Tuesday, September 25, 2012

All men are equal, but some are more equal than others

Michael Kirke | 24 Sep 2012 | comment

For more than two centuries the three pillars of western democracy have been Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Enshrined and balanced in the rule of law as we know it, they have been the handmaids of our evolving civilized world.  Crucial to their influence, however, is that word “balance” because if any one of them becomes distorted the house which they support will come tumbling down.

We are now in crisis, because that very act of distortion is being perpetrated before our very eyes – the pillar of Equality is day by day assuming gross characteristics which have already begun to cripple its two siblings, Liberty and Fraternity. Someone else can draw up the catalogue – Obama’s Mandate alone will provide ample illustration. Suffice here to draw on one authoritative source which lists a frightening scenario of injustice which, in the name of Equality, is now threatening any number of citizens in any number of states who treasure their Liberty and their Fraternity.

Britain’s Coalition For Marriage has sought an expert legal opinion on the perceived threats to freedom of conscience in the destruction of marriage now promised by the British Government. Add to that similar threats in the public policies of the USA, France and Ireland – to name just three. If you take away freedom of conscience you destroy, not only Liberty itself but one of the foundations of Fraternity, respect for the individual conscience of my brother.

Concerned that worries about gay marriage and freedom of conscience were too narrowly focused, the C4M commissioned a legal opinion from leading human rights lawyer, Aidan O’Neill QC. Mr O’Neill was asked to give his expert advice on a series of scenarios related to legalising gay marriage which took the focus beyond places of worship and ministers of religion who conduct weddings. They added hypothetical cases which dealt with the impact in the workplace, in schools and in other areas of everyday life which they felt had been been overlooked.

For example, what would be likely happen to a Church of England chaplain working in the state-run National Health Service who, while conducting a wedding service in his parish church, preached that marriage is only for one man and one woman? If his NHS bosses found out about this would he be disciplined for breaching NHS diversity policy?

Mr. O’Neill’s view is that under the Equality Act 2010 the NHS managers would have proper grounds for justifying disciplinary action, even if the chaplain was preaching in his own church outside work time. Furthermore, the situation would be the same for any chaplain employed within the public sector, such as armed forces chaplains or university chaplains.

What about a primary school teacher who is asked to use a storybook about gay marriage called King & King? This book is recommended by local authorities and by gay rights charities. Would a conscientiously Christian teacher who says using the book conflicts with her religious beliefs about marriage be threatened with dismissal unless she backed down?

O’Neill says yes, she certainly would and that the school would be within its legal rights to dismiss her if she refuses to use the material.

What about the case where parents ask for their child to be withdrawn from school lessons on the history of gay marriage, for deeply-held religious reasons? The parents might say that they have a right to withdraw their child under European Convention on Human Rights. But the school might refuse to accept this pleading that it is under a legal duty to promote equality.

O’Neill’s legal opinion on this is that the parents do not ultimately have a right to insist that their child be withdrawn from such history lessons, and that the parents “will have little prospect of success in challenging the school’s insistence that their child attend” the lessons.

How would that scenario play out in schools which are explicitly designated as “faith schools”? 

He said:

“If the school in question were a faith school, or otherwise one with a religious ethos within the State sector in England and Wales, this would make no difference to my answer”

Then there is the case of fostering. Take a couple which applies to be foster carers. They tell social workers they are motivated to care for children because of their Christian faith. On hearing this, the social workers ask them whether they support gay marriage. The couple says they do not, and the social workers halt the application because of equality and discrimination policies. O’Neill confirmed that a local authority fostering agency would have legitimate legal grounds for acting this way.

This opinion can be backed up by a judgement already handed down by a British court. In February, 2011, Eunice and Owen Johns, a Christian couple, married almost 40 years, were deemed by the High Court to be no longer eligible for fostering children aged between five and 10. They were deemed unsuitable, in law, to do so any longer because they were unwilling to promote a homosexual lifestyle to a child. Neither Mr nor Mrs Johns had anything against gay people but they were not in favour of sex before marriage, whatever an individual’s orientation.

