Thursday, March 26, 2020

Shutting down the church

I've been thinking about our churches being closed, especially in light of VA Governor Northam's insistence that churches be prosecuted for not following his directives. A lot of people on both sides of the issue have made some good points (and some very misinformed points).

First off, no civil leader has the authority to close churches. Period. Northan can rage all he wants. This is still the USA. Governors are making arbitrary decisions of what businesses are "essential." Liquor stores are essential, Pot stores are essential, Abortuaries are essential. Churches, not essential (cue GIF of angry Greta Thunberg).

The bishops, on the other hand, absolutely have the authority to close churches and cancel services. For the most part they have done so. This is problematic. Apparently the bishops don't feel church is essential. Nor do I see the USCCB pushing back and arguing that churches are more essential than abortuaries and pot shops. Instead I see more complaints about money, and pleas to give online than I see complaints about closing doors. In my state there are multiple lawsuits from industries who consider themselves essential but were deemed non-essential: gun stores, gun ranges, bicycle repair shops, phone stores, livestock feed businesses... but not a word from the bishops that public worship is essential. What do you believe is most important?

Before the lock down began in my area, our bishop gave dispensation from attending Sunday mass for those affected by the virus, and asked vulnerable people to stay home. The mass that I attended that week had less than one third of the usual number of attendees (my estimate - I don't have official numbers). We were all able to "social distance" effectively. I don't see why a church that holds 1200 people now can't hold more than 10 for "social distancing." I could fit 200 people in there and the place would still look empty. So why not?

My church is still open for Adoration (which is being held in the 1200 seat portion of the building). This is a blessing, but surprisingly the numbers of people there are no more than usual, maybe less than usual for Lent. But again, no problem social distancing. We are also open for Confession. However, many churches are not offering Confession and I've read some are denying the Extreme Unction (aka Anointing of the Sick) in some cases. These are absolutely essential, and should be employed even more now, rather than less.

The question for our bishops, and for society as a whole, is "what do you believe is most important?" If you believe that Confession actually forgives sins, and people need to have their sins forgiven, then you will offer Confession. Likewise Extreme Unction. If you believe that it is all a sham to make people feel good, then of course, don't expose people to any danger by providing these. Likewise, if you believe the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, then by all means masses should be celebrated. If not, who cares if churches are closed? Some parishes are offering outdoor masses, where the faithful attend in their cars. I don't see why that isn't being practiced wherever possible, yet most dioceses don't seem to be permitting it. What do you believe is most important?

Non-religious people say (and some Catholics falsely believe) that they cannot get the virus by receiving the Eucharist. That is not true. But just as I would stay by my wife if she were sick with the virus, even though I could catch it from her, I would risk going to mass, even if I could catch the virus there. Of course such a statement brings immediate scorn from non-believers. What right do I have to engage in behavior that could use up valuable medical resources? The same "right" you have to engage in behavior that could use up valuable medical resources, like homosexual and other "risky" sexual acts, smoking (tobacco or marijuana), tattoos, piercings, etc.

" If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land." - 2 Chron 10:13-14
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“Return to Me with all your heart,
And with fasting, weeping and mourning;And rend your heart and not your garments.”
Now return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger, abounding in loving kindness
And relenting of evil." - Joel 2:13-14 

Sunday, December 22, 2019


OK, nobody asked for my opinion so here it is.

As I understand it, president Trump is being impeached on 2 articles. First, that he abused power, seconds that he "obstructed congress."

On the first charge, the claim is tampering with the 2020 election:
He did so through a scheme or course of conduct that included soliciting the Government of Ukraine to publicly announce investigations that would benefit his reelection, harm the election prospects of a political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to his advantage. 
Let's take a closer look at that. The transcript of the call was made public because the Democrats demanded it.I see nothing in the transcript where he asks that the investigation be made public, only that the investigation continue. So, isn't it the Democrats who made it public, and are therefore culpable of the transgression? Or maybe I am misconstruing something... but let's grant that the claims are correct for a second.

