Category: Politics

Voting's Not a Game–or It Shouldn't Be

I have to tell you, I am pretty disgusted with some of my fellow Tennesseans this morning.
No, NOT because Rick Santorum won our primary.  Let’s be honest–the pickings are slim in the Republican field.  You’ve got to vote for somebody, right?
It’s not the Republicans I’m disgusted with today–it’s some of the Democrats whose comments I read on Facebook last night.
Tennessee has open primaries.  That means if you are a Republican you can choose to vote in the Democratic primary and vice versa.  President Obama having no challenger, many Democrats chose to vote in yesterday’s Republican primary.
Full disclosure:  I did not vote yesterday because I did not take care of getting my address changed in time.  I believe I am registered as a Democrat.  Had I voted yesterday, I would indeed have crossed over, and would likely have voted for Mr. Gingrich because 1) He is smart; 2) He is against abortion; 3) He doesn’t want to ship all the illegal immigrants back to Mexico; 4) Mitt Romney doesn’t stand for anything but Mitt Romney; and 5) Rick Santorum doesn’t know what “preferential option for the poor” means.
I may have mentioned before that we are politics junkies in this house.  John majored in International Politics at Georgetown.  He really gets into this stuff, and we talk about it all the time, even with the kids from the time that they were all small.  And we’ve always thought the open primary was a neat opportunity to get to have a say in picking the very best nominee from the other side.  Last election, for example, we were excited to cast primary votes for Hillary Clinton.
What an open primary apparently is for a lot of other people, though, is a big joke.  These people make a mockery out of the democratic process.  Voting is a right, a responsibility, a sacred trust.  People have fought and died for this right.  It’s a right many people in the world still don’t have.
I wonder what Susan B. Anthony and company would have to say about Democratic women who voted for Rick Santorum, whom they characterize as a lunatic and worse, with the goal of ending up with a weak nominee whom President Obama can beat in the General Election?   All these people were chortling over their supposed cleverness on Facebook last night.
Yes, I am sure there are Republicans who would have done the same.  So what?  Does that make it any less morally reprehensible?
There’s no room for levity in the voting booth, people.  This partisan bullshit is getting out of control.  If you can’t bring yourself to cast a serious vote in the other side’s primary, stay on your own side and remember what you are doing–or supposed to be doing–when you pull that lever.  Then you can look at that waving flag with a little pride.

It's Religious Freedom, Stupid

The Catholic Church is supposed to proclaim the truth, not reflect the culture.
So IT DOES NOT MATTER if every single Catholic woman in America uses artificial birth control. (They don’t, by the way.  And that 98% figure that the media is flinging around is . . . shall we say . . . imprecise.  I’ll write about that another time.)
I’d say 98% of us Catholics have been unkind, have been dishonest, have yelled at our kids, have in general failed to live good Christian lives, some more than others.  Because, you know, we are human.  Does that mean the Church is supposed to fold and say those things aren’t sinful anymore?
This debate is not about reproductive freedom (that’s the liberal spin).  It’s not about the fact that most Catholics dissent from the Church’s teachings (that’s the media spin).  It’s not even really about President Obama being in a war against religion (that’s the conservative spin).  No, what this is about is freedom of religion.  It’s about the Constitution.  Is about the dismantling of a right that is absolutely intrinsic to what it means to be an American.  That’s why many progressive Catholics, erstwhile supporters of the President and his health care plan, are outraged.  This is so foundational that the lack of uproar among the Catholics in the pews–indeed, among people in general–astonishes me.
Don’t people remember their American history classes from grade school?  You know, the ones in which we all learned about people coming to this country to be free to practice their religion without government interference?  What if President Obama wanted to mandate (as has happened in France) that Muslim girls stop wearing their headscarves in public schools.  I don’t wear a headscarf.  The practice does not make any sense to me personally.  Some argue that it is demeaning to women.  But I would be furious if anyone tried to legislate against it and I bet a lot of others would as well.
Is it a problem that this disconnect between Church teaching on artificial contraception and the practice of most Catholics exists?  You bet it is.  There’s blame enough to go around, and I’ll write about that elsewhere so as not to cloud the issue.
American freedoms have already been eroded in the name of the “War on Terrorism.”  Do liberals really want to join in stripping away more of the rights on which this country was built?

