Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hair today, gone tomorrow

Sixteen Amish in rural Ohio have been charged with federal hate crimes. That's unusual for Amish, who generally are under the radar because of their peaceful ways. Their crime? Cutting hair.
"In the Amish faith a man's beard and a women's hair are sacred religious symbols," Bridget M. Brennan, an assistant U.S. attorney, said in her opening statement. "The beard and the hair are symbols of Amish righteousness, religious symbols that God is present in their lives."
Dean Carro, attorney for defendant Lester Miller, told jurors that at one time his client cut off his own beard and voluntarily slept in a chicken coop in order to right himself with his Amish religion. Carro also said Miller believed his parents, two of the victims, had strayed from the Amish path.
"He thought his parents had forgotten the rules," Carro told jurors. "He was trying to bring them back to the fold."
According to the article, the issue at hand is that "Amish leader Samuel Mullet Sr., who is one of the defendants, was not present at any of the attacks but he preached to his followers that the victims deserved punishment for disagreeing with him in the past."

 So we have a religious leader who issues a religious "punishment" on members of his own congregation, and he is arrested for "hate crimes". Let's put this in perspective. Suppose he were a Catholic bishop refusing Holy Communion to a pro-abortion politician. Still a hate crime? Or does this fall under religious liberty?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Joke

Here's a joke to cool you off on these last few days of summer vacation.

A man gets up early in the morning to go ice fishing. He goes out onto the ice with his tent, his pick and his fishing rod, and starts to pick at the ice.

Then he hears a big booming voice: "THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE."

The guy looks around and then starts to pick at the ice again. Then he hears the voice again: "THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE."

Now the guy is getting a little edgy. He looks up toward the sky and thinks to himself, "God, is that you?"

There is no answer, so he starts picking again. The voice bellowed again: "THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE."

Then the guy yells aloud, "God, is that you?"

The voice answered, "NO. IT'S THE MANAGER OF THE ICE RINK."

Friday, August 24, 2012


The main stream media, having picked up on Todd Akin's idiotic comments on abortion in cases of rape, are publishing stories in order to justify its stance on abortion. However, note that the stance taken is not just to support abortion in the case of rape, but abortion on demand for any reason. For all the hoopla, this has actually opened a useful debate. The thing is to not fall into the trap of making the issue about the plight of raped women but to look at the larger picture.

I read a story a couple of years ago about the clinic where I pray, and a worker was quoted as saying that all the women they "help" in their clinic are rape cases. Now from seeing the number of women who go in and out, I can tell you that they see about 100+ women a week. Are they seriously claiming that there are 100 cases of rape a week in that town?

But it's even worse! Using the highest estimates I could find, only 6.4% of women raped get pregnant. Using that estimate, there must be 1563 cases of rape every week in that town alone. If we multiply by the number of clinics (doing a quick search for places that perform abortions) I estimate over 84,000 cases of rape per week, or almost 4.5 million rapes per year. That means the entire state of NJ is raped every year.

Of course, that's not true, just as the number of deaths claimed form "back alley" abortions were not true. In fact most women who have abortions are there because they simply don't want to be pregnant.

This whole public debate on abortion is one facet of a larger issue, and I think one that exposes a difference in world view between the two sides of the debate. There are certainly those who are uninformed about what abortion is. With all the misinformation out there it's no wonder. And the women who talk to us at the clinic have no idea going in what's actually going on. But there are those who do know what abortion is. And I find it troubling that those people would use rape as a justification of abortion.

The whole issue is when someone breaks a law, should they be punished or should someone else (e.g. "society") be punished? Should we try to prevent the criminal from breaking the law, or should we try to prevent non-criminals from breaking the law? I think this is a world view issue, because it seems that people who hold this position on abortion and rape, who are not just parroting the media but who legitimately and honestly have come to that intellectual conclusion, have positions on other issues that derive from the same principle.

For instance, I see many of the same people who would support abortion for rape (e.g. take a child's right to life because of a criminal act) would support gun bans to stop murders (e.g. take a citizen's right to bear arms because of a criminal act). They support unconstitutional, unreasonable searches to stop terrorist acts. They support taking away property rights to stop poverty. Of course, not everybody who supports one of these supports them all, but there is a surprising tendency to see things through the same lens, enough to have earned labels like "left' and "right".

I think we should take this debate to its base level, and the issue is fundamentally one of culpability. Are people responsible for their own actions, or are they merely shaped by the forces of society? Do we uphold the law and punish criminals, or do we alter the law to treat everyone as criminals, hoping to punish the criminals along with everybody else?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Results, not reason

The Canadian news outlet Globe and Mail has an article Doctors call on Ottawa to reject ‘backdoor’ attempt to recriminalize abortion. The article states:
At the general council meeting of the Canadian Medical Association on Wednesday, delegates called on the federal government to reject attempts by a Conservative backbench MP to amend the Criminal Code so that a fetus is defined as a human being.
“This constitutes the criminalization of abortion or any form of contraception,” said Dr. Geneviève Desbiens, a urologist from Valleyfield, Que.
“This change could even prevent a pregnant woman from travelling or taking certain drug treatments,” she said.
Dr. Desbiens also warned that doctors who counsel or provide abortion services could become criminals.
Currently, subsection 223(1) of the Criminal Code states that a fetus “becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother…”
Now first off, the claims of Dr. Desbiens are ridiculous. Does she really think pregnant women should not be allowed to travel? And yet that's what she says. It's at least as stupid as what Todd Akin said, and yet I'll bet she's not being threatened with violence.

But what's even stupider is a doctor saying that a human fetus is not human. Even a first year biology student knows that organisms do not change species as they grow. But perhaps she's speaking in a legal sense, not a biological sense? If so, then she has no authority to declare anything about the issue, since she is a doctor, not a lawyer.

So why defend as a doctor, a statement that is not true medically? Because what's important to Dr. Desbiens is not that a law reflect reality, but that it leads to the conclusions she wants. If a fetus is human then we need to think about whether that human deserves the same protection under the law as you and I enjoy. If we say the fetus is not human we can do whatever we want to him or her.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Singer and the reign

LifeSiteNews had a recent article about Peter Singer's claims that being a member of the human species isn't sufficient for deserving human rights - specifically the right to life. OK, but what is the basis for making that claim?

To be honest I haven't read much of what Singer has written, mostly because I find it to be so much adolescent trash. Utilitarianism just isn't very useful, ironically, for making any sense of the world. In high school a buddy and I made up an ethical framework in an afternoon. We called it "entropism". Just as utilitarianism aims to reduce "suffering", entropism aims to limit entropy.

For the non-physic geek reader, entropy is a concept in thermodynamics that refers to the amount of disorder in a system.  In the universe entropy can only increase, never decrease, and so the universe will eventually reach a state where entropy is high enough that life cannot exists, The goal of entropism was to prolong the useful life of the universe by keeping entropy as low as possible.

A window has less entropy than smashed bits of glass, therefore destruction of property is "wrong" (according to entropism). Higher forms of life are more organized and therefore should be protected. When you think about is, entropism makes every bit as much sense as utilitarianism, and suffers from many of the same problems. In fact, entropism is superior to utilitarianism in that the entropy of a system can be calculated and quantified,while "suffering" is a rather fuzzy subjective concept.

Now if two high school kids were able to come up with entropism, explore its implications, and reject it as stupid in the same afternoon, it boggles my mind to imagine that utilitarianism could exist in the minds of any intelligent person for more than a day or so, let alone be a force that drives large portions of societies or governments (such as Nazi Germany).

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Joke

A husband and wife are killed in an accident and find themselves in heaven. It’s an immaculate golf course with a beautiful clubhouse and handsomely landscaped greens, and they have it to themselves. They gape at it for a while, and then he asks her if she’d like to play a round.

As they’re teeing up for the first hole, she says, “What’s wrong?”

He says, “We could have been here years ago if it weren’t for your stupid oat bran.”

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bad News

It's been a bad news week.

Life Site News reports the Canadian Medical Association says babies are not human until after birth:
Delegates to the Canadian Medical Association’s annual general council voted on the motion so as to prevent what they called a “backdoor” attempt to reopen the abortion debate. They voted to pass, says a CMA report on the meeting, “a resolution supporting the current wording of the Criminal Code which states that a child ‘becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother…’”
I am not  a doctor, but having taken a full year of biology I can tell you that babies are human. I wonder what species these doctors think the babies belong to?

And now that we passed it to find out what was in it we find that Obamacare further erodes parental rights by permitting 15 year olds to be permanently sterilized without their parent's permission.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Forget the milestones of obtaining a driver's license at 16 and being able to legally drink at 21 - getting sterilized at 15 is now the first step in the social maturity process of an American youth.

The "Required Health Plan Coverage Guidelines" set forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states: "Non-grandfathered plans and issuers are required to provide coverage without cost-sharing consistent with these guidelines in the first plan year.that begins on or after August 1, 2012.All [FDA] approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity."
OK, that's not hard to believe. In fact, I'd be surprised to find it didn't undermine right of parents, and just about everybody else.

One of my favored charities, Catholic Relief Services has now been found supporting pro-abortion and pro-contraception groups:
August 16, 2012 ( – In July, LifeSiteNews broke the story of Catholic Relief Services, “the official overseas relief and development agency of the USCCB,” granting $5.3 million to CARE, a pro-contraception and pro-abortion organization.

Since then, numerous blogs have picked up the story—and investigated further. “Red State” has reported on CRS as a dues-paying member of both the pro-conraception CORE Group and the pro-abortion group MEDiCAM.
It's getting hard to know who to trust when donating.