It is not a crime for the president to ask a foreign government to investigate crimes; President Trump's "crime" according to the article of impeachment, is that the investigation would embarrass a candidate in the 2020 election... but isn't that exactly what the Democrats are doing? Making a very public investigation into a candidate in the 202 election to benefit their candidate, harm the election prospects of their political opponent, and influence the 2020 United States Presidential election to their advantage? I mean if investigating a political rival in a way which can humiliate them and influence the next election makes one unfit for office, then every Democrat who called for Trump's investigation and impeachment is equally unfit for office using the same criteria.
The second article of impeachment claims that president Trump "obstructed congress" - what does that mean, exactly? According to the Congressional Research Service, obstruction of congress consists of:
obstruction of judicial proceedings (18 U.S.C. 1503), witness tampering (18 U.S.C. 1512), witness retaliation (18 U.S.C. 1513), obstruction of congressional or administrative proceedings (18 U.S.C. 1505), conspiracy to defraud the United States (18 U.S.C. 371), and contempt (a creature of statute, rule and common law).
On the face of it, it looks bad. President Trump is accused of ignoring lawful congressional subpoenas. But is that what happened? No. President Trump claimed that the subpoenas were not valid, and that he would comply if a court ordered him to. Rather than appealing to a judicial process, congress ignored his request and accused him of ignoring their request.
IANAL, but I know that there are limits to what one can subpoena, and particularly when a branch of government is involved. According to this article, SCOTUS is ruling (likely in Trump's favor) on a very similar issue of subpoenas.
Ultimately this is a matter for the impeachment court to decide, which is the senate. The fact that the Democrats won't release the charges to the senate so that the president can be tried is a clear indication that the impeachment proceedings are intended to humiliate the president, rather than to actually redress a crime. Of course, that brings me back to the first article of impeachment.

It is unlikely that 2/3 of the senate will vote to remove the president, considering that not even all the Democrats in the house voted for impeachment. I don't know if any of these things are objectively impeachable, but if they are, there's clear evidence that the house Democrats are as guilty as the president, if not more so.

On the other hand, the Democrats have "won" this round. The government is in shambles and the country is divided under the Trump administration due to their actions. And maybe the Republicans won something too. I don't personally like president Trump, but this circus is so far out of the bounds of decency it makes me almost want to vote for him, just to not appear to support this kind of contempt for Constitutional procedings.

Friday, November 15, 2019

There is no such thing as gun rights

I keep hearing people on both sides of the "gun debate" talking about "gun rights." I'm here to tell you that there are NO gun rights. Period. That's all.

You see, guns don't have rights, people do. So let's change the conversation from "gun rights" to "self defense rights." After all, it's self evidently wrong to stop someone from defending themselves. And that's what the gun control crowd is really after, not guns. They want to remove the right of citizens to defend themselves.

If the issue were "public safety" they wouldn't even be talking about gun control, because as public safety issues go, it's a minor issue, unless you live in Chicago, Baltimore, or one of the other cities where gun control has been tried and failed.

If the issue were guns, then they wouldn't also push other laws to keep honest people from defending themselves without guns. For instance, New York City just passed a ban on "undetectable weapons." Sounds like a good things right? But what it really does is prevents women from possessing one of the most common, effective non-lethal defense against rape, the cat self defense key ring (see photo above). Likewise, it is illegal to buy pepper spray in New York City (and no, hair spray is not a self defense weapon). The New York Knife show had to move to New Jersey because so many ordinary knives are illegal in New York City.

But New York City isn't the only place infringing on the rights of self defense. In New Jersey a sling shot is an illegal weapon (I'm not kidding). New Jersey also has "duty to retreat" laws which say that you cannot defend yourself, in any way, even in your own house unless you can prove that you could not flee the scene. Sorry, but that armed home invader is not an "unwelcome house visitor."

All of these laws (and many more) infringe on our rights to self defense, and don't involve firearms at all. They involve either criminalizing a method of self defense or favoring the "rights" of the attacker over that of the victim. Let's stop arguing "gun control" and start talking about victims' rights and the right to defend oneself.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Sorry Bishop...