Because Truth Matters

Let’s get this straight from the very beginning.  I’m not planning to vote for Rick Santorum.  I disagree profoundly with most of his positions.  So the defense that follows has nothing to do with my personal political leanings.  It has to do instead with my passion for the truth, the same passion that leads me to consult Snopes before forwarding emails, and to risk offending people by telling them that the emails they are forwarding are LIES.  And you can believe me or not, but I have even done this when the email in question supported my own prejudices.
Rick Santorum’s wife DID NOT have an abortion, no matter what you may have read to the contrary on your favorite website, or what your friend on Facebook said, no matter how much you want to believe it.  Here’s what happened in my own words:  Karen Santorum was about 19 weeks pregnant when her unborn baby was found to be suffering from a fatal condition.  This is where a lot of people choose to terminate.  Instead, the Santorums tried intrauterine surgery.  Tragically, the surgery caused an infection.  Mrs. Santorum had a fever of 105.  Again, instead of moving straight to early induction of their non-viable baby, the Santorums tried antibiotics first.  Labor started due to the infection.  Mrs. Santorum even asked for drugs to stop the labor.  Despite all the lies circulating on the internet, Pitocin was never administered.  Baby Gabriel was born at 20 weeks and apparently lived a short while.  Through this whole ordeal, the Santorums acted according to their stated principles.
Despite his admittedly strict anti-abortion/pro-life sentiments (no exceptions for rape or incest), I cannot find any evidence that Mr. Santorum ever said that abortion should be prohibited if it is necessary to save the mother’s life.  Both he and his wife in fact stated that if it had come down to his wife’s death or early induction, they would have chosen induction.  Mr. Santorum did sign a personhood pledge, but it provides an exception to save the mother’s life.
Here are links about the Santorums’ baby:  Salon article
NPR interview
Here are more links about his position on abortion to save the mother’s life:  http://www.dennyburk.com/gop-candidates-dont-allow-exceptions-for-the-life-of-a-mother/
http://politics.foxnews.mobi/quickPage.html?page=23681&content=63653356&pageNum=-1
So hate Mr. Santorum (or vote against him) for being pro-life, or anti-abortion, or anti-choice if you want–I don’t really care how you express it.  But don’t hate him for being a hypocrite, because he’s not.

Christians Who AREN'T

I’m updating and reposting this today because four years later a U.S. Senator felt it was appropriate, whether joking or not, to “pray” this prayer for our President at the Faith and Freedom conference held on June 9, 2016.So I’m taking my son and his girlfriend to the mall this morning, and find myself behind a car with the bumper sticker above.  Looks like a nice Christian sentiment, right?  Especially considering it was accompanied by one of those Christian fish symbols some people put on their cars (there was one on my late lamented Durango!).
I’m sorry to say, though, that in my experience many people who wear their Christianity on their sleeves (or on the back of their cars, as it were) frequently don’t appear to live up to the ideals they claim to espouse.  This is certainly a case in point.  A quick Google (by my son, not me–I was driving!) let us know the heart of this so-called Christian:  May his days be few; may another take his office!
Yes, that’s right!  The “Christian” in the car ahead of me wants us to pray that our President will die!
Lest you jump in and suggest the words are figurative, or that it means his days as POTUS should be few, go Google yourself some Bible commentary like I did, all of which made it quite clear that it is literal death that this Scripture describes.
Asking God to kill people you don’t like is not Christian, folks.  You are the kind of “Christians” that give the rest of us a bad name.  You know, those of us who are trying (and failing, because we are human) to do all that stuff that Jesus actually said?  Stuff like “Love your enemies, do good to those who hurt you, bless those who persecute you, turn the other cheek, forgive your brother 70 times 7 times, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  Don’t ask me for the chapter and verse–I’m Catholic, you know–but He said those things and you know He did.  WWJD about those bumper stickers?  Rip them off your smug little cars and tell you to get that plank out of your eye so you don’t have a wreck, I’m guessing.
You call yourself a Christian?  Then pray, REALLY pray, for your President.  Pray that he exercises wise leadership.  Pray that his heart changes on certain issues–yes, like abortion.  Pray, if you don’t like him, for wise leaders to arise to replace him.  Pray for your country.  But don’t pray for anyone’s death and then dare to call yourself a Christian.
You call yourself a Christian- (1)
Since I’ve decided to revisit this post, I am linking up with #WorthRevisit this week!  Visit the hosts of this weekly linkup at Theology is a Verb and Reconciled to You.

