Thursday, May 30, 2013

Real Men...

...aren't afraid of a little water...

[Update: A friend notes that Catholic Memes has something similar. I kind of like theirs better, because they show that not only does the president have an umbrella, but everyone else is sitting without one. Also, the president is alone pontificating (pun intended), while the Pope is surrounded by the faithful. Makes the contrast that much more evident.]

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Memorial

No jokes today. Instead, come on out and watch a parade! Below is a touching video of one soldier's homecoming. Let's remember those who have sacrificed to ensure our freedom, who didn't get to have a homecoming.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Wither now?

In the wake of the decision by the Boy Scouts of America to allow openly homosexual boys but not adults, I'm bracing myself for the inevitable questions I will face over the next days and weeks. "What does this mean?"

For those who want to present this as the scouts "ending discrimination", the previous policy was not discriminatory. It does not exclude people on any other basis than behavior. The scouts' membership policy has been challenged time and again. In 1995 Yeaw v. Boy Scouts of America challenged whether it was discriminatory for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts to refuse to admit girls. The scouts won. In 1998 Curran v. Mount Diablo Council of the Boy Scouts of America challenged the policy on refusing homosexual leaders. Welsh v. Boy Scouts of AmericaI (1993) and Randall v. Orange County Council (1998)  challenged the policy on atheists. Finally in 2000, Boy Scouts of America v. Dale went all the way to the Supreme Court and settled once and for all that the Boy Scouts of America's policies are not discriminatory and are perfectly legal.

The reason is that scouting is an organization based on a common set of values. It doesn't matter who you are, if you espouse that set of values, you are welcome. If you do not, you are not. The same can be said for basically any organization. A model airplane club is for people who enjoy model airplanes. They are welcome to refuse members who wish to ban model airplanes. You get the idea.

However, the homosexual community wants to present itself not as behavior or beliefs, but of biology. The contention is that being "gay" is like being black, and therefore they cannot be "discriminated against." The lack of any evidence that you are "born gay" and the weight of evidence that you are not are ignored by pretty much both sides in the argument. The group has successfully lobbied from the top down, and controls a disproportionately large amount of money.

Which is where the scouts come in. While an individual scout may be concerned with the values of scouting, at the national level the concern is "how do we pa for that?" It takes a lot of money to be able to run a program that gives millions of boys so many opportunities, and since a large part of funding is controlled by a relatively small number of donors, manipulating donor money becomes a more effective tool than lawsuits to effect policy change.

And so the national BSA committee decided to change the membership policy. Earlier this year, they sent up a "trial balloon" with an announcement that they were "considering" a change to lift the ban on openly homosexual adults but not scouts. The change included a "conscience clause" which allowed individual units (troops) to make a decision to allow or not allow openly homosexual adults in their unit. This was to avoid losing religiously sponsored troops.

There was a large backlash from individual units. The reason is that the scenario presented was the "worst case" in a lot of ways. It would expose each individual unit to the kind of harassment and lawsuits that had plagued the national organization for decades. It raised questions about youth protection. And of course, it violated the moral principles of scouting.

So, over the past months the BSA has lobbied its members heavily on the subject. There were polls which were incredibly one sided scenarios to provide statistics that would favor a change to allow openly homosexual youths. I believe this was the plan all along. It is way easier to get parents who worry that their own son may "come out" to support allowing "gay" youths than is it to get them to approve of having a drag queen for a scout master. And once the ban is lifted for one group, the other will surely be allowed. After all, you can't tell little Johnny it's OK to sleep with boys, but his dad can't be involved in scouting because...well, why exactly?

And so we get to where we are now. The numbers looked like there was grass roots support, the media was beating on the issue regularly, and frankly a lot of people who objected the first go round were ignored on the revised policy change proposal. No, I am not surprised that the BSA lifted the ban on "gay" scouts - anybody who is surprised is naive. When the first "proposal" was announced it was inevitable.

So what does this mean to me? In answering that I'd like to point out the statement made by the BSA [emphasis mine]:
Today, following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote.
What does he think "openly gay" means, if it does not include sexual conduct? Does he mean "same sex attracted?" But that's different from being "openly gay." Is it OK for a boy to be "dating" other boys, as long as he doesn't go past first base? Third base? Are scout leaders then supposed to inquire about the scout's sexual lives? "Johnny, did you ever touch a girl's breasts?" The whole notion of allowing boys who espouse a certain sexual conduct but saying sexual conduct is not allowed is absurd.