Lastly, a Mennonite pastor has been convicted for his role in helping a child flee a court imposed lesbian relationship.
Kenneth L. Miller, a Mennonite pastor who helped a little girl and her mother to flee the United States to escape the girl’s court-imposed lesbian “mother,” has been convicted on the charge of “aiding and abetting a parental kidnapping.”
A Vermont jury returned the verdict yesterday after only four hours of deliberation. He is free while awaiting sentencing, which could bring a punishment of up to three years in prison.
Is protecting a child from harm now a crime? In the UK sharing a true story apparently is if it contradicts what the government wants you to believe.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wednesday Joke

This should have been Monday's joke, but I didn't remember it until Tuesday night, so here it is a few days late, but still in time for today's feast.

Mary says to Joseph "When I go to heaven I'm going to have my body there."

Joseph, smiling, tells her "Mary, you know only your soul goes to heaven. You can't have your body with you."

Mary replies "No, I think I'm special, and I will have my body in heaven."

...and Joseph tells her "Oh Mary, that's just your assumption."

and here is a bonus video

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Joke

[shamelessly borrowed from a recent episode of "Catholic answers Live"]

A man goes to the psychiatrist and says "Doctor, you've got to help me! All day and all night I hear Tom Jones songs in my head. It's driving me crazy. I can't eat, I can't sleep, because the songs won't stop. First it was 'Delilah', then 'What's New Pussycat', then 'She's a Lady'. Have you ever heard of this before?"

The doctor replies "It's not unusual."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Joke

An elderly couple was sitting watching TV. The woman got up and said to her husband "I'm getting some ice cream, do you want some?"

"No!" came the reply. "You always get mixed up and bring me the wrong thing."

"That's not true. Why don't you let me try?"

"No, it's no use. You never bring the right thing. Last week I asked for chocolate and you brought me vanilla."

"Well I won't make that mistake again."

"Well, OK, then bring me chocolate. Remember, chocolate not vanilla. Chocolate. Two scoops."

"Got it. Chocolate, two scoops!" she said and disappeared into the kitchen.

Five minutes later she comes back and hands him a plate of scrambled eggs. "You see? You got it wrong again. You always get me the wrong thing. Where's my toast?"

Saturday, August 4, 2012


I responded to a post on Google+ today about the article 5 Reasons why the Church failed yesterday. I decided to turn it into a blog post. Enjoy.

I think the whole thing is a misunderstanding. Chick-fil-A appreciation day was not a “Church” event, it was a “State” event, protesting the government stepping on the Constitutional rights of American citizens.

Of the 3 people in line I spoke to enough to know their positions, one was an atheist, one a “nothing” and one a Christian. In fact, two of the three were pro gay marriage - they were there to defend the rights of someone to hold an opinion different from their own. Of course, that's anecdotal evidence, but I believe the makeup of the crowd probably mirrored the makeup of the community in which it formed. Certainly in some communities that would be mostly Christian, but this was not organized or promoted by any church I know of.

So it's hard to respond to an article when the basic premise it argues form is flawed, but I'll try to address the points.

1) “This is not love.” It certainly was a bunch of people who love freedom and America. The crowd I was in was hugging, singing, and chatting. People were making new friends. Everyone was polite, upbeat, and respectful. If this isn't love I don't know what is.

2) “People felt hate and we ignored it.” Not at all. In fact it was responding to the hatred poured out upon Mr. Cathy. The whole thing was about opposing hate, and no hate was offered. I'd wager the people who "felt hate" are the ones who "felt hate" at hearing about Mr. Cathy's views. Should he and others who think like him be silenced because someone "feels hate".

3) “Christians put issues above people.” Again, aside from the fact that it was not “Christians”, this is also backward. It is the government that put the issue of gay marriage above the person of Mr. Cathy. This was supporting a person over an issue. And even if the protest had been against gay marriage, I don't see how that is against what Jesus taught. In fact Jesus states in Matthew 19 that God cerated them male and female for marriage. We can’t embrace love, mercy, hope, and peace when we ignore our brother who is oppressed.

4) “The mass actions of Christians built a wall of mistrust.” Again, ignoring the fact that this was not a Christian thing, what wall was built that was not there? It was the government and the LGBTQ community that started the conflict. This was as respectful and peaceful a response as I could imagine. Nobody was put down, nobody was attacked. Is merely holding an opinion now so offensive that it “builds a wall”? If so, that wall already exists.

5) “It did nothing to prove that Christians don't hate gay people.” It wasn't trying to. It was trying to tell the government to leave citizens alone. But again, even if it were a Christian thing, there is no way to “prove” that Christians don't hate gay people. I think Christians' actions, on the whole, show that they love gay people as much as they do anyone else. But to those who hate Christians, that doesn't matter. What matters is that some people who call themselves Christians do hate gay people. And that is the bat that is used to bash Christians as a whole.

So what does the author suggest would be a way for Christians to “prove” they don't hate gay people? It seems the only way to do that would be to stop being Christians, which is, of course, what is being demanded.

Now, what about the people who called for others to disrupt business on Friday? What religion is that? What kind of love is that? What walls of mistrust are they breaking down?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What I ate for lunch

and this was the line I had to wait 45 minutes on to get it

Kinda give me hope for this country.