Martin Luther King and Abortion

mlk prolife
This was, I believe, my last column for the East Tennessee Catholic, published right around this time in 2010.  Since this is the time of year for participating in Martin Luther King parades and Marches for Life, it seems like a good day to share it with you.
Our small delegation from Immaculate Conception’s Social Justice Committee slogged down Kingston Pike, through ankle deep puddles and muddy grass, wet to the skin. Although our participation in the annual March for Life in the face of such weather proved our dedication to the pro-life cause, it wasn’t much fun.
Less than a week earlier, we had marched in the Martin Luther King parade. Unlike the snow we had braved the prior year, we were blessed with sunny weather that made the 2.5 mile walk a pleasure, especially with all the smiling people shouting greetings and encouragement from the sidelines.
As the chair of our Social Justice Committee, I had the task of promoting both these marches. In advance of the MLK event, we shared with the congregation the words of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: “We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers … At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace.”
The following week we drew a parallel between the two marches. We reminded everyone that the achievements of the Civil Rights Movement were fueled by Dr. King’s commitment to organized non-violent protest, a philosophy he adopted from Mohandas Gandhi. Dr. King said: “The method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity.” It is good to be reminded that we are not just marching to make ourselves feel good, but to effect change.
The proximity of these events made me wonder about Dr. King—were he alive today, would he march for the pro-life cause? Would he recognize abortion for the civil rights issue it is? I wanted to think so, but finding concrete information is difficult.
Pro-life websites claim him for our side, but can offer only indirect evidence. Pro-choice websites paint him as a certain supporter. Their argument centers around the Margaret Sanger Award, which Dr. King accepted from Planned Parenthood in 1966. But in 1966, Planned Parenthood was promoting birth control, not abortion. One of their pamphlets, published in August 1963 and titled Is Birth Control Abortion? said: “An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun. It is dangerous to your life and health. It may make you sterile so that when you want a child you cannot have it.”
While Dr. King is on record as supporting birth control, he cannot have known the truth about Margaret Sanger and her racist, eugenicist agenda, just as many people do not know it today. Had he done so, he surely would have refused an award which honors the woman who said of her strategy: “We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” (Margaret Sanger’s December 19, 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, 255 Adams Street, Milton, Massachusetts).
Advocates of King as pro-lifer point to his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, in which he espoused natural law theory, saying : “[T]here are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that an unjust law is no law at all. . . . A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”
They also point to the pro-life commitment of some of his closest associates, Dr. Ralph Abernathy and Rev. Jesse Jackson (yes, until the early 1980s!) both of whom are on record as deploring abortion. In truth, many black leaders of King’s time called it genocide.
Finally, Dr. King’s niece, Alveda King, has said: “What would Martin Luther King say if he saw the skulls of babies at the bottom of abortion pits? If Martin Luther King’s dream is to live, our babies must live. ” (Martin Luther King’s Niece Supports Right To Life, Boston University Daily Free Press, 18 January 2000, p.1)
At the dedication of memorials at the Birmingham church at which her father served as pastor, she added: “The great irony,” she said, “is that abortion has done what the Klan only dreamed of.” She told a meeting of Priests for Life that the killing of a quarter of the black population of the US has not been from the lynch mobs of her childhood days, but from abortionists, “who plant their killing centers in minority neighborhoods and prey upon women who think they have no hope.”
And on that note, staying true to their founder’s ideals, Planned Parenthood has purchased a medical building at 710 Cherry Street in East Knoxville, a predominantly black neighborhood. Non-violent protest deterred them from locating in mostly-white Bearden. While not offering surgical abortions, this center prescribes the abortion pill, RU-486. Pro-life advocates from both inside and outside the neighborhood are already organizing, fostering tensions just like Dr. King in the cause of justice for the unborn.
I’m linking up this post today at the #WorthRevisit linkup.  Visit there and also here to read more thought-provoking posts.

Can we talk . . . about abortion?

whywemarch
I have to tell you, I’m excited by the thoughtful responses engendered by my last post.  For one thing, as I happily blog away, it’s hard to know if I’m making any impression at all if no one responds.  For another, I have always been discouraged by the lack of opportunities for pro-life/pro-choice dialogue.
I’ve written and spoken on life issues for years, but I have always realized that most of my audience already agreed with me, and preaching to the choir isn’t any way to effect change. As I go forward with this blog I intend to continue writing about life issues.  And I want to be as clear as possible about my beliefs.
So I want to answer Leah’s comments with a whole blog post.  I’m not going to do it point by point, though, so if I miss anything let me know!
I would not wish to minimize in any way the difficulties faced by young mothers unexpectedly pregnant and without financial and personal resources.  I do think it is “pro-life” to find ways to help them.  That’s why I drew attention to Catholic Charities, which I believe is the largest such organization in the country, and the help that it IS giving to poor women and children in general and women in crisis pregnancies in particular.  Here in Knoxville there are at least two “Pregnancy Help” centers run by pro-life folks, and other cities have similar centers run by pro-life supporters.
Systemic change is another, more complicated issue.   I don’t mind saying that I tend to be “liberal” when it comes to providing aid to the poor and “conservative” when it comes to moral issues.  Here’s what Pope John Paul had to say about this in the Gospel of Life (Chapter 90):

The Church well knows that it is difficult to mount an effective legal defence of life in pluralistic democracies, because of the presence of strong cultural currents with differing outlooks. At the same time, certain that moral truth cannot fail to make its presence deeply felt in every conscience, the Church encourages political leaders, starting with those who are Christians, not to give in, but to make those choices which, taking into account what is realistically attainable, will lead to the re- establishment of a just order in the defence and promotion of the value of life. Here it must be noted that it is not enough to remove unjust laws. The underlying causes of attacks on life have to be eliminated, especially by ensuring proper support for families and motherhood. A family policy must be the basis and driving force of all social policies. For this reason there need to be set in place social and political initiatives capable of guaranteeing conditions of true freedom of choice in matters of parenthood. It is also necessary to rethink labour, urban, residential and social service policies so as to harmonize working schedules with time available for the family, so that it becomes effectively possible to take care of children and the elderly.

