Saturday, October 29, 2011

To Russia, with Love

In the spirit of welcoming the 7 billionth human being to our planet, here's an article about Russia: Vladimir Putin Receives Virgin Mary 'Fertility' Relic. It seems that under the Soviet Union's draconian abortion policies, the Russian people have achieved a fertility rate of 1.4. That means each generation is producing only 1.4 people to replace each couple, which is a loss of 1/3 of the population per generation. Russia is trying to counter the trend by making abortions past 12 weeks' gestation illegal, but it may be a case of too little too late.

Japan has an even bigger problem, with a fertility rate of 1.37, and a smaller population to begin with. The Japanese government has offered a bonus of 350,000 Yen (about $4600) for each baby born, offers paid "conjugal leave," and has invented, with typical Japanese ingenuity, a robot designed to encourage couples to have children.

The United States is also experiencing population loss, although immigration is making up the difference for now. Let's learn a lesson from Russia and love our kids.

Friday, October 28, 2011

7 Billion Served

This Halloween the world's population will reach 7 Billion, according to the UN FPA. Oh, and if the news sends you into a panic, calm down and watch the video below. As I calculated in my post CEASE Procreating there is plenty of room. With 7 billion people the calculation still holds, but the size of the backyard each family of 4 would get is 15" smaller.

According to projections, we only have 2 billion to go before the population decreases and the human race begins to die out, so let's roll out the welcome mat for precious gift from God, baby # 7,000,000,000!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sick of Neighbors

Sorry I haven't blogged in so long - life keeps getting in the way. Today I just got back form a scout camp out, and collapsed. So no time to write part 3 of the Bigot series. However, I wanted to write something and mass today provided it.

Today's homily was all about how Jesus said "Love thy neighbor" and how you can see God in your neighbor. We get this pretty much every week, but this week it rankled me a bit because that is not what the Gospel reading said. From Mt 22:34-40
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested him by asking,
"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
He said to him,
"You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
How many times have you heard this to support "Love thy neighbor as thyself". Now go back and read it again, and answer me this question; "which commandment in the law is greatest?"

So how come no homilist ever talks about that? Jesus Himself said it was the most important law, more important than the second one. Why do we hold up the second law as if it were the first? Maybe I'm just getting too old and crotchety.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bigot (part 2)

In my previous post, Bigot, I spoke about the lack of evidence of any "rights" that are denied homosexual couples under current law, and therefore the lack of a reason to change the definition of marriage. In this post I intended to talk about reasons not to change the definition of marriage, but it occurs to me that I should first ask the question "why marriage?".

I was going to start with Merriam-Webster again, then discovered that they recently changed their definition from
mar·riage noun \ˈmer-ij, ˈma-rij\
1 : the institution under which a man and a woman become legally united on a permanent basis
mar·riage noun \ˈmer-ij, ˈma-rij\
1a (1) : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage
which is a poor definition for reasons that will become clear later in this post (not the least of which is that a dictionary is supposed to record the definition of a word as commonly used, not attempt to introduce new usage). So for now let's start with the Oxford dictionary, which has not changed its definition.
marriage :/ˈmarɪdʒ/ noun
1 the formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife:
So, my question about this definition is "why?". Why does the law recognize this union? What interest does the state have in who I hang out with, or live with, or sleep with?

My pro-SSM friends will argue that it has to recognize this union for the purpose of property rights. However, I find this unconvincing. First off, the state recognizes shared property rights without a marriage. Secondly the state doesn't intrude in property rights for partnerships other than marriages. It is pretty clear from looking at the structure of family court that the state's interest in marriage is ensuring that children are cared for. And that's a noble goal. After all, children are human beings.

Children have rights, and one of those rights is the right to their father and mother. The father and mother, in turn, have the responsibility to care for and educate their child to produce a citizen. In recognizing marriage, the state recognizes an institution that is far older than itself, and in fact is the basis of society and government; the family.

In other words, marriage is an institution not for the "rights" of parents to have children if they want, but for the rights of children to have their own parents care for them. This is common sense. Clearly marriage is not necessary to get together and have children. But it is a commitment to stay together to raise those children.

The Catholic Church has always recognized this, and indeed every religion and government recognized this throughout all of history until the last century. I won't get into how and why this changed for some organizations because that would be another entire series of posts. But let's look at the Catholic perspective on marriage.

If you wish to be married in the Catholic Church you are required to post banns of marriage - that is, state your intent to marry publicly for a period of time. You must receive instructions on what marriage is. You must promise that you will have whatever children God gives you. You must promise to raise those children and educate them in the Catholic faith. These are requirements for marriage.

What about people who don't want to have children? They should not be married, and in fact cannot be married as Catholics. What about people who can't have children? They can be married. Isn't that a contradiction? No. Nobody can predict what will happen, we can only say what we want to happen and what we promise to do in that situation.

Why is the Catholic Church so hung up on sex? We're not. We're hung up on life. Marriage is about bringing life into the world, and the Catholic Church is one of the few organizations that not only talks the talk but walks the walk.

But what about same sex couples? Can't they have children and raise them and educate them? No, they can't. If you have read a biology book (or even if you haven't) you should realize it takes both sexes to produce a child. Hence no need for marriage, because they are not going to produce children with each other.

What about adoption? Adoption exists again not for the "rights" of adults to get children they want, but for the rights of children to get the parents they need. It is not a matter of "ownership" of a child, but of meeting the needs of children. If a child loses one or both parents for some reason (including abandonment), adoption gives that child the benefit of a mother and father (and usually brothers and sisters as well). Adoption by two people of the same sex does not give that child any benefit. Two "mommies" (or two "daddies") does not make a mother and father, regardless of what role playing goes on.

Of course, many pro-SSM people will disagree with this definition of marriage. To them I offer the following observation and question. First off, whether they like it or not, this is the definition of marriage by the Church today and by everyone since before recorded history. I did not invent this, and neither did the Church. Secondly, if marriage is something else, what is it that makes it distinct from any other thing (such as a contract, for instance)?

Next, see Bigot Part 3.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Race for the Kill

Yesterday my entire newspaper was pink. No, it wasn't licked by a yink. It was to notify people about breast cancer awareness month. Eliminating breast cancer is a noble goal, and one which I support. But it was also to encourage people to donate to one organization, which was mentioned over and over; the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer.

Sadly, Susan G. Komen donates between $600K to $1M each year to Planned Parenthood. According to their web site the money is only used for breast cancer screening and mammograms, and no money funds abortions. However, there are two thing wrong with that.

First off, money is fungible, meaning if I give PP money to fund breast cancer screening, I am freeing up the money PP would have spent on that to subsidize abortion. Please follow the link above to my earlier post to read my thoughts on fungibility.

Secondly, Komen claims that PP is the only recourse women in certain areas have for getting mammograms, etc. The problem is PP doesn't offer mammograms, and refers women to their primary care physicians for those services. Live Action called every PP clinic in the country and asked to schedule a breast exam and mammogram, and in every case was told they don't do that and referred elsewhere.

So, where is this money really going? Why do we have "meta" fundraising organizations at all? Why can't cancer organizations keep themselves clean from controversy and just address cancer directly through their own programs instead of getting involved in organizations that are not primarily involved in cancer work?