Mr. O’Neill was asked about a case where a church hires a council-owned community centre each week for its youth club. The church website states that it will only conduct opposite-sex marriages. Someone complains to the council, and while the church can’t be forced to conduct gay weddings, it is stopped from hiring the community centre. “Yes”,  he says, the council would be within its legal rights to do this.

Then there is the question of state employees in registry offices. At present a local authority can decide to accommodate the religious beliefs of one of its registrars by not designating him or her to be a “civil partnership registrar”. Other registrars within the local authority’s team are sufficient to provide the service to the public.
Mr. O’Neill’s view is that if gay marriage becomes law,

“that kind of adjustment to accommodate a registrar’s particular beliefs would no longer be an option for any employing authority because there would then be only be one system of marriage (rather than, as at present, a distinct civil partnership regime for same sex couples)”.

Going back to schools, the O’Neill opinion also considers the impact of redefining marriage on teaching. It says that the law will require that children learn about gay marriage in sex education lessons. This is because Section 403(1A)(a) of the Education Act 1996 imposes a duty on the Secretary of State “to issue guidance” ensuring that pupils “learn the nature of marriage and its importance for family life and the bringing up of children”. If gay marriage becomes law then “its importance for family life and the bringing up of children” must be taught as part of sex education.

So there you have it. Equality trumps Liberty every time. Goodbye Liberty, and it is quite clear that the Equality which will prevail in this brave new world will be of the Orwellian variety: "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others". 

This article is reproduced here from MercatorNet.  It is published by Michael Kirke and MercatorNet.com under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact MercatorNet for permission and fees. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Glory of Rome: Latin Hymns Every Catholic Should Know: 4. O Salutaris Hostia

4. O Salutaris Hostia

O salutaris Hostia, quae caeli pandis ostium!
Another hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas, this piece is actually the last two verses of the Corpus Christi hymn Verbum Supernum Prodiens. Along with the Pange Lingua, this hymn was written at the request of Pope Urban IV, who instituted the Feast of Corpus Christi in AD 1264. Today, O Salutaris is most often heard in the ritual of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

Latin Hymns Every Catholic Should Know: 3. Salve Regina

3. Salve Regina
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria!
The “Hail, Holy Queen” in English — and one of the four principle Marian antiphons of the Roman Breviary — the Salve Regina dates at least to the 11th century. According to legend, St. Bernard of Clairvaux was moved by divine inspiration to add to the hymn the final three-fold petition to Our Lady. St. Alphonsus Liguori found this hymn so beautiful that he wrote an entire treatise on it in his book The Glories of Mary. Every Latin Catholic should strive to memorize this beautiful song of praise to our Mother.

Jesus Had a Wife? More Gnostic Nonsense

Cornelius Sullivan 

Gnosticism, from “gnosis” in Greek, says that the salvation of the soul comes from the possession of a somewhat intuitive knowledge of the mysteries of the universe and of magic formulas about that knowledge. Gnostics were "people who knew", a superior class of beings, basically different from those who did not know.

There is a proportion of people today who also want to believe the most bizarre things about the preacher who claimed to be the son of God. If we follow the idea derived from Gnosticism that he had children then logically it follows that they, as direct line descendants, children of God made man, would be able to make the blind see, the lame walk, drive out demons, cure the sick, and speak with words that would change hearts and change the whole course of history. Tell me where they are. I want to see them. 

Jesus was married? Where was his wife? Where is she now? There were hundreds of witnesses to the Resurrection. Through the centuries there have been hundreds of visions from all parts of the world but not one of Jesus and his wife. Believe what you want, I’m going with the first thirty three or so popes who were martyred for their faith. Think of what that means. It is a violent death to affirm that Jesus is the only Lord, just that, not anything about his family, nothing about his progeny. 

Find an account that says that when Saint Stephen was being stoned to death, and forgave his murderers, that he had a vision of Jesus and his wife sitting around the kitchen table, or that Jesus and his wife said, “Saul, why are you persecuting us?, or Saint Peter said, “Quo Vadis Lord, where are you and Mrs. Jesus going?”  