Did you read that?  Wow.  I answered Leah’s earlier comment by saying that the difficult circumstances weren’t pertinent to her sister’s choice to give birth.  I didn’t mean the circumstances that the children were born into were not important, or unfortunate, or damaging.  And I’m not accusing Leah, who is having a discussion with me and not a debate, of trying to confuse the issue.
But “professional” pro-choice advocates DO confuse the issue when they bring up all the unwanted children, all the kids in foster care, all the kids being born out of wedlock and into poverty, because since 1973 we can assume that women who have given birth CHOSE to do so, since abortion has been legal all that time!  In other words, abortion has NOT solved the problem of unwanted children or abused children or children being born into poverty, as some of its advocates presumed it would.  I could go into the contraceptive mentality argument to explain how legalized abortion has even contributed to these problems, but that is a post for another day.
Bottom line, if abortion kills, then it is wrong.  We can’t allow something so morally wrong in a civilized society.  Some people are especially called to fight for changes to the law.  Others are specifically called to work for systemic change to help the poor.  Others are called to direct charitable pursuits.  Yes, all of that can happen at once, and should.  However, no one can do everything, and some have gifts or passions that incline them in one direction more than another.  Once a year I march for life.  I’ve prayed outside abortion clinics.  I admire the people who do so faithfully week after week.  But I have written thousands of words about life issues because writing is my passion and my gift.
I also just don’t understand why any time someone says abortion should be illegal, he or she is immediately called upon to adopt babies or otherwise step up and solve the problem of “unwanted children.”  If I say I am against the death penalty (I am) no one expects me to go out and fight crime.  If I say I am opposed to the war in Iraq (yes, I am), no one asks me to do anything about that.  If I say I don’t think red light cameras are constitutional (not really sure about that, but I don’t like them!) no one demands that I stand at the corner of Henley and Summit Hill to arrest people.  It’s perfectly fine to have a conviction that any other law is wrong without having to back it up with action.  Think about it.
Back to Leah and the foster care system.  I don’t disagree with anything she says.  My husband is an attorney and I am his assistant.  I hear a lot about children with less than ideal parents and who are in and out of foster care.  We do a lot of Guardian ad Litem work where we do our best to determine the best placement for his little clients.  Some of the situations are heart-wrenching.  I don’t know what the answer is and I know what we have doesn’t always work.  Leah is right that these children are scarred at an early age and even if society doesn’t have the heart to care about the welfare of the children, society should care about the effect troubled kids have as they grow into troubled adults, falling into drugs and crime and becoming parents to another generation of troubled kids.
All I can say is that the right to life is fundamental.  Maybe these kids don’t have much of a chance but they have some chance, and it’s not our right to take that away from them.  I firmly believe part of the problem in the system IS our society’s lack of respect for life, which has led to a culture of death and destruction.
pope-francis-abortion-meme

Wishful thinking

Yesterday a Facebook friend was trying to convince others, via her status, that Pepsi was debuting a new can that included the whole Pledge of Allegiance except for the words “under God” (the HEATHENS!).  We were all supposed to put this in our statuses and NEVER EVER drink that devilish drink AGAIN!
Now I know very well by now that 99.9% of such internet claims are lies.  Some are feel-good lies, like all those sappy “inspirational” stories that are mostly just not true or are exaggerated for effect.  I don’t usually bother bursting anyone’s bubble over those.  But others, like this one, damage the reputations of individuals and businesses.  It only takes a few seconds to go to Snopes and check their validity, and so I always do and always will, even if I hated Pepsi and wished the company would go out of business!  Because, you know, truth is important, and if you have to tell lies to bolster your argument (now I’m thinking of political email forwards) then maybe you need to reconsider your position.
Anyway, the Snopes article did mention that the words “under God” are a late addition to the Pledge anyway, which I think I knew but had forgotten.  And since it’s truthful to say that our nation IS under God (because isn’t everything?) I think it’s a fine addition and I’m proud to say it.
However, this got me thinking about the Pledge, and about a practice that you might be surprised that I object to.  Frequently, at gatherings of pro-life folks, the Pledge is recited, with a postscript at the end:  “with liberty and justice for all, born and unborn.”  I don’t like that addition, and I won’t say it.  And you know why?  Because it isn’t true.  And no amount of saying it is going to make it true.
You might argue that even the “with liberty and justice for all”  part isn’t true, you anti-American you!  But even if it isn’t always true, it’s supposed to be.  Our laws support that ideal for the most part, as do our courts.  On the other hand, our laws explicitly reject liberty and justice for the unborn.
When we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, we are pledging allegiance to a government that has said it is okay to abort babies up until the day they are born.  That is simply a fact.  It is a government that has allowed and sanctioned and approved and codified many other things, some that I object to and some that you do.  I love my country and will continue to pledge allegiance to it, but that doesn’t make me blind to its faults, nor is it unpatriotic of me to think some changes are in order.
What do people mean when they say the Pledge in this altered way?  Are they saying that they aren’t really pledging allegiance to this country, but that they will if the abortion laws are changed?  Are they just pretending that what they wish was true is true?  They cannot claim that they are pledging allegiance to some sort of ideal that the flag itself symbolizes, because the pledge makes it quite clear that those reciting it are pledging allegiance to the country as well.
I know pro-lifers well, because I am one.  And I know many of them have worked tirelessly for changes in the country’s abortion laws.  But adding a phrase to the Pledge that amounts to nothing more than wishful thinking is at best pointless and at worst dishonest and counterproductive.