This may seem like I'm diving into minutia, but it can and will be important when considering eagle scouts. The rank of eagle scout is the highest rank in the BSA, and to earn it a boy has to meet certain criteria, which involve living up to the scout oath and law. First off, the current scout oath involves promising to remain "morally straight," which is problematic given the change. I expect the oath to be amended. But even without that, the scout must adhere to moral principles. I am aware of cases where a boy has completed all the requirements for eagle scout but was denied the rank because he was discourteous to someone.

That's a pretty high bar to clear. And the next time a boy is denied eagle because of sexual conduct, and that sexual conduct is homosexual conduct, you can bet the policy will be revised again. And again, and again. There's a story attributed to either George Bernard Shaw or more popularly WInston Churchill that goes something like this:
Churchill: "Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?"
Socialite: "My goodness, Mr. Churchill... Well, I suppose... we would have to discuss terms, of course... "
Churchill: "Would you sleep with me for five pounds?"
Socialite: "Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!"
Churchill: "Madam, we've already established that. Now we are haggling about the price”
Now that we've established that the BSA's principles are for sale, it's just a matter of price. And homosexuals aren't the only group looking to change BSA principles to match theirs. I predict turmoil and strife, and an ultimate watering down of the twelve points of scouting.

So, what to do? I could resign my position, and pull my sons out of scouting. I'm sure a lot of people will be doing that. But what would tat accomplish? There are still many good things about scouting that we can't get from another organization. leaving would be "giving up" all that we've done - running away from the bullies. On the other hand, is staying being hypocritical? In spite of knowing this was coming I haven't reached a decision, mostly because it was unclear exactly what changes would be made. For instance, would there be a "conscience clause" similar to what was in the original policy proposal.

The change doesn't go into effect until January 1, 2014, so there is time to think and pray about this, and come to a conclusion. Perhaps the organization will split over the issue, like the Anglican Church. Or perhaps a splinter organization will form, like the American Heritage Girls did in the case of the Girls Scouts abandoning their values. One thing that is especially troubling to me is that I would like to remain a leader, since I would like to help the boys in our troop regardless of what the policy is, yet if I were personally faced with an "openly gay" scout I could not in good conscience be involved in award that would affirm his moral behavior, and so I could not remain a leader.

So what does this mean? I don't know yet, but I could use your prayers, as can the entire BSA.

UPDATE: The NCCS (National Committee on Catholic Scouting) seems to have a stance similar to mine (they must be pretty smart ;-) ):
Today, the voting members of the BSA voted to change the membership standards for its youth members. The BSA proposed in its resolution that "no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone." Its membership standards for adult leaders remain unchanged.
The Catholic Church teaches that people who experience a homosexual inclination or a same sex attraction are to be treated with respect recognizing the dignity of all persons. The Church's teaching is clear that engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage is immoral. Individuals who are open and avowed homosexuals promoting and engaging in homosexual conduct are not living lives consistent with Catholic teaching.
Since the change in policy will not take effect until January 1, 2014, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting has adequate time to study its effects. The NCCS will determine how it may impact Catholic chartered Scout units and activities. In doing so, we will work within the teachings of our Catholic Faith and with the various local bishops and their diocesan scouting committees.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Say your prayers! the words of the beloved Yosemite Sam. Today...
  • Thousands of our brothers and sisters in Oklahoma are still in great need due to the tornado which caused so much damage there.

Please join me today in prayer and fasting this day.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Statement of dis-belief

It's opposite day once again!

Not OK to require employees to believe what they are hired to do.

OK to require employees to believe what you want them to.

Monday Joke

This one comes to me courtesy of Mother Angelica. I've recently been listening to her on EWTN, and she is a hoot!

A man passed away and at his funeral, friend after friend gave heartfelt glowing eulogies. After one particularly effusive one, his widow turned to her son and said "run up there and check if it's your father."

Friday, May 17, 2013

Dam eagles

Fined $10,500,000 for killing golden eagles.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Freedom of worship

Some people have been upset by our president's redefinition of the First Amendment as meaning "freedom of worship." Why does it matter? Because "freedom of worship" means as long as I let you pray in your own home or church, or temple or synagogue, I can do anything to you. Freedom of worship means I can trample over your beliefs in the public square, and even in your private life, as long as I let you go to church.

An example of where this takes us is seen in this story about German home schoolers. Most people are painting this story as the US government saying parents don't have a right to educate their children as they see fit. But that's not the real story.
"The question is not whether Germany's policy violates the American Constitution, whether it violates the parameters of an international treaty or whether Germany's law is a good idea. It is whether the Romeikes have established the prerequisites of an asylum claim — a well-founded fear of persecution on account of a protected ground," the court wrote. In this case, that protected ground is religious freedom.

But the court found that the German government treats all truants the same, regardless of their reasons for not attending school.
This decision shows either a lack of understanding of the first amendment, or a redefinition of it as "freedom of worship." You see, the case is being decided on whether or not they were being punished differently from others who don't want their kids in school for other reasons. But it doesn't matter that they are not being treated differently from others, because the way they are being treated violates their religion.

As Christians we are obliged to pass the faith on to our children. These people's children are being forcibly indoctrinated with anti-Christian teaching. That's the reason they don't want them in school, not because of some personal preference. The German school system is violating their religious freedom by what it is teaching. It doesn't matter that they get the same punishment as someone who keeps their kids out of school for a different reason. Let them opt out of anti-Christian teachings, and then force them to go send their kids to school, then we can talk about parental rights in education. but we're not even at that point yet.

The US government says that as long as they are treated "equally", anything goes. Think about that. Suppose we outlaw circumcision. You could say that doesn't violate the rights of Jews because we are outlawing it for everyone - they are not being treated specially. Or suppose we legislate that everyone has to eat pork. No, those Muslims are not being treated special, and heck, they can still go to Mosque so no harm no foul. Or suppose we legislate that Christians have to buy contraceptives and abortifacients. I'm just waiting for that decision to happen.


It's a good (or bad, if you think about it) week for opposites:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Suicide is not painless

Now it's over

.- Following his conviction for the murder of three babies born alive, abortionist Kermit Gosnell was sentenced Tuesday to two life sentences without parole for two of those murder charges.

By agreeing not to appeal his conviction, Gosnell was able to avoid the death penalty for two of the convictions of first-degree murder.
 Thank God. From ABC News:
the grand jury report in the case said there had been hundreds of "snippings," in which live babies were born and then killed.

"Gosnell had a simple solution for the unwanted babies he delivered. ... The way he ensured fetal demise was by sticking scissors into the back of the baby's neck and cutting the spinal cord. He called that 'snipping,'" the report alleged.

The report also said that many of the women patients were infected with sexually transmitted diseases from contaminated instruments, had suffered from botched procedures or had been given overdoses of dangerous drugs.
Already pro-aborts are spinning this, saying that this shows what will happen if we put legal restrictions on abortions. But of course, that's nonsense. The existing situation is a result of the lack of restrictions or oversight on abortuaries, because any restrictions on abortion are seen as "harmful to women". President Obama has stated that he would not endorse any restrictions on abortion. And because of positions like this, Gosnell is not alone, or even rare.

The other thing that remains ignored by pro-aborts is that this kind of thing was not the "norm" even when abortion was illegal. They still quote numbers by Bernard Nathanson [emphasis mine].
We persuaded the media that the cause of permissive abortion was a  liberal  enlightened, sophisticated one.  Knowing that if a true poll were taken, we would be soundly defeated, we simply fabricated the results of fictional polls.  We announced  to the media  that we had taken polls and that 60% of Americans were in favour of permissive abortion.  This is the tactic of the self-fulfilling lie.  Few people care to be in the minority. We aroused enough sympathy  to sell our program  of permissive abortion by fabricating the number of illegal abortions done annually in the U.S. The actual figure was approaching 100,000 but the figure  we gave  to the media  repeatedly was 1,000,000.  Repeating the big lie often enough convinces the public.  The number of women dying from illegal abortions was around 200-250  annually.  The figure  we constantly fed  to the media  was 10,000.  These false figures  took root  in the consciousness  of Americans  convincing many that we needed to crack  the  abortion law.  Another myth  we fed  to the public through the media was that legalising abortion  would only mean that the abortions taking place illegally would then be done legally.  In fact,  of course,  abortion is now being used as a primary method of birth control in the U.S. and the annual number of abortions has increased by 1500% since legalisation.

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's not over yet

Hopefully by now you have heard the news about Kermit Gosnell. He has been found guilty of first degree murder of three newborn infants, and third degree manslaughter in the death of a mother, and guilty on racketeering charges and over 200 counts of violating Pennsylvania abortion laws.

I know many of you have, like me, been hoping that Gosnell would not be acquitted, so that there would be some justice for the murders of those babies. Allegedly there are over 100 more babies who got the same treatment, but he hasn't been charged in those deaths.

So we can all relax now, right? Not quite. The three first degree murders could get him the death penalty. As the trial enters the sentencing phase, I'm praying, and ask you to pray too, that Gosnell's life is spared. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."
In other words, the death penalty isn't supposed to be a "revenge" of society for crimes, but a means to protect society when a criminal could be a danger. I don't think there's any danger of Gosnell practicing "medicine" (abortion is not medicine, but that's what it's called) ever again, and a life sentence (or three consecutive ones) would be a clear deterrent to others. Furthermore, a long prison sentence is conducive to repentance.

And so if I may paraphrase two common prayers:

Jesus, I beg you to spare the life of Kermit Gosnell, who is in danger of execution. Lead him to heaven, who is in need of your mercy. Amen.

Monday Joke

In honor of Mother's Day yesterday I offer this joke.

A painter was working on the ceiling of a church when he noticed an elderly woman come in, sit down nearby, and begin to pray. Seeing that the woman didn't notice him up on the scaffolding, the painter decided to have a little fun.

"This is Jesus," he called down to her. There was no response. After a minute he tried again. "Woman, this is Jesus." Still no response. Thinking she might be hard of hearing he called in a loud voice "Woman, this is Jesus!"

Without looking up the woman replied "Be quiet. I'm talking to your mother!"

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The victims

After the 9-11 attacks we heard at memorial ceremonies, the names of the victims read aloud. Likewise after the Newtown shootings. So please take a minute, one short minute, as we await the jury's verdict, and read aloud with me these names of the 45 children murdered at the "house of horrors" abortuary of Kermit Gosnell. At right is a picture of some of them. Their last names will likely never be known, but I hope their parents remember them and love them.
  • Adam 
  • Michael 
  • Alex 
  • Chris 
  • Andy 
  • Lou 
  • Pat 
  • Joshua 
  • David 
  • Ashley 
  • Sal 
  • Terry 
  • Sam 
  • Val 
  • Tony 
  • Ronnie 
  • Sarah 
  • Melanie 
  • Sandy 
  • Corey 
  • Drew 
  • Ryan 
  • Toby 
  • Sean 
  • Kelly 
  • Carroll 
  • Joseph 
  • Benjamin 
  • Stacey 
  • Gabriel 
  • Brett 
  • Julian 
  • Taylor 
  • Courtney 
  • Danny 
  • Kim 
  • Mandy 
  • Robin 
  • Austin 
  • Abel 
  • Michelle 
  • Lisa 
  • Shannon 
  • Nevin 
  • Connor
and when you are done, please read this story and pray for those involved.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

12 angry men?

A while ago I watched the movie 12 Angry Men, which I hadn't seen since high school (when we had to watch it). It got better with age (either that or I matured, and we know that couldn't happen). If you haven't seen it, give it a try. Henry Fonda was wonderful in it. Without spoilers, the movie covers the jury deliberation in a murder trial. We don't get to see the trial, just the deliberation, and facts emerge as the jury discusses them. The case seems like a slam dunk guilty verdict until Henry Fonda's character starts calling things into doubt.

There are two jury deliberations that have been in the news day after day, the Jodie Arias trial and the Kermit Gosnell tria. The Jodie Arias trial has been the topic of water cooler discussions, while I have followed the Gosnell trial with interest, as it exposes truths to the public about the abortion industry that they'd rather think about.

From the evidence I've read about and heard about it seemed to me like a guilty verdict for Gosnell would be a slam dunk. Eight of his assistants have already plead guilty to related charges, and there is forensic evidence galore. In fact, it came a surprise when the judge dismissed four of the charges against him. The reasoning was that the bodies of the babies had been frozen for so long that the coroner could not determine if they had breathed on their own before being killed.

Think about that a minute. We have babies who were delivered and then had their necks cut with scissors. The staff who were present testified that the babies were moving, breathing, alive. But because the coroner can't confirm definitively the testimony is disregarded. Because it's OK to kill those same, viable babies, as long as they are a few inches away, in the womb. The baby herself has no protection from being dismembered, mutilated, poisoned, starved or burned (to list a few of the ways abortions commonly kill children). Her only hope it to make it those last few inches to freedom (kind of like a bizarre version of Hunger Games).

So what's going on in that jury room? I think of 12 Angry Men and I wonder if the deliberations will end in conviction, acquittal or mistrial. And if convicted will the death penalty be applied? While I think a verdict of guilty if just, I do not think the death penalty is just in this case. While Gosnell is a menace to society, he is not likely to be so once he is behind bars. So, I think however it goes, it is unlikely that justice will be done.