If you like free flowing ideas that are all over the place without regard for the truth, and that tell you at the same time that you are getting special secrets that only some can know, you probably would have been a Gnostic back then, and today you probably get thrills from the most bizarre blogs.

My ridicule of domestic ideas is to point out the singularity of the story of salvation as revealed in history by so many witnesses who died for the truth.The idea of Jesus having a wife is not to die for.


Here is  on the latest from the Gnostic Noise Machine: 

I was going to let the whole “Jesus had a wife” thing pass by in silence, since the discovery of a minor fragmentary unprovenanced 4th century papyrus of a probable Gnostic text is about as relevant to actual Christianity as an episode of Scooby Doo.

If it turns out to be authentic (big if) it may very, very slightly and incompletely expand our knowledge of some of the fringe backwaters that burbled up and rapidly drained away in the early centuries of Christianity. Honestly, though, it doesn’t even really add much to our store of knowledge about Gnosticism (one of the earlier Christian heresies) that we didn’t already know. READ THE FULL POST HERE.


And here is Fr. Robert Barron in conversation with Dr. Scott Hahn about Gnosticism and modern spirituality.  Why Gnosticism, like Dan Brown and other conspiracy theories of our times, appeals to the perpetual adolescent in us.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Planned Bullyhood

Meg T. McDonnell | Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A new book gives an insider's view of the Susan G. Komen Foundation vs. Planned Parenthood battle.

On January 31 this year the Associated Press broke the news that Susan G. Komen for the Cure, an organization dedicated to ending breast cancer, would no longer be writing grants to Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States and a self-described leader in women’s health care.

For the pro-life camp, the news of the break between the two organizations meant a relief from the boycott of Komen in which many pro-lifers had participated. From the pro-abortion camp, the break brought an outcry alleging that Komen no longer really cared about women. The spilt between the two women’s groups created a media furor, and at the time, a public relations nightmare for the Komen Foundation. The result was that, three days after the AP story broke, Komen reversed its decision. Meanwhile, basic facts of the parting of ways were overlooked.

To begin, Komen had been funding Planned Parenthood for some 20 years, but at the time of the break their grants totaled roughly $700,000 a year, a notably small portion of Planned Parenthood’s annual one billion dollar budget.

Secondly, Planned Parenthood grants were being cut largely because they were “crappy grants,” as one Komen employee characterized them -- ”crappy” not because of what Planned Parenthood was doing, but because of what they were not doing.

At the time they ceased funding Planned Parenthood Komen was working on a grant strategy overhaul. Their new grant focus was direct screening and intervention—in other words, mammograms and treatment—neither of which Planned Parenthood offers; it was using Komen grants to offer referrals for these services. This meant two things: one, there was no way to be certain that grant money was directly used for the fight against breast cancer, and two, there was no way Planned Parenthood could follow up to see if women were actually getting breast cancer treatment. This is what made Planned Parenthood grants “crappy” in the eyes of some in Komen.

Then, there was the pesky fact that the Komen grant contract specifically stated that organizations under investigation—at the state or federal level—could not receive grants. Other organizations had had their Komen grants revoked under this clause, yet Planned Parenthood had not, though their organization faced numerous investigations at the state level, and a federal investigation had recently begun. Some Planned Parenthood affiliates had even had their state funding removed -- a further disqualification. In short, Komen was acting well within the bounds of its own rules. But that didn’t stop Planned Parenthood, their supporters, and many members of the media from ignoring the facts and declaring war.

According to a new book, Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines about the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cure,written by former Komen vice president, Karen Handel, the reproductive health giant breached a “gentle-ladies agreement” with the breast cancer charity and incited a media firestorm surrounding Komen’s decision to halt their Planned Parenthood grants. The relentless pressure from the pro-abortion movement resulted in a reversal of Komen’s decision, despite the pro-life movement’s best efforts to support Komen by donating to their organization, sending supportive emails, and buying the Komen pink paraphernalia which pro-lifers had long resisted out of principle. Subsequently, Handel, a newer hire and a pro-lifer (which was publicly known due to her former political career) stepped down from her post at Komen.