No expert here

I am not a parenting expert.  I am not a parenting expert.  I am not a parenting expert.  I want to make sure that I make that perfectly clear!  It can be dangerous to be thought of as a parenting expert, because then you are expected to have perfect children.  Then when you don’t (and who does?) people have plenty to say about it. 
I wrote a few weeks ago about my friend Katie Allison Granju, a well-known blogger and writer on parenting topics, whose son is now recuperating from serious brain injuries.  What I didn’t say is that his injuries were the result of a drug overdose and a drug-related assault.  What I didn’t even know, but what Katie has now made public, is that her son has been battling a serious drug addiction for years.
Katie never said she was a parenting expert–in fact, she disavowed the title in print on more than one occasion.  But she wrote a parenting book, and people who didn’t like what she said in it have taken this sad occasion as vindication of their opinions of her parenting methods.  Never mind that her book was about Attachment Parenting, one of the tenets of which is that you, the parent, learn from your child’s cues to be an expert on YOUR OWN CHILD.  Never mind that she never told anyone else how they should raise their children, only described how she was trying to raise hers.  On the second page of the book, she wrote: 

. . . the parenting book you now hold in your hands is fundamentally different from the others you may have seen.  It isn’t going to tell you exactly how often you should nurse your baby, or how many hours he should sleep each night because we don’t know you, your child, or your family.  Our philosophy is that you yourself–in partnership with your child–are the real “parenting experts” when it comes to your own family, even if you don’t realize it yet.

Ignoring all this, many mean-spirited folks have come out of the woodwork to blame her for her son’s drug addiction, to fault her for making it public, to accuse her of being narcissistic, and worse.  And, of course, this is what anyone who writes in a public forum knows she is risking by taking positions on sensitive issues.  I won’t quickly forget the many accusations that were hurled at me a few years ago when I wrote a column on Catholics and voting in the East Tennessee Catholic.
But even more than politics, people take their parenting responsibilities–and failures, if that is what they even should be called–very seriously.  It’s natural to look for guidance–would there be so many parenting books otherwise?  We all want to find someone who can tell us how to do the job right, because it is such an important job and such a hard one. 
I’m not that person.  I have a lot of kids, yes.  But that doesn’t make me an expert on YOUR kids.  Most days, I don’t even feel like I’m an expert on my own.  I feel like I know a few things, and I like to write about them, but I’m not guaranteeing that what has worked for me will work for you.  Lots of things I’ve tried HAVEN’T worked.  Lots of days I feel completely at a loss.  
In my opinion, people who think they have all the answers on parenting probably have never had any children.
So read the “authorities” or the “gurus” or just the moms like Katie and me and other bloggers out there who share experiences and maybe a  little wisdom, and take what works for you and leave the rest; and if you want advice from a real expert, listen to Dr. Benjamin Spock, who said to his readers: “Trust yourself.  You know more than you think you do.”

Pro-life, or Anti-Abortion?

This is a reprint of the very first column I had published in the East Tennessee Catholic.  Although it appeared in late 2001, I had actually written it over two years before, as one of three sample columns which were rejected by the then-editor. 
What does it mean to have a “consistent life ethic?” You may remember that as Jesus hung on the cross, the soldiers cast lots to decide who should have the robe he was wearing.  They couldn’t split it among them because it had no seams.  Some have referred to the concept of a consistent life ethic as the “Seamless Garment.”  Life is a continuum, and we cannot pick and choose whose lives we are going to care about and protect.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “Every human life, from the moment of conception until death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God”(2319).
If we are to be consistent–constant, dependable, invariable, steady, unfailing–in what we believe and do regarding life issues, we must protect and care for all life, not just the lives of the innocent unborn.  Many people have bumper stickers on their cars proclaiming, “We vote pro-life!”  Well, I would love to vote pro-life but I can’t find a pro-life candidate.
Under the topic of “You shall not kill” in the catechism, we read the obvious: abortion, homicide, suicide, and euthanasia are all prohibited.  But we also read that those who contribute to famines are liable for the deaths of the starving, that destroying whole cities in wartime is a crime, and that “the arms race is one of the greatest curses on the human race” (2329). The death penalty is limited to cases in which it would be necessary to protect other victims from the aggressor–something solitary confinement in a maximum security prison can certainly do.

