One of the coolest things about blogging is getting free books in exchange for sharing my honest opinion of them here. As I might have mentioned, I love books. I love them so much that I have big stacks of them and so sometimes I don’t review them as quickly as I am supposed to.
But not this one! Sydney and Calvin Have a Baby has such a compelling premise that I could hardly wait to read it. And since William had to have a root canal this week, I had a perfect opportunity to do it all in one sitting. In fact, I had just a few pages left and I read them while sitting in the Arby’s drive-thru on the way home because I just HAD to know what happened.
I read a lot of young adult novels because my daughter loves the genre and brings them to my attention. But this one is different for a couple of reasons–one, it’s a specifically Catholic novel, and two, it starts with a rape and ends with a baby.
That’s pretty heavy stuff for a teen novel, and let’s throw in a couple of deaths, an orphan, mean girls, a close call at the abortion clinic, and dysfunctional families aplenty. But the lovable, quirky main characters and the fresh narrative voice (Calvin, whose British accent you can almost hear) add humor and humanity without ever glossing over the truly terrible events in the story.
Perhaps when you think of a Catholic novel you imagine characters who pray all the time, lots of priests and nuns, and plenty of preaching. That’s not what you’ll find here. The Catholicism is mostly background–the kids go to a Catholic school, the families are nominally Catholic in that they go to Mass on Sunday and not much else. The only truly devout Catholic we see is Calvin, and the Catholic heart of the story is in its redemptive message.
I enjoyed this novel so much that I would love to read more about Sydney and Calvin. I would especially recommend it for a Catholic youth discussion group.
It’s come to my attention that many (maybe even most?) of my fellow Catholics are a bit confused on the issue of voting. How do I know this? Because FACEBOOK, mostly. If any Catholic is on Facebook telling any other Catholic that he or she is in a state of mortal sin or hellbound for voting for Hillary Clinton (or Donald Trump, for that matter), that Catholic clearly needs a refresher course (maybe a first course?) on Catholic voting.
I can see why some of them would be confused, too, when you’ve got deacons preaching about whom to vote for and Bishops and priests making ill-advised and incorrect statements in the press and people putting unauthorized flyