’s Contraceptive Kulturkampf
Franciscan University of Steubenville just dropped health insurance for its undergraduates, thus becoming one of the most prominent early victims of the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring all health plans to cover contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs. Today the Catholic Church has found itself engaged in a new Kulturkampf, a cultural struggle initiated by State aggression against the libertas ecclesiae, the freedom of the Church to manage her own affairs so that her members might flourish in virtue and serve their fellow citizens freely. 

Back from England, Fr. Barron Comments on Religious Liberty

Wonderful commentary about religious persecution in the 16th century, how it still haunts England today, and how fundamental religious liberty is to a free society.

Junk Science of Political Psychology

Denyse O'Leary | Thursday, 17 May 2012

You can tell it’s an election year when…

Some psychology researchers are demonizing or marginalizing voters with opposing views and calling it “science.”

... when psychologists try to explain why people vote as they do. Most of the time, it’s harmless, but recently, a new, nastier tone can be detected. It’s something to keep an eye on because, as commentator David Brooks explains, it involves a key change in how human decision-making is understood:

“The cognitive revolution of the past thirty years provides a different perspective on our lives, one that emphasizes the relative importance of emotion over pure reason, social connections over individual choice, moral intuition over abstract logic, perceptiveness over I.Q.”

The term “hardwired” is a frequent shorthand for this new approach.
For example, commenting on negative political advertising, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, remarked that “there appears to be something hard-wired into humans that gives special attention to negative information… I think it’s evolutionary biology.”*

When emotion is considered to be “hardwired” to prevail over reason and experience, it is no surprise if some researchers demonize or marginalize voters with opposing views and call it “science.”

Most social science researchers who currently engage in this tactic are progressives. Self-confessed liberal psychologist Nathan Heflick puts it like this, “psychology would be foolish to not at least acknowledge that a field dominated by liberals, that has organizations taking liberal moral positions, does not suffer scientifically.” Foolish indeed, when we consider the evidence.

Heflick worries that research that challenges dominant political positions in the field will not get published, or even submitted. True, and there is a commensurate problem with what does get published. Much research into voter opinion seems structured to explain why progressives are better and smarter than conservatives.
In “Born This Way: The new weird science of hardwired political identity” (2012), Sasha Issenberg advises us that conservatives are turned on by “their own disgust” and liberals just like being turned on, period. And that University of California, Berkeley, psychologist Jack Block:

“compared personality attributes of nursery school children with their political orientation 20 years later, and found kids considered ‘self-reliant, energetic, somewhat dominating’ grew up to be liberals, while those described as ‘easily victimized, easily offended, rigid’ grew up to be conservatives.”

A survey article informs us that:

“Most of the research literature … suggests that conservatives are more easily threatened, more likely to perceive the world as dangerous, and less trusting in comparison with liberals.”

Similarly, it was announced in 2010, “Scientists Find ‘Liberal Gene,’”supposedly DRD4 but that “subjects were only more likely to have leanings to the left if they were also socially active during adolescence.” The gene has not been heard from again.

We are also told that “People who consider themselves liberals or atheists tend to have higher IQs than those who are more religious or conservative.” Other experts questioned these findings because of the a study author’s “idiosyncratic” definition of liberals as “caring about people who are not genetically related to them.” And it is perhaps relevant that the researcher, Satoshi Kanazawa, has come under fire for claiming that science also shows that black women are less attractive. That was a bridge too far for Psychology Today, which removed his article from their site as a result. But most such studies are disseminated in popular media far more often than they are questioned, and from a political perspective that is what really matters.

Sometimes, the underlying agenda sounds far from liberal. What about cheek swabs to determine politics? From science writer Issenberg: One editor of an anthology of evolutionary politics, Man Is by Nature a Political Animal, “predicts that within ten years saliva swabs will identify a genetic link explaining why some individuals welcome immigration while others respond violently to it,” due to an evolved fear of pathogens.

As Tom Jacobs slyly puts it, “The implication — presumably unintentional, but still stinging to some — is that conservatives are somehow emotionally impaired, and vaguely inferior to the more open-minded people on the left.” The self-congratulatory reek is all the more offensive because psychology journals have come under serious fire recently for non-reproducible findings. In Chronicle of Higher Education, Tom Bartlett reports,

“A group of researchers have already begun what they’ve dubbed the Reproducibility Project, which aims to replicate every study from those three journals for that one year. The project is part of Open Science Framework, a group interested in scientific values, and its stated mission is to ‘estimate the reproducibility of a sample of studies from the scientific literature.’ This is a more polite way of saying ‘We want to see how much of what gets published turns out to be bunk.’”