Photo credit: wht_wolf96653 via Flickr


It is relatively easy to be pro-life when it comes to the slaughtering of an innocent in the womb. It’s harder to care about a serial killer. It’s pretty easy to know it’s wrong to throw a newborn in a dumpster. It’s harder to say that no one, no matter how sick he is or how much he is suffering, has a right to take his own life. It’s easy to decide to support laws which ban abortions. It’s harder to support laws requiring that tax dollars be spent to keep poor children off the street, to provide aid to mothers on welfare, to create programs for job training for unskilled workers.
Being consistent isn’t easy. All human beings are a mass of inconsistencies. Being a truly pro-life Catholic isn’t easy either, but Jesus never claimed that His was an easy road to follow.
“I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to buy a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough to love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please.”   –Wilbur Reese
God, the Giver of life, the Creator of life, calls us to believe in life 100%. If we’re only willing to give $3.00, then we aren’t pro-life. We’re just anti-abortion.

Facebook Friends . . . and Foes?

Politics and Facebook- Do They Mix-
It’s still Education Week, but I’m taking a short detour to ask what you think about discussing controversial topics with your friends on Facebook.  Specifically, since it’s a social site, is Facebook kind of like a virtual living room, where discussions of politics and religion should be off limits unless you know the people really really well or at least know they are likely to agree with you?  Or is it like newsgoups used to be, a great place to say whatever comes into your head and the devil take the consequences?  Or is it perhaps some kind of hybrid, since you know most of the people in real life, albeit not always very well?
I have found myself feeling compelled to post or comment on several comments of a political nature recently:  Health Care Reform, taxes, and the National Day of Prayer.  Part of it has to do with the desire to educate and to inform.  When people post the equivalent of email forwards without checking Snopes first, it infuriates me.  It just does.  It’s like gossip, only worse, because it’s so easy to check.  I never forward an email without checking, even when I would love to believe what it says.  And I usually go one step further and inform the person who sent it (sometimes even all the people they forwarded it to–I’ve been thanked by several people for that!) when they have sent out false information.  When I see a suspicious posting on Facebook, I check it on Snopes and then post the link.
I’m going to write a long post on the topic of Health Care Reform one day, I really am.  I hesitated to wade into the messy debate waging on Facebook, especially since a large portion of my Friend List would no doubt disagree with my sentiments on the issue.  But on the day after the Affordable Care Act passed, I did post:  “Leslie Hunley Sholly is looking forward to being insured.”   Because I am.  And because I think it’s important to put a face on some of the people who don’t have insurance in this country, since it’s so very easy to think bad things about people when you don’t know anything about them or their circumstances.
Which leads me to taxes.  Probably I just should have been quiet when a friend made a comment about the percentage of people in this country who don’t pay taxes.  But I did want to point out that here in Tennessee the very people who are not required to pay federal income tax have to pay a more burdensome percentage of their income in state and local sales taxes on everything they buy.  And then when the topic turned to people getting money back in the form of credits even when they had no tax liability, I felt that it was dishonest not to own up to having received money back myself this year–and being quite pleased about it!
What do you think?  Do you ever make “political” comments on Facebook?  If others do so, do you comment on them?  If people do make such comments, should they be upset when their “friends” disagree?  Should I just shut up and play Farmville?  Tell me in the comments!
A version of this post was featured on BlogHer!  Check it out below.
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