KITCHEN TABLE CHATS

Pull up a chair in my domestic church and let's chat!

I have worn many labels (Not in any particular order): Catholic, Wife, Mom,Gramma, Doctor, Major, Soccer Mom, Military Wife, Professor, Fellow.

All of these filter my views of the world. I hope that like St. Monica, I can through prayer, words and example, lead my children and others to Faith.
"The important thing is that we do not let a single day go by in vain without putting it to good use for eternity"--Blessed Franz Jägerstätter

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Washington Post and I agree on the China one child policy. Could we agree on more?

Quick! Check the temperature of Hell! The Washington Post editorial board and I are in full agreement! Yesterday, my article on the so-called changes to the China one child policy was published on the HLI Truth & Charity forum. In it I wrote:

Chinese population control policy is not ethically more palatable because the Chinese government now allows two children instead of one under certain narrow conditions...The Chinese government still forcefully inserts itself into the intimate marital relationships of Chinese citizens. The policy change still views children as commodities whose production can be regulated like any other commodity in a centrally controlled economy. Families exist at the pleasure of the state and for the sole purpose of the support of the state. Rearranging the superficial details of a policy built on a rotten foundation does not halt the moral decay. There is no cause for celebration and there should be no kudos for Chinese leaders until they completely abandon all efforts to dictate who may have children and how many children they may have.
Then I woke up this morning to a Washington Post editorial saying:
Yet the thinking behind the one-child policy has survived: the arrogance of power, the notion that the state’s judgment is superior to the individual’s. Having created an economic superpower on the sweat of hundreds of millions of workers who labored for skimpy wages in coastal factories, China now faces the reality that the lower birthrate could weaken economic growth. So the party is fiddling with the population controls again, as coldly as did the original architects of the policy...The one-child policy was a stake driven through individual freedom. Rather than continue to tinker with this misguided philosophy, China should abolish population controls altogether and unleash the ingenuity and energy of its people by allowing every one of them, individually, to make life’s most important decisions.
Sarcasm aside, I am very pleased that diverse ideologies can agree on the affront to human dignity posed by the one child policy. I would now like to apply this sentence from the Post's editorial to other topics: Yet the thinking behind the one-child policy has survived: the arrogance of power, the notion that the state’s judgment is superior to the individual's.

Is it not that same arrogance of power that leads to state intervention in school curriculums, parenting practices, food choices,  education in morals, and the exercise of religious beliefs? The many mandates of the Affordable Care Act are examples of that same arrogance of power. The state knows what kind of medical care you need. The state knows when treatment is no longer worthwhile. The state knows how you should be spending your discretionary income and deems you should be spending it on more health insurance than you desire. The state knows what doctor is best for you. The state knows what hospital is best for you. The state knows who is worthy of life and who should just be left to die. 

Perhaps if we could do a better job of illustrating how big government is really the result of the arrogant elite exercising their power over the masses we would find more support for the concept of small government and subsidiarity. The fact that the Washington Post and I can find common ground on this principle gives me hope.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Word games from the culture of death

My latest article for Zenit is now published. You can read the whole article here. The culture of death is still obscuring the truth with word games. The latest addition to their double speak is "post-fertilization contraception".
Cognizant that these word games do not change the reality that preventing implantation destroys a human life, advocates of the IUD, morning-after pill, and regular hormonal contraceptives have downplayed the abortifacient nature of such birth control. But now there is a push to drop the façade and embrace prevention of implantation as an acceptable mechanism for birth control. Writing in the Journal for Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, a team led by Dr. Elizabeth G. Raymond calls on the medical community to pave the way for the acceptance and development of new abortifacients. The first step is again a semantic maneuver with the adoption of the term “post-fertilization contraception” for medications and procedures that prevent implantation.

The Snark Factor: An examination of my blogging conscience

I entered the blogging world in 2006. It is hard to believe it has been almost eight years. This blog has gone through several iterations and I am sure will continue to evolve as long as I continue writing.

When I first discovered the Catholic blogosphere, I was so excited. I devoured blog after blog. Here was a community that shared my commitment to the Church in a way I didn't always see in my local parish. I jumped right in and made many friends. Many I have had the good fortune to meet in person.

Reflecting on these years of blogging I find that I am not reading near as many other bloggers as I used to. I am also not writing on my own blog as much as I used to. Some of this is because much of what used to show up on blogs is now showing up on Facebook. I am also now getting paid for much of what I write so things that I would post on my blog are being shifted to income generating venues.

But there is also a darker side to my slight retreat from the online blogging community. Since 2006 we have gone through two presidential elections, numerous local elections, and social upheaval from a growing secular culture that is hostile to religion. We are a society that is starkly polarized into "us" and "them". With that, bloggers including myself, have often devolved into purveyors of snark. It just feels so good to publish that zinger that exposes the opposition to be a pathetic caricature of lies and evil. But is that Christian?