In this tell-all, Komen insider book, among the many insights Handel offers, one point is made startlingly clear—the Komen vs. Planned Parenthood debacle was a calculated battle, instigated by Planned Parenthood as a tactic in the trumped up “War on Women” strategy. This “war” is a constructed narrative which says that anyone who doesn’t support unequivocally abortion, free contraception at the cost of religious freedom, or any other reproductive technology must not really care about women -- a claim that is patently absurd. Yet that is the narrative Planned Parenthood and friends seem to think is necessary.

In fact, as Handel explains, what should have been an easy decision to cut off Planned Parenthood was complicated by the politics and opinions regarding Planned Parenthood among even Komen members who were sympathetic to the influential women’s group. “Komen’s new communications vice president noted that Planned Parenthood was ‘under the gun,’” Handel explains, “and that if Komen ended the grants, our organization would deal Planned Parenthood ‘a body blow.’” This is a startling claim considering both how little Komen grants contributed to Planned Parenthood’s large budget and the fact that other organizations had be cut off by Komen for less severe violations of its rules.

But the fact of the matter is that Planned Parenthood was under intense national scrutiny because of the recently begun federal investigation, a sizable and growing young pro-life movement, and continued gains in legislation to inform mothers and protect the unborn child. A recent exposé, coordinated by pro-life activist, Lila Rose, caught Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards lying when she claimed to offer mammograms to women. Even so, Komen wanted this break between the two women’s groups to go smoothly, without accusations of political bias or media furor for either organization.

Because of such wishes, prior to the media blitz launched by Planned Parenthood, Komen worked closely with Hilary Rosen, a communications and media consultant at a firm called SKDKnickerbocker, and Brendan Daly, a PR consultant from a firm called Ogilvy. As Handel explains, both these consultants had close ties with Planned Parenthood and many of their political friends.  

Rosen’s partner at SKDKnickerbocker is Anita Dunn, former head of communications for the Obama Administration. Many within Komen were well aware of Rosen’s “heavy hitter” status in DC, her frequent meetings at the White House and her close relationship with Planned Parenthood. For Daly’s part, he had worked with Cecile Richards, at Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s office, and identifies himself on his resume as a Democratic strategist.

According to Handel, though many in Komen saw these connections as beneficial in the navigating of this break—“Komen never saw Planned Parenthood as our enemy,”—these consultants may have aided the coordinated attack Planned Parenthood launched.

“Much was made about me being a conservative and that my personal views drove the decision within Komen, which was not true. But if my personal beliefs were fair game,” she continues, “why weren’t those who had views on the other side of the aisle subject to the same scrutiny?”
Her reporting and support of the facts of Komen’s decision make it clear that it was not beliefs regarding abortion that dictated Komen’s funding decision with regard to Planned Parenthood. 
Though Handel was painted by the media and others as a staunch pro-lifer, Georgia Right to Life declined to endorse her in her previous run for Georgia governor primarily because of her acceptance of in-vitro fertilization, along with her acceptance of abortion in the case of rape and incest.. 

Importantly, Handel’s telling of her story adds to another growing narrative in America—that women’s views on these issues are not as easily categorized as Planned Parenthood and friends would like to claim.

The Women Speak For Themselves movement -- which I have been assisting from its early days -- is another example of this push-back against the narrative that unequivocal support for abortion, contraception and reproductive rights on demand defines a person who cares about women. WSFT members are as diverse as they come in age, religion, socioeconomic background, and positions on contraception, abortion, and other related issues (though as an organization it’s unwaveringly pro-life). But they are united in insisting that women can think for themselves and speak for themselves on these issues.

Handel’s description of the bullying tactics we are up against, but her fighting spirit will strike a chord with the many women who are sick of being “spoken for” by the reproductive health political establishment. As Handel says: “Planned Parenthood brought Komen to its knees, counting on no-one having the guts to stand up to them. Well, what Planned Parenthood didn’t count on is me.”