I have heard the saying on the right not only from good hearted, well meaning Christians, but also from the pulpit, and from the USCCB itself one too many times. Not that they care what I think, but I need to get this off my chest anyway. The problem with the statement is not that it is false, but that it is a straw man. The implied (or often expressed) followup to the statement is that if you are not a communist or socialist, or if you are patriotic, then you don't want people to have healthcare or food. That is not true at all. Let's not confuse lack of support of a government program or political party be confused with a lack of wanting to solve a problem.

Sorry, but government-run healthcare, and in general federal government run programs are NOT part of nor are they even compatible with Catholic social justice. Let me explain.

The catechism defines social justice as:
1928 Society ensures social justice when it provides the conditions that allow associations or individuals to obtain what is their due, according to their nature and their vocation. Social justice is linked to the common good and the exercise of authority.
and goes on to add
1929 Social justice can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of man. The person represents the ultimate end of society, which is ordered to him:
What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt.35
1930 Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of every authority: by flouting them, or refusing to recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its own moral legitimacy.36 If it does not respect them, authority can rely only on force or violence to obtain obedience from its subjects. It is the Church's role to remind men of good will of these rights and to distinguish them from unwarranted or false claims.
1931 Respect for the human person proceeds by way of respect for the principle that "everyone should look upon his neighbor (without any exception) as 'another self,' above all bearing in mind his life and the means necessary for living it with dignity."37 No legislation could by itself do away with the fears, prejudices, and attitudes of pride and selfishness which obstruct the establishment of truly fraternal societies. Such behavior will cease only through the charity that finds in every man a "neighbor," a brother.
1932 The duty of making oneself a neighbor to others and actively serving them becomes even more urgent when it involves the disadvantaged, in whatever area this may be. "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me."38
1933 This same duty extends to those who think or act differently from us. The teaching of Christ goes so far as to require the forgiveness of offenses. He extends the commandment of love, which is that of the New Law, to all enemies.39 Liberation in the spirit of the Gospel is incompatible with hatred of one's enemy as a person, but not with hatred of the evil that he does as an enemy. 
The problem with those words is they are very vague. What is someone's "due"? What rights flow from man's dignity as a creature? It is very easy to interpret those words, as many in the USCCB and in America, as supporting the notion of government run health care, government run education, unrestricted illegal immigration, government run welfare programs - in short a socialist state with nearly unlimited economic control. That is not what the catechism is saying at all.

To see what's really being talked about we need to go read the documents cited in the text above; in particular Pacem in Terris. I encourage the reader to read the whole encyclical, but here are some excerpts (ellipses where I have elided parts of the text for brevity's sake, I have emboldened certain key phrase you can read to skim over this):
11. But first We must speak of man's rights. Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of ill health...
Rights Pertaining to Moral and Cultural Values
12. Moreover, man has a natural right to be respected. He has a right to his good name. ... He has the right, also, to be accurately informed about public events.
13. He has the natural right to share in the benefits of culture, and hence to receive a good general education...
The Right to Worship God According to One's Conscience
14. Also among man's rights is that of being able to worship God ... and to profess his religion both in private and in public. ...
The Right to Choose Freely One's State in Life
15. Human beings have also the right to choose for themselves the kind of life which appeals to them...
16. The family, founded upon marriage freely contracted, one and indissoluble, must be regarded as the natural, primary cell of human society. ...
17. Of course, the support and education of children is a right which belongs primarily to the parents
Economic Rights
18. In the economic sphere, it is evident that a man has the inherent right not only to be given the opportunity to work, but also to be allowed the exercise of personal initiative in the work he does
19. ...Women must be accorded such conditions of work as are consistent with their needs and responsibilities as wives and mothers....
21. As a further consequence of man's nature, he has the right to the private ownership of property, including that of productive goods. ...
The Right of Meeting and Association
23. Men are by nature social, and consequently they have the right to meet together...
The Right to Emigrate and Immigrate
25. Again, every human being has the right to freedom of movement and of residence within the confines of his own State. When there are just reasons in favor of it, he must be permitted to emigrate to other countries and take up residence there....
Political Rights
26. Finally, man's personal dignity involves his right to take an active part in public life...
27. As a human person he is entitled to the legal protection of his rights,...
Much of it sounds an awful lot like the US Constitution. And if you stop reading the encyclical there you could erroneously come to the conclusion that Pope John XXIII. Sorry for the length of these passages. Same rules as above:
28. The natural rights of which We have so far been speaking are inextricably bound up with as many duties, all applying to one and the same person...
29. Thus, for example, the right to live involves the duty to preserve one's life; the right to a decent standard of living, the duty to live in a becoming fashion; the right to be free to seek out the truth, the duty to devote oneself to an ever deeper and wider search for it.
Reciprocity of Rights and Duties Between Persons
30. Once this is admitted, it follows that in human society one man's natural right gives rise to a corresponding duty in other men; .... Hence, to claim one's rights and ignore one's duties, or only half fulfill them...
Mutual Collaboration
32. ... it is useless to admit that a man has a right to the necessities of life, unless we also do all in our power to supply him with means sufficient for his livelihood.
33. Hence society must...  provide men with abundant resources. ...
Sounds great so far... here's where it all goes south for the USCCB, globalists, etc.

An Attitude of Responsibility
34. Man's personal dignity requires besides that he enjoy freedom and be able to make up his own mind when he acts. In his association with his fellows, therefore, there is every reason why his recognition of rights, observance of duties, and many-sided collaboration with other men, should be primarily a matter of his own personal decision. Each man should act on his own initiative, conviction, and sense of responsibility, not under the constant pressure of external coercion or enticement. There is nothing human about a society that is welded together by force. Far from encouraging, as it should, the attainment of man's progress and perfection, it is merely an obstacle to his freedom.
The encyclical goes on like that for a while. There are a couple of other paragraphs that I would like to point out:
48. Hence, a regime which governs solely or mainly by means of threats and intimidation or promises of reward, provides men with no effective incentive to work for the common good. And even if it did, it would certainly be offensive to the dignity of free and rational human beings. Authority is before all else a moral force. For this reason the appeal of rulers should be to the individual conscience, to the duty which every man has of voluntarily contributing to the common good. But since all men are equal in natural dignity, no man has the capacity to force internal compliance on another. Only God can do that, for He alone scrutinizes and judges the secret counsels of the heart. 
Responsibilities of the Public Authority, and Rights and Duties of Individuals
60. It is generally accepted today that the common good is best safeguarded when personal rights and duties are guaranteed. The chief concern of civil authorities must therefore be to ensure that these rights are recognized, respected, co-ordinated, defended and promoted, and that each individual is enabled to perform his duties more easily. For "to safeguard the inviolable rights of the human person, and to facilitate the performance of his duties, is the principal duty of every public authority.
I have a saying along those lines "there is no grace in paying taxes." We have come to a point where people think only in material terms. If we take money from the rich and give it to the poor, that is justice. But that is injustice. The rich man has not done a good act, nor has anyone. And the poor do not need our money as much as our care.

Let me make this perfectly clear. According to the principles of Catholic social justice, the duty of government is NOT to provide for the poor, but to ensure the rights and freedoms of its citizens to do so is respected. The role of the individual is to provide for the poor. Government programs walk over and inhibit the rights and duties of both the provider and receivers of material goods.

Thomas Sowell explains the false notion of social justice more succinctly and elegantly than I can.

Catholic social justice consists of caring for the needs of your neighbor. You, yourself, caring for the needs of your neighbor. Forcing everyone to pay money to a (corrupt) government in the hopes that they will be a moral force is folly, yet the USCCB and other well meaning but ignorant Christians keep fighting for programs like government run healthcare, then are "shocked" and dismayed to find out they have give up the right to life of the unborn and elderly. What exactly did they think would happen?

The USCCB support government programs to stop sex trafficking. Sounds good until you realize that they also receive the money and run some of the programs. Add to that the fact that they oppose border restrictions, ensuring a lively and continued source of sex trafficking and it begins to look less like social justice and more like self serving.

And as someone pointed out, each and every government dollar comes with strings that no religious value be attached to it. So far from preaching the Gospel and fulfilling the great commission to "make disciples of all nations" every time the USCCB endorses a government program rather than taking the initiative and enable Catholics to do the work privately, they restrict and opposes the only legitimate mission they have in the world.

So yes, I do want people to have health care and food. But unlike you I am will to do it myself and unwilling to take money from others by force to give to an organization which disrespects and degrades individuals. What are you willing to do in the name of social justice?

Monday, September 2, 2019

Thoughts on Mass Violence, Guns, etc.

Once again there is a mass shooting. Once again there are calls for more federal gun control laws. Why not? We've been told that the US has the most guns in the world, and that these kinds of things don't happen in other countries, and that the laws proposed are "common sense" and will protect us from this kind of violence, if it weren't for the NRA lobbyists controlling things. I'd like to take this opportunity to explore some facts.

First off, yes, the US does have more guns than any other country. Almost one third of the US population owns guns. Even here in gun-phobic NJ one eight of the population owns guns. But the US is not unique in having mass killings, or even mass shootings. In fact the US ranks 66th in mass shootings, and all of the countries with more mass shootings than the US have stricter gun laws, most of them already have the proposed US gun control laws. Also, anti gun groups outspend the NRA on lobbying.

Guns are involved in some 35000 deaths a year, most of them suicides. Of the 14000 gun involved homicides in the US each year, most are gang or drug related. All rifles account for less than 300 deaths and mass killings account for less than 200 deaths. In Chicago alone in the past weekend, more people have been shot in gang-related violence than in all the recent mass shootings combined. Why do the mass shootings make headlines and nobody talks about Chicago? Because the mass shootings happen to the "right" kind of people (rich whites) and the Chicago gang violence happens to the people we don't care about (mostly poor blacks). Yes, I'm bringing in the race card here, because it fits. If Chicago gang violence affected rich people at concerts and malls it wold make national headlines as well.

I'm not suggesting mass shootings are "ok" or we shouldn't care about them, I'm saying we should care more about the poor people being massacred in our inner city streets than we do about the slight risks of our celebrities and the upper class.

If the goal is to save lives, the laws should focus on suicides, gangs, drugs and hand guns. Yet NONE of the proposed gun laws address these issue at all. This excellent article points out that the following gun laws cannot affect the gun suicide rate at all:
  • Magazine size restrictions: You only need a magazine size of “one” to kill yourself.
  • Waiting Periods: Statistics do not show that people buy guns to commit suicide. They’re either use one they already have, or choose a different method.
  • Banning certain classes of firearms, such as semi-automatic rifles or handguns: You only need the most basic functioning firearm possible to kill yourself.
  • Tax bullets: You only need one bullet to kill yourself.
  • Blanket gun confiscation: Won’t work, and they admit it won’t work, except all those times when they don’t.
  • Mandatory gun confiscation of depressed people: Terrible, terrible idea, because it would only cause fewer people to go to the doctor for their depression symptoms, making the problem worse instead of better.
I will note "Red Flag" laws fall into this last category. More on them later...

Let's revisit the mass shooting problem for a moment. Of all the mass shootings I am aware of, the murderer either got his gun legally, passing a background check, or was unable to pass a background check and so got the gun illegally. None of them. Zero. Not one, bought a gun legally without a background check. Yet we're told "universal" background checks will solve the problem.

On the contrary, universal background checks ARE a problem. First off, they result in a de facto $100 tax per gun, meaning that they disproportionately prevent poor people from defending themselves (like the poor people in Chicago). Secondly, when implemented strictly, as in Washington state, they prevent safe storage of guns and gun safety. Thirdly, they have been shown to be ineffective.

Out of some 30000 people who failed a background check in the past few years, almost all of them have been mistakes (e.g. law abiding citizens denied their rights) and of the few cases where a felony was committed nobody has been prosecuted. The conclusion is that there is no evidence showing that background checks affect crime. Criminals do not purchase guns through legal means.

What about an "Assault Weapon" ban. The first problem is that there is no such thing as an "assault weapon." There is such a thing as an "assault rifle" which is strictly controlled in the US, banned in some states, and even in states where they are legal, purchasers must go through an 18 month federal process of background checks and paperwork. Assault weapons, on the other hand, are a made up political term which varies, but usually includes any gun which is popular, in order to ban the widest variety of guns. Also note that the US had a nation-wide assault weapon and "high capacity" magazine ban in effect for ten years. The result was that there was no decrease in crime or deaths. In other words, these laws provably do not save lives.

What about so-called "Red Flag" laws? Surely if citizens could point out the violent people in their midst and have their guns confiscated we would all be safer. No. First off, even without red flag laws, citizens can report to the police people who they believe are going to harm themselves or others, and the police are authorized to take appropriate steps. In the case of the most recent mass murder, for instance, he threatened a neighbor with a rifle and police were called. Ultimately nothing was done. Police couldn't find the man and it was not considered worth following up, apparently. In other words, existing laws were not followed.

Rather than saving lives, I am aware of at least one case in which red flag laws have killed people. It stands to reason, if you are a law abiding citizen, who owns guns to defend yourself from a home invasion, when police execute a non-knock raid in the wee hours, that you are going to think it is a home invasion. That kind of thing will get people killed, either by the homeowner mistakenly shooting police or by police shooting the homeowner. The way most of these laws are written they are a license to legally SWAT gun owners, with expected results.

To make matters worse, red flag laws allow victims' families to sue people who could have "red flagged" shooters, meaning that you can be held responsible for a coworker or neighbor who commits a crime, and also ensuring that the maximum number of people are falsely flagged. What happens when one is falsely red flagged? Well, assuming they are not killed in the police raid, they need to spend about $30000 in legal fees to get their lives and property restored (probably damaged, as various cases have shown), and of course the states' costs in all this come form the tax payers. No, red flag laws, apart from being unconstitutional, are a bad idea and will not stop criminals.

What changes will provable reduce mass shootings? First off, stop rewarding the murderers with fame and fortune. Almost every mass murderer has been a copycat killer, and many have even stated so in their manifestos. They see this act as their shot (no pun intended) at making a difference in the world and being remembered forever.

Second, get rid of gun-free zones, and allow national concealed carry. Some 98% of all mass shootings occur in gun free zones, and many of the murderers admit that the sought out a gun free zone because they knew they wouldn't meet armed resistance. The fact is that there are bad people out there, but the fact is that most people are good. Gun free zones will stop law abiding people from being armed because they follow the law. Someone who intends to kill someone will not be stopped from carrying the means to do so merely be a sign.

Despite propaganda (that's what it is) claiming that concealed carry will increase crime, people who carry concealed weapons for self defense are among the most law abiding in the nation - more law abiding than police. Why not let them defend themselves?

Of course mass shootings will still happen. These things will only reduce the number of deaths, not eliminate them. And as I have pointed out, mass shootings are a drop in the bucket. What can we do about the larger problem? Regarding suicides, while gun suicides are a large number, there is no evidence that removing guns affects the suicide rate. Even in countries like Japan, which has a very low number of guns, the suicide rate is higher than in the US; the methods simply change. I am not an expert on the issue of suicide prevention so I will not speculate as to the best way to reduce the suicide rate, but I will note that among faithful practicing Catholics the suicide rate is negligible. Spread the Gospel, folks!

As for gang and drug related killings, again I am not an expert, but I think if we enforce the laws, and protect whistle blowers it would help. Legalizing drugs would not. As I understand it, the gang problem is related to the breakdown of families and the lack of fathers. This in turn is actual racism, in the form of social programs that target minorities and encourage this behavior. Again I'll note that among faithful practicing Catholic families the divorce rate is negligible. Spread the Gospel!

Lastly, for people who claim that we should endure anything, give up any right, to keep people safe and save lives note that the one federal law that has been proven to save lives, more than any of these other laws, was the national 55 MPH speed limit. In addition, a national 55 MPH speed limit would reduce carbon emissions. Why aren't the gun hating, climate loving people of America pushing for that law?

Sunday, April 14, 2019


I'm personally against global warming, but if someone else wants to make excessive amounts of CO2, that's their prerogative. I'm personally in favor of personal property, but if someone wants to embezzle millions, who am I to judge? I'm personally against slavery, but if someone wants to own another person it is their choice. I'm personally against rape, but if someone feels the need I can't impose my morality on them. I'm personally against murder, but if another person thinks it's ok, we need to realize we are not a nation of Christians only.