Whether reproducible—on its own terms—or not, what makes this stuff bunk is: Voters’ reasonable interpretation of their own experience is dismissed as irrelevant.
For example, voters may reasonably fear that immigration, particularly illegal immigration, could cost them their jobs (or raise their taxes). Researchers who strongly favor immigration themselves respond by ruling reason off the table and locating typically conservative voter opposition in evolution, neurons, or genes. The Association for Psychological Science’s 2012 conference in Chicago headlined two papers that take neuron or gene approaches to political positions.

Does it matter? The main problem isn’t that this partisan nonsense is hurtful to conservatives, but that its emphasis on supposed hard wiring and emotion over context and reason is unlikely to be compatible in the long run with representative government.

* quoted in David Berlinski “On the Origins of the Mind”, in Bruce L. Gordon and William A. Dembski, The Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2011), p. 713–14.

Denyse O’Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.


A Comment (PA):
'We are also told that “People who consider themselves liberals or atheists tend to have higher IQs than those who are more religious or conservative.” Other experts questioned these findings because of the study author’s “idiosyncratic” definition of liberals as “caring about people who are not genetically related to them.' 

This is indeed a very odd way of defining liberals since by every measure secular liberals are the LEAST caring of those outside their own family. They personally give less of their own time, treasure, and talent to charitable causes, whether secular or faith-based, than religious conservatives (most generous), secular conservatives, or religious liberals. This is the consistent finding of a mass of research over decades. (See A.C. Brooks, Who Really Cares?)  Was Kanazawa unaware of this, as well as of his racist bias? (Of course, it all fits in his mental world, since for him science shows that Black women are less attractive. They are also more religious.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pelosi gives talking points to Catholics!

 Elizabeth Scalia, The Anchoress, describes the unbelievable chutzpah of Nancy Pelosi.  Not only does Pelosi pretend to be a faithful (devout, even) Catholic rather than an apostate.  She also tries to suggest — in the face of the entire teaching body of the Church and thousands of years of understanding and reason, that say differently — that her Catholicism compels her to defy and denounce the teaching of the Church in order to impose her views on others. 

Pelosi Tries to Give Talking Points to Catholics – UPDATED

Right on schedule, Nancy Pelosi tries to do what Ted Kennedy and Mario Cuomo have done before her: give talking points to Catholics who wish to hop on to policy that flies in the face of church teaching.
You’ll recall it was Kennedy (and later Cuomo) who gave voice to the corkscrew notion that one could be “personally opposed” to abortion but too broad-minded to “impose my views on others.”
Because, as you know, modern-day liberals would never presume to impose their views on others, not at all. The HHS Mandate? Pffffft!…it’s not imposing anything on Catholic institutions! It’s just making them do the right thing!
Kennedy’s duplicitous language was effective, though. It informed whole generations of very cowardly Catholic politicians and others.

No force on earth more powerful

There may be a force on earth as powerful as the love of a mother. But I doubt it.

You may say it’s the force of love itself, and I’ll give you no quarrel with the power of love. But there’s something universal, timeless, transcendental and inscrutable about Mother love that cranks it up to a high notch.

Scientists do research on the value of a loving, nurting mother and filmmakers do movies about the indomitable power of that love. But the day to day reality of it is beyond reach and grasp.

She’ll do anything for you. The greater your need the more she will try to move the heavens and the earth to answer or eliminate it. If you have an ailment or illness or any sort of pain, she will beg God to give it to her instead, to let her take it from you, but because that’s not how God works she will suffer with you and with an exquisite pain that pierces the heart and tries the soul like iron in the fire.

She may be silent and she may be profusely wordy but she searches for her own way to express what you need to hear. Or what she struggles to understand as your need to hear and her best expression to say, and it’s never right, or good, or good enough.

My friend and radio show guest Dr. Meg Meeker taps into this better than anyone, professionally and personally and poignantly. So this year she presents a Mother’s Day Challenge.

First, write down all of the things that you feel that you should be. You know, like: nicer, more patient, more assertive, less assertive, etc. We all have our own lists. Then, write down all of the things that you should do. Cook better meals, make more money, clean your house more frequently, spend more “quality time” with your kids. Having trouble coming up with your lists? You’re not being honest. Think about the “other woman” who lives in your heads and talks to you every day. You remember her- she’s the version of the mother that you should be. The perfect you, as a mom. Put her down on paper. Really let it out. Write down what she tells you that you should be doing, where you should be going, how much exercise you should be getting (mine’s telling me I should go to the gym as soon as I’m done) and how your kids would be behaving if you were more like her. Now you’re getting it. Spend some time thinking about her. What does she look like, what does she sound like? She speaks so much more nicely than you do- because she never raises her voice.

After you have done this exercise, carefully read over what you have written. I know, your kids should be in a higher reading group. Your daughter would be dancing four times per week if you had the money. Maybe you need a better job to pay for those lessons. That’s what she would do. Read the list over and over and add to it over the next couple of days.