Meg T. McDonnell is the Communications Director for the Chiaroscuro Foundation. 
The Chiaroscuro Institute, an independent public charity related to the Chiaroscuro Foundation, has partnered with Karen Handel and her publisher in promotion of her book.

First published by MercatorNet.

This article is published by Meg T. McDonnell and MercatorNet.com under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact MercatorNet for permission and fees.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Church, State, and Marriage in the UK

Paul Adams

The previous post by Michael Cook on an important legal opinion about the impact of the UK Government's planned redefinition of marriage raises some interesting questions.

The Church, like English and American common law as I understand it and the Natural Law, regards marriage as one of those God-given institutions that precedes the state and does not depend on the state for its definition or permission to exist.  For the Catholic Church and the Orthodox, it is a sacrament like baptism and the Eucharist.  The Church could not simply stop celebrating this sacrament any more than any other as a way of avoiding legal action or persecution.  The state could, of course, refuse to recognize, for civil and legal purposes, marriages celebrated in church before a priest, though such a move (like SSM itself) would not be politically popular.

Such a cutting off of civil from religious marriage would be more complicated for the Church of England because the state controls the Church and imposes laws on it about such things as whom it must marry.  It is not clear that the C of E would have a legal basis, though there is certainly a theological and ecclesial one, for refusing to marry two people of the same sex.  The two would be physically incapable of consummating their "marriage," of course.  There could be no one-flesh union in a conjugal act that was open to new life.  Any children the pair acquired would not and could not be the result of such a union and necessarily would grow up without at least one of his or her natural parents.  But if the state insists than such an intrinsically barren union must be celebrated as a marriage, how can the state's church refuse?  Woolly and accommodationist to secularism and the sexual revolution as the C of E (and even more its American partners) may be, it seems there must be a point where the body must heed the anti-totalitarian principle enunciated by Christ himself, to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's.

If the state imposes its own secularist and anti-Christian sexual morality on the Catholic Church, the Church must and will resist, no matter the cost in terms of persecution.  Serious Christians as well as Orthodox Jews and Muslims doubtless will do likewise.  The C of E is more problematic.  A product of the state against the universal Church from the start, it seems to be approaching a point where it can no longer plausibly claim to be both Christian and the state church, with the monarch as its head on earth.  Disestablishment may not save the C of E from the persecution that faces the rest of us but it might enable it to maintain some integrity in the process.

How Does It Harm You? Let Me Count the Ways

Could British teachers be sacked for opposing gay marriage? Probably, says QC

Teachers and chaplains who openly oppose the UK Government's redefinition of marriage face being disciplined, or sacked for their views if the law is changed, warns a top legal expert. The detailed legal opinion from Aidan O'Neill, a senior QC and expert on civil liberties and human rights, commissioned by the Coalition for Marriage, concludes that legalising gay marriage will affect the lives of millions of ordinary people.

Mr O'Neill warns that the plans to tear up the centuries-old definition of marriage will have far-reaching consequences, affecting schools, foster caring, adoption, the use of public buildings and even the careers of individuals. In the most alarming section of his assessment, he warns that teachers and chaplains who work in hospitals, or even the armed forces, could face being sacked under equalities legislation.

Asked about the effect of redefining marriage on schools, Mr O'Neill writes that if gay marriage became law in England and Wales, a school would be within its legal rights to dismiss a teacher if he, or she, refused to use material in the classroom that endorses gay marriage. This would include a teacher refusing, on the grounds of religious or philosophical conscience, to use a storybook about gay marriage called "King and King".

He also warns that parents who object to gay marriage being taught to their children across the curriculum will have no right to withdraw their child from lessons they disapprove of, for reasons of conscience.

Mr O'Neill also warned that Government promises to protect marriage celebrants, who object to the current definition of marriage being rewritten, are meaningless.