All of those statements are absurd, right? I hope you agree with that. The reason is that, regardless of our "personal" views, we see that there are victims. The victim may be future generations (in the case of global warming) or the poor, or lower castes, or women, or anybody, but there is a victim. The law isn't about imposing your opinion on someone but on protecting a vulnerable victim.

Yet too often we hear "I'm personally opposed to abortion, but..." with one of those excuses used above. Making abortion illegal isn't about imposing an opinion or a culture or even a Judaeo-Christian morality upon another person, it's about protecting a vulnerable person.

Many people will accept that it's not OK to have an abortion in the third trimester, because either they see the baby as "human" by that point or because the baby is "viable" at that point. Let's look at that more closely...


 Some people think that before the baby is "viable" it's OK to have an abortion because before that point it is the mother's responsibility to keep the baby alive, and a mother should not be required to do that. Reread that last part again. Would you accept the mother of a newborn, or a one year old letting her baby die because she didn't want to take care of it? The only way to justify a viability test for abortion is if we don't consider the unborn child a human being. For, as John Calvin wrote:
For the fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being, and it is a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man's house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.
 If the fetus is not a human being then of course the argument is null and void. And so we come to reason number two...


It is easy to look as a blastocyst and say "that's not a human being" because a blastocyst isn't shaped like a human being. Even the name doesn't sound like a human being.  However, we shouldn't judge by appearance. What do science and logic tell us?

Science tells us that the blastocyst is a separate independent organism, not part of the mother's body. It tells us it is alive. It tells us it is human, with its own unique human DNA. Sounds like a human being to me.

Logic tells us that humans beget humans, not non-humans. It tells us that, if a human being has rights, those right depend on it being a human being, not on it's abilities or dependencies. If it is OK to kill a human being because it is not currently conscious, it is also OK to kill a human being who is asleep. If it is OK to kill a healthy human being because it allegedly doesn't feel pain it is OK to kill a healthy human being to whom we administer anesthetic.

In short, although you may like to pretend that humanity depends on having such and such a level of development, there is no logical or scientific justification for it.


Jesus says "whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me... whatever you did not do for the least of these you did not do to me." (Matthew 25). He calls us to give food and drink to those in need, to clothe the naked, welcome the stranger and visit the sick and imprisoned.

Who is the least among us more than the unborn? Is not abortion the refusal to give food and drink? Isn't abortion a refusal to welcome the stranger, to clothe the naked, to visit the one "imprisoned" in the womb?

As Christians, our mission should be to make abortion illegal, not because we like to impose our point of view on others, but because it is our duty to protect the vulnerable among us.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Shame on you!

I love memes. Funny memes. So when the latest barrage of Joe Biden memes came out I was all in. But then came last Sunday. My wife and I both overslept, and so we missed the mass we like to go to. The alternatives were to wait and go in the evening, or go to a different parish. Although we like the masses as our usual parish, I hate going to mass at dinner time. It means that dinner will be late and rushed, and the whole day feels off because we haven't gone to mass yet. So we decided to go to mass at a different parish in the area where we had never gone to Sunday mass before, to the 12:30 mass.

The priest was one I really like, who usually gives good homilies that explain the readings. That Sunday was no exception. The Gospel reading was about the woman caught in adultery. He focused on the difference between shame and guilt. The Pharisees were not interested in the woman. To them she was someone to put to shame, in order to be used against Jesus. But Jesus wasn't interested in their political games, he was interested in the woman herself. He wanted to take away her guilt and bring her back into a right relationship with God.

It made me think about my memes, and specifically the ones about Joe Biden. What was my motivation? Did I want to shame him for touching women inappropriately, or was my object to effect change to bring him into a right relationship with God and with women? Would I rather see him damned or forgiven? And regardless of my motives, were my actions consistent with that, or was I a hypocrite?

I'm still processing this. On the one hand, I have no way to even contact Joe Biden, so nothing I do or say is going to affect him. On the other hand, I should at least pray for him, and I will. On the one hand, people should expose bad behavior, because there is no other way to address it. On the other hand, do we expose the bad behavior to bring the person and others into a realization that they should behave better, or do we do it to destroy them? On the one hand, he is a public figure and political speech has always used humor to bring across a point. On the other hand should things be that way?

What do you think?