Now- here comes the good part. Drag your pen to the bottom of the page and start scratching things off of the list. Tell her to shrink. You don’t need her in your head. She’s fictitious. She never will exist because she doesn’t need to. Here’s the best news of all: your kids don’t like her and they don’t want her as their Mom. They want you.

Replace the lists you have made with reality, Your kids want you. They want to be with you, laugh with you and do errands with you. They don’t need to be in a higher reading group, dance more, have a nicer bedroom or a cleaner house. And- they don’t really care that much about your cooking. They don’t care whether you buy brownies at the store, make them from a box or even make them from scratch. Those are YOUR issues. They just want to eat the brownie with you.

This Mother’s Day, I want to eat brownies and cookies, have tea or coffee or a toast, with my mother in gratitude for who she is. And with my sons for who they are. What inexpressible gifts.
The Second Vatican Council fathers understood this.

Wives, mothers of families, the first educators of the human race in the intimacy of the family circle, pass on to your sons and your daughters the traditions of your fathers at the same time that you prepare them for an unsearchable future. Always remember that by her children a mother belongs to that future which perhaps she will not see.

But for which she will be watchful and forever grateful.

From MercatorNet

Children don't decrease parental well-being after all

Parents no longer destined for depression

Two new studies presented at the Population Association of America’s annual meeting have found that parents are happier than their childless counterparts, making previous research to the contrary questionable.  Could the immeasurable love you feel for your children outweigh the sleepless nights, endless washing and nights in after all?

Mikko Myrskyl√§ of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, co-author of one of the two studies based on longitudinal data from British and German parents reported that:

We find no evidence that parental well-being decreases after a child is born to levels preceding the children, but we find strong evidence that well-being is elevated when people are planning and waiting for the child, and in the year when the child is born.

The study found that prior research had not considered modifying sociodemographic factors and individual personality differences which made previous findings problematic.  This research was based on couples from around the world from 1972 to 2008, and found that parents between 1995 and 2008 were happier than nonparents, compared to parents from 1985 to 1995 who were found to be unhappier than nonparents.   I’m not sure why this change might have occurred after 1995 – better economic conditions perhaps?

Interestingly, given my post last week which identified that more educated women are choosing to have families, the studies found that age, education and the amount of resources at your disposal make a significant difference to parental well-being and happiness.  That makes sense given that it is likely to be less stressful to have children when you have less financial stress.  However, in saying that, surely you get to a point where you’re so used to an easy lifestyle that kids are a major shock to your normal routines and finances.  Researchers were also careful to warn that the risk of involuntary childlessness increases with age, with co-author Rachel Margolis of the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario commenting in USA Today that "The results are not meant to encourage women to wait to very high ages to have a first birth,”.

One thing the study doesn’t comment on is the happiness in old age when you have children – surely grandparents are exponentially happier than their lonelier childless counterparts?  A few of my friends who work in hospitals with elderly people often comment that the number of people who don’t have any children to look after them or visit them is surprising and sad.  A number of elderly people attempt to stay in hospitals longer than they need to just for the company, causing problems for hospital staff.  So perhaps this is another thing to take into consideration over and above these study results in your decision whether or not to start a family!

From MercatorNet

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Harm to Children and the Hypertrophy of the State: SSM is Not a Good or Right

President Obama appeals to his conscience as he denies the conscience rights of others.  He says he has been "informed" by his supposedly Christian faith in redefining what orthodox Christians regard as the sacred sacrament of marriage.  But his announcement can only pave the way for further criminalization of orthodox Christian teaching about marriage and about the morality of homosexual acts.  We have seen how this plays out with the hypertrophy of the state in Canada, where the state defines what children may be taught about morality in schools, public and religious alike, and even at home where children are schooled by their parents.  Where legislators and judges insist that 2+2=5 and criminalize teaching the contrary, the result can only be the growing intrusion of the state into every area of civil society.

Here Sheila Liaugminas of MercatorNet offers a preliminary analysis of some of the issues that get neglected when the MSM define the issue of as one pitting the champions of civil rights against the opponents of them. On the effective use by same-sex marriage supporters of the "Selma Analogy," uncritically adopted and assumed by reporters and commentators though strongly opposed by African-American ministers and churches (see the video clip I posted below May 8 from the National Organization for Marriage) and the implications for an ever more intrusive and coercive state power, see the important article at First Things by its editor, R.R. Reno.

It may have erupted in the Twitterverse and on MSM sites, but the only possible surprise element may have been the timing. Maybe.

Because President Obama’s was among the most expected and awaited coming out moments in the nation. Which makes you wonder, what was outed, per se?

So President Obama has come out in favor of same-sex marriage. Now what?