Asked if those conducting religious marriage ceremonies could be taken to court for refusing to carry out a gay wedding, Mr O'Neill replies "Yes". The QC, based at Matrix Chambers, states:

"If marriage is opened to allow two individuals, regardless of their gender or sex, to marry one another, then Article 12 ECHR will apply both to same sex and opposite sex marriage. Any attempt in law, then, to differentiate between same sex and opposite sex marriage would in principle be covered by the non-discrimination provisions of Article 14 ECHR and any differentiation in treatment between opposite sex and same sex marriage would be subject to particularly strict scrutiny by the Strasbourg Court and the offending State would have to show particularly convincing and weighty reasons to justify any such a difference in treatment."

And in a strongly worded section Mr O'Neill says that churches would be in a stronger legal position if they were to stop conducting weddings, bring to an end more than a thousand years of tradition.

"Churches might indeed better protect themselves against the possibility of any such litigation by deciding not to provide marriage services at all, since there could be no complaint then of discrimination in their provision of services as between same sex and opposite sex couples."

Controversially, Mr O'Neill also says that the Church of England would be in a stronger position to fight equality laws if it were 'disestablished'.

"And, in principle, the Church of England might be better protected under any such claim if it were disestablished in the sense that its clergy were no longer placed under formal legal obligations by the general law to solemnise the marriages of all and any person otherwise eligible to marry under the general law, since then it would be more able to claim the protection of Article 9 ECHR and the principle of religious liberty as against the requirements of the State rather than as present where, at least in matters of the solemnisation of marriage, the position of the established church appears closer to being an arm or department of the State."

The strength and clarity of the advice from Mr O'Neill, who has a strong track record of supporting gay rights, will shock many on both sides of the debate and reignite calls for the Government to publish its own legal advice.

Leaked communications between the Scottish law officers and their English counterparts have already highlighted concerns that Alex Salmond's administration has about the inability of the Scottish courts to protect clergy from legal challenge. Dr Sharon James, an expert on family policy and a Coalition for Marriage (C4M) spokesperson, described the legal picture as "a disaster waiting to happen" and a "lawyers' charter".

"Looking at the effect this change will have on children and parents, taking absolute control of a child's education from a parent and handing it to a local authority is an unprecedented assault on the rights of parents. This is a dangerous path to go down and one that should be resisted. Redefining marriage would also demand that social workers ask prospective foster carer applicants if they support the new definition - and could halt their application if they do not. Supporting civil partnerships, but not gay marriage, would almost certainly fail the equality and discrimination policies, and could prevent an individual from becoming a foster parent."

The legal advice from Mr O'Neill also says that problems could also arise if a church decided to hire a council-owned community centre each week for a youth club. If the church's website stated that it will only conduct opposite-sex marriages, the council would be within its legal rights to stop the church from hiring the community centre, as it would breach equality laws. Dr Sharon James continued:

"Mr O'Neill's expert summary is incontrovertible proof that legalising gay marriage is not only a legislative minefield but an unparalleled attack on the freedom of conscience Britons have under the law. The redefinition of marriage would ride roughshod over a person's right to support marriage as the exclusive union between one man and one woman, whether that person be a teacher, a parent, a foster carer or a marriage registrar.

"The only winners from a change in marriage law will be lawyers, who will make a fortune out of what would rapidly become a legal mess of untold proportions. I hope the irony is not lost on the Government that their misguided campaign to legalise gay marriage would create a society with fewer freedoms than before."

First published by Michael Cook and MercatorNet.com under a Creative Commons license on the Conjugality blog.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Sorry Spectacle: The End of the Democratic Party as We Knew It

Paul Adams

I have never been a member of either Democratic or Republican party and do not even have a vote.  But I was shocked four years ago by the political messianism in which good friends were caught up, as well as the talk of Obama by apparently sane and sober public figures that spoke of Obama in terms normally reserved for messiahs.  This phenomenon has been usefully tracked by a site that poses the question, "Is Barack Obama the Messiah?"

After four years of failure, unprecedented debt, new military adventures, and countless broken promises, the faith has become hard for all but the most deluded to sustain.  Few politicians are able to accomplish what they promise, of course.  They simply lack the control over economy or society, or the information, or wisdom.  And in Obama's case, the much ridiculed promises about healing the planet and stemming the rise of the oceans were bound to make actual achievements seem minuscule compared with the promises and hopes.