Monday, May 6, 2013

It's not anti-religious, it's just stupid

There are a few things that irk me. One is triumphalism. Stories about how the Catholic Church is dead, or about how Planned Parenthood is dead strike me as prideful. Then there are the excessively pious posts (like the prayer of the Pharisee in Luke 18 "O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity"). Then there are the stories that are uncharitable in that they attribute motives that are not evident by the facts.

I've been reading stories about the track team disqualified because a runner pointed to God after a victory. A lot of people are crying "religious liberty" and they're right to worry about how this infringes on religious liberty. But like the author of the story I linked to, I don't think this is a case where religion is treated any differently from any other reason the young man might have had to raise his finger.

As I pointed out in my post Pretend Safety, the issue is the reliance on legalism in deference to common sense. Let's look at some Olympic athletes' victories:

and yet we tell high school students that they can't raise their arms because that would be "excessive celebration"? These are kids. Let them be happy with their accomplishments when they win. Let them praise God, or do a snoopy dance, or whatever.

Monday Joke

OK, not actually a joke, but these cartoons were funny enough I had to share...

It's tough to be Medusa.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

God bless Planned Parenthood

I've been reading story after story about Obama's invoking God's blessing upon Planned Parenthood. Most of the authors seem very angry that Obama could be so audacious, or the hypocrisy involved. Until last night I was thinking along the same lines. Then last night I was chatting with a friend who reminded me that God cannot go against His nature. So what kind of blessings could He bring to Planned Parenthood, should He heed Obama's prayer? Not likely what Obama intended when he made it.

It reminded me of the story of Joseph in Genesis 50, specifically verse 20, where Joseph remarks on his brothers' act in selling him into slavery "Even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good, to achieve this present end, the survival of many people." And so I join our president sincerely in saying "God bless Planned Parenthood."

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Judgement day

So today at the abortion clinic a woman pulled her car over to tell us we were bad people. Our crimes were judging people, wasting time instead of getting a job, judging people, not doing something useful like stopping war or poverty and not caring about women. I explained that we are not judging people, I have a job, we are not judging people, and I do oppose war and help the poor, and I do care about women.

She said we block women from going into the clinic. I told her we did not - that would be illegal. She said we yell hateful things and tell women they are damned to hell. I told her our "standard" speech - "You don't have to go in there, there's plenty of help available (we then name several crisis pregnancy centers they could go to)." We then typically tell them where to get free medical care, an allowance to care for their baby for several years after it's born, a place to stay, job training if they need it. We offer them a brochure on pregnancy health and fetal development, with phone numbers on it where they can get help. If there is a friend with them we ask the friend to please talk her out of it.

Sometimes we get "the finger". Often we get ignored. On very rare occasions we get threats. But at least a few times a day we have someone who will take the brochure and talk to us. Last week a woman didn't want to have an abortion but felt she couldn't afford a baby. She said she didn't even have a car to get to work. The gentleman I was with that day gave her his car (an old clunker, but it runs), and his phone number so she could call him if she had any more questions or needed help. She said she would call him later about the car, which she never did, but she didn't have the abortion either.

The woman continued to claim that we were haters who blew up and murdered doctors. I asked her to give an example. The only actual "pro-life violence" she could think of was the killing of George Tiller. I explained that the killer was not a member of any pro-life group, just a nut who killed for his own reasons. She did not believe me. I told her about pro-abortion violence, like the crimes Kermit Gosnell is being tried for (I forgot to mention James Pouillon, but I doubt she would have believed me anyway).

I explained to her that I am there on my lunch hour because more human beings are killed in that building alone every year than the total US casualties in Iraq. That I see women abused, going in and coming out crying. Women forced to go in by their boy friends. And I also see women changing their minds and thanking us. Sometimes they return later with their babies to show us.

I then thanked her for the conversation, and for her concern, and she drove away. I hope I gave her something to think about. I know I got a lot to think about from the conversation with her.

One of the things I've been thinking about is what did she mean by judging people? Because judging people means making a determination about their guilt or innocence, which necessitates assigning a motive. We realize that these women are all going in to do something which is objectively evil - the killing of an innocent human being. But we don't question their culpability or their motives. We assume that each woman, if she realized what abortion was and had an alternative, would choose it. We try to give her that alternative.

On the other hand, the woman who stopped actually was judging people. She assumed we hated women and didn't care and were trying to make people feel bad. She told us that outright. She assumes that pro-life people are criminals, who have no regard for human life, but are pushing some agenda (I don't know what she thinks the motive for it is - I wish I could ask her, but I didn't at the time).