His announcement Wednesday provoked an outpouring of appreciation from the gay community, but it also raised questions about whether and how it would translate into actions. Having made history as the first sitting president to support gay unions, he could leave it at that, turning his attention back to the economic concerns that remain the top priority for American voters.

(Note that sentiment. It’s important.)

But his endorsement has increased hopes among gay rights groups that Obama will take a more forceful stand on gay rights as well as gay marriage, which remains a divisive and emotional subject that could complicate his reelection efforts.
“This is the most LGBT-friendly administration in history, and the things the White House has done and the administrative agencies have done on behalf of [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people are tremendous,” said Rachel B. Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, which advocates for same-sex couples in the immigration system. “And yet, everybody wants full equality, not half equality.”

So this is where I have a question or thought or two. Because everything else involving Vice President Joe Biden setting the stage for this announcement, and the president’s admission which was not exactly breaking news, has received saturation coverage already. Especially as it relates to political strategy, which seems to be the driving force of this evolution.

Especially considering that it came the day after the North Carolina election in which voters again upheld the historical legal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

But that’s part of my observation about this issue and very public debate. The language used to debate it.

In almost everything I heard on this issue, it was framed by media as opposition to a good, a right. And who is opposed to it (North Carolina voters being the latest) and who favors the right, such as it is claimed (the vice-president and president  being the latest). One network news commentator declared it as thecivil rights issue of our time. Or at least the one I heard, while tuned in.

None of us wants to be on the wrong side of any human rights issue. Which is why it’s so strategic to make this a human rights issue. No wonder the poll numbers are changing, trending towards acceptance or approval of “same sex marriage.” By word control the merchants of ideas and politics are attempting thought control, and it works by casting a whole segment of the population as “opponents” of a “right.” When in fact what we’re talking about is the redefinition of marriage. Which changes the linguisitic calculus.

So let’s do a thought experiment: Instead of being intolerant opponents of same-sex marriage (a negative), majority voters in 32 states now (all the states where it was put to a vote) are actually proponents of the traditional definition of marriage (a positive), and opponents of that tradition are intolerant of anyone who disagrees with their views of legal recognition of marriage. Which members of the Catholic church hold as a sacrament besides a law.

Almost nobody is talking about the rights of children in this battle. Almost. Butthese folks are.

William B. May, founder and chairman of the San Francisco-based group that promotes Catholic social teaching on society’s common interest….[says]

“Underlying the proposal to redefine marriage, is an assumption that marriage is merely the committed relationship between two loving people…And a lot of us think of marriage in terms of the adult perspective, and the benefit for adults.”

“That’s a private interest – and that’s not what marriage really is.”

“Marriage is more than that. It’s a communion of persons. And when we look at it from the perspective of the child, it’s the heart’s desire of every person – without exception – to be united with, and to know, the man and woman that they came from. That’s part of who we are.”

“What’s happening now, with the redefinition of marriage in the minds of people, is that more and more children are becoming deprived of that experience – which is a human right – to be born into, and raised in, a family with a mother and a father united in marriage.”

Society and culture, May explained, have perennially defined marriage in this manner for the sake of binding men and women to fulfill this duty to their children.

Thus, any redefinition weakens the unique cultural and legal standing of the only institution that secures the integral bond between children and parents.

“The harm is this,” he said. “By redefining marriage as merely the public recognition of a relationship between adults, we essentially ban the promotion of marriage as the only institution that unites a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union.”

“It creates a conflict with the human rights of the child, to know and be cared for by their mother and father in the union of a marriage.”

May said this conflict would represent a clash between the public interest of all children – in the recognition and promotion of the type of union in which they have a right to be raised – and the private interest of homosexuals involving an essentially different type of relationship.

“To promote the unique value of the union of a man and a woman would then be legally ‘discriminatory’ against homosexuals – because it would be making a statement that one type of relationship has greater value. And it would not be permitted, if marriage is redefined as merely a committed relationship between adults.”

Not only the state, but “every institution in society,” May indicated, would then be “bound under the law” to ignore the most compelling public purpose for marriage, as a safeguard for children’s rights.

As for other ’interest groups’ (since this is a political calculus), Elizabeth Scalia does an interesting roundup here.

My first thought was: what does this mean for the black churches? Back in 2008 it was the black Christian vote that defeated gay marriage in California. African Americans voted for Obama, but while they were there, they voted against gay marriage. It’s one of those stories no one wanted to talk about. Now, things become interesting: do African American churches, hearing the president say that “my Christian beliefs” inform this newly declared viewpoint, simply give up their own beliefs to support his or do they stand for their own? And then, whose Christian beliefs are right? That’s a whole ball of wax I bet no one wanted to deal with in this election.

But there it is. Forcing the issue to the public arena of ideas and debate. So let it be about that, beliefs and worldviews on economic and foreign and domestic issues, and public policy on social moral issues as well as fiscal issues.

And let it be fair and honest.