But few political leaders have amassed such a record of lies and hypocrisy in so short a time as President Obama.  Here is a sampling:

Peggy Noonan has an insightful assessment of the Democrats' convention.  Her most important point is about how the failures of the last four years have led the party, not to more modesty, let alone the once-promised spirit of bipartisan cooperation, but to an unusual extremism.
The fight over including a single mention of God in the platform—that was extreme. The original removal of the single mention by the platform committee—extreme. The huge "No!" vote on restoring the mention of God, and including the administration's own stand on Jerusalem—that wasn't liberal, it was extreme. Comparing the Republicans to Nazis—extreme. The almost complete absence of a call to help education by facing down the powers that throw our least defended children under the school bus—this was extreme, not mainstream.
The sheer strangeness of all the talk about abortion, abortion, contraception, contraception. I am old enough to know a wedge issue when I see one, but I've never seen a great party build its entire public persona around one. Big speeches from the heads of Planned Parenthood and NARAL, HHS Secretary and abortion enthusiast Kathleen Sebelius and, of course, Sandra Fluke.
"Republicans shut me out of a hearing on contraception," Ms. Fluke said. But why would anyone have included a Georgetown law student who never worked her way onto the national stage until she was plucked, by the left, as a personable victim?
What a fabulously confident and ingenuous-seeming political narcissist Ms. Fluke is. She really does think—and her party apparently thinks—that in a spending crisis with trillions in debt and many in need, in a nation in existential doubt as to its standing and purpose, in a time when parents struggle to buy the good sneakers for the kids so they're not embarrassed at school . . . that in that nation the great issue of the day, and the appropriate focus of our concern, is making other people pay for her birth-control pills. That's not a stand, it's a non sequitur. She is not, as Rush Limbaugh oafishly, bullyingly said, a slut. She is a ninny, a narcissist and a fool.
And she was one of the great faces of the party in Charlotte. That is extreme. Childish, too.
Something else, and it had to do with tone. I remember the Republicans in Tampa bashing the president, hard, but not the entire Democratic Party. In Charlotte they bashed Mitt Romney, but they bashed the Republican Party harder. If this doesn't strike you as somewhat unsettling, then you must want another four years of all war all the time between the parties. I don't think the American people want that. Because, actually, they're not extreme.

It is not good for either party or the country that the Democrats have given up the big tent and become resolutely, brazenly, triumphally the party of death, narcissism, nihilism, and the disintegration of marriage and family.   As Robert George has pointed out, by the rhetoric of the party's new same-sex "marriage" orthodoxy, their own leader President Obama has been either a bigot or a liar for most of his presidency.  Pro-life liberals and Democrats like Robert Casey or political successors of the late Sargent Shriver seem to have become irretrievably homeless while the party, as Noonan says, builds its whole public persona around the likes of NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the advocates of repressing religious freedom so that women will no longer have to buy their own contraceptive and abortifacient drugs.   What used to see itself as the party of concern for the poor, oppressed, the unemployed and homeless has subordinated everything to an absolute right of mothers to rip apart or poison their babies who are waiting to be born, in the name of a supposed right to reproductive health care that is anti-reproductive, anti-health (not least the health of one of the two patients involved in a pregnancy), and anything but caring.    Meanwhile hardly a word or thought for our children and children's children who are being loaded down with crippling debt exceeding all previous public debt combined by many times over as their educational, spiritual, and moral needs go ever more neglected.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Paralympics and UK Abortion Law