There is no doubt that there is a great deal of evil around us. All the efforts to diminish the sanctity of life anywhere along the continuum from conception to natural death can only be described as evil. All of the efforts to undermine the dignity of marriage between one man and one woman are truly evil acts. The dehumanization of children by regarding them as nothing more than acquisitions to be obtained for the pleasure of adults is unquestionably evil.

Yet I only add more evil when I fail to respect the human dignity of those with whom I disagree. Disagreement actually seems like a woeful understatement. I am repulsed by their utilitarian philosophies. I abhor their arrogance in thinking they are wise enough to decide who is worthy to live and who should die. I resent their twisting of Church teaching to mislead and justify evil. Even so, as a Christian, I am called to see the face of Christ in each of their faces. It is a wounded, suffering face. And I am called to love them and help them heal. No healing occurs with the application of snark. Instead, wounds are ripped open wide and the pain and suffering only deepens.

Snark is a great tool for whipping those with whom we agree into a frenzy of righteous anger. And we should feel angry every time someone who is strong and powerful exploits someone who is weak and vulnerable. But our response must not be an angry response but one of love. Not necessarily the hearts and rainbow love that is just happy feelings, but the intentional tough love that demands we speak the truth. Spoken clearly. Spoken joyfully. Spoken with charity. Too often snark just begets more snark.

So I am trying to be more aware of when my reading and writing is leading me down the dark road of hurtful sniping and sarcasm. Hopefully I will be open to the Grace of the Holy Spirit and my work will exude more love than snark. There is nothing wrong with expressing passion and even anger. But the people who ignite my ire are still children of God made in the image of God. Perhaps that is why so many saints found strength in contemplating the face of Jesus. Keeping His suffering countenance in mind makes it easier to see Him in the faces of those we call friends and, more importantly, those we call foes.




Sunday, November 03, 2013

An articulate and rightly reasoned response to Common Core

Over 100 highly esteemed Catholic Scholars have written a letter denouncing Common Core. They sent this missive to every Catholic bishop to urge them to reject Common Core for Catholic schools. Please take the time to read the entire letter. A most salient excerpt is this:

Common Core adopts a bottom-line, pragmatic approach to education. The heart of its philosophy is, as far as we can see, that it is a waste of resources to “over-educate” people. The basic goal of K-12 schools is to provide everyone with a modest skill set; after that, people can specialize in college – if they end up there. Truck-drivers do not need to know Huck Finn. Physicians have no use for the humanities. Only those destined to major in literature need to worry about Ulysses. 
Perhaps a truck-driver needs no acquaintance with Paradise Lost to do his or her day’s work. But everyone is better off knowing Shakespeare and Euclidean geometry, and everyone is capable of it. Everyone bears the responsibility of growing in wisdom and grace and in deliberating with fellow-citizens about how we should all live together. A sound education helps each of us to do so.
 The sad fact is that as standardized testing shifts to focus on the Common Core standards we will surely see educators "teaching to the test". Yet the purpose of primary and secondary education is more than just teaching a specific skill set. We should also be teaching students how to think. Notice I said "how" not "what" to think. One of the best classes my son had in high school was a debate class. The teacher taught students to look deeper than the sound bites. They analyzed speeches by current public officials and graded the strengths of their arguments. They learned to recognize "straw men" arguments and detect logical fallacies.

Every high school student should graduate with a classically liberal (not politically liberal) education. The curriculum should provide a familiarity with math, science, literature, art, rhetoric, economics, history and philosophy. If we dumped all the social indoctrination of sex "education", diversity training, and environmental activism, we would have time to actually educate them.

The dumbing down of our education system has given us a generation of students who think the most important criteria for judging literature is the gender and race of the author. When this parody was published on the US News web site, far too many commenters viewed it as an actual proposal because they were completely unaware of the gold standard of satire, Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal. When teaching about the bones of the skull, I routinely put up a slide that shows a man holding a skull and saying, "Alas, poor Yorick". I am lucky if anyone recognizes it is from Shakespeare and impressed if anyone knows it is from Hamlet. Awe, wonder, and beauty are lost on these students.

I do not see public education recovering its bearings anytime soon. This is not the fault of individual teachers as much as it is the fault of parents, administrators, and teachers' unions. Parents warehouse their children in schools with little concern for what occurs inside. They also fail to instill an expectation and love of learning. Administrators focus on social and political agendas. Unions concern themselves with maximizing money and power with no regard for the education of students. Therefore, it is up to the Catholic schools and the homeschoolers to be the beacon of light in American education. Common Core will do nothing but dim this light.