ZE12090405 - 2012-09-04
Permalink: http://www.zenit.org/article-35463?l=english


Games Coordinator Calls on British Government to Change Legislation

LONDON, SEPT. 4, 2012 (Zenit.org).- James Parker, Catholic coordinator of the 14th Summer Paralympic Games, called on Christians and all who value human life to challenge leaders and politicians to change Great Britain's "discriminatory and outdated abortion laws." 
Parker serves as the first ever lay Catholic chaplain to serve at the games. He made this call in a pre-recorded interview with Vatican Radio.
As the Paralympic Games draw to an end, Parker spoke of his time working with the Games and directly with some of the athletes. "My own experience of the Paralympic Village, the heavily guarded home to all the athletes and officials alongside the Olympic Park, is that it is a sacred place," he said. 
Saying that while the village is strewn with wheelchairs, crutches, bodies of every shape and size, there is "a vibrant tangible passion for life, that not even the greatest town or city could boast."
"The joy in the Village is palpable," he said. "It is a place where everyone is celebrated and honored whether a medallist or not, and each person is in service of their neighbor. I am constantly reminded of the words of St. Lawrence when, in the year 258, he was commanded by the Emperor Valerian to bring to him the Church’s treasury. Days later he brought before the Emperor the poor, crippled, and maimed and stated: 'Behold the jewels of the Church!' He was then martyred for such a simple action."
Speaking about the lead up the Games, Parker mentioned that "we see the word 'Superhumans' on our billboards and yet Paralympians are no different to any other human being."
"What is astounding is that Britain is enabling the eyes of the world to be opened to the giftedness and potential of those with disabilities through its hosting of the Paralympic Games. However, its own laws vehemently and shockingly discriminate against any new life in the womb that might possibly be affected by a physical handicap, genetic problems or a mental defect."
Parker also noted that in conversations with a number of Paralympians during the games, he was astonished to discover that many didn't realize that had they or their teammates been conceived today in Britain, they would most likely be aborted. "If Britain wishes to retain its place towards the head of the medals table at future Paralympic Games in decades to come then it needs to seriously consider changing its laws to stop discriminating against what is presently termed as an ‘unacceptable quality of life.' Games aside, any society that wishes to be healthy needs to increasingly value disability and non-disability equally," he said. 
“The Christian community needs as a whole, along with others who share our beliefs on the dignity of human life, to continue to take the lead and, like St. Lawrence, to stridently work towards changing Britain’s discriminatory and outdated abortion laws," Parker concluded. "If this issue is not addressed as we wave goodbye to the Paralympic Games from our shores, then it is hard to imagine when another opportunity of this sort will pass our way when British society and the world as a whole is celebrating the incredulous achievements of those with disabilities."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Clint, High Platform Drifting

by Cornelius Sullivan

Writers and commentators reveal a great deal about themselves when they express unease and even high anxiety about Clint Eastwood’s unscripted creativity at the Republican Convention. “Unscripted creativity” and “political convention” are seldom seen together. It was so unlike all television. We can all complete the sentences of politicians, weather casters, news anchors, and speakers in advertisements. This was different, we really did not know what was coming next, we had to pay attention.

It was a new and unsettling experience for those multitudes who are not often exposed to creativity or art where the form and content may be more than predictably banal. Film critic Roger Ebert should know better. Yes, there were lapses in audio and camera work, no close ups, no zooming in.
This was not Cinemascope. But then again, Ebert has dropped the ball more than a few times without Siskel to help him make sense.  

If you read the content of the not-speech performance it makes rhetorical sense. For those who agree with Eastwood’s politics it’s too bad that they say it’s too bad that he took away from Romney’s speech. Because, so did a tropical storm, and a myriad of other real life events, that cannot be scripted, not scripted by control freaks. There is no controlling responses on Youtube and Twitter, they measure interest. 

The liberals couldn’t handle the High Plains Drifter saying in plain language, “When somebody does not do the job we gotta let ‘em go.” 

Geraldo Rivera said that Ann Romney was biting her nails. She did not, that is a silly sexist remark. He should have his journalistic license revoked. Does that bizarre guy claim to be a mind reader now? Juan Williams could tell him that “corporate wives” don’t bite their nails.

I saw a convention that highlighted some young female and male stars, that offered some new ideas, and that was not mean spirited. Let’s see if the Democrats can refrain from saying that Romney killed a woman or that Paul Ryan threw his grandmother off a cliff. We learned that Romney helps people but does not talk about it, and that Ryan did, in fact, take care of his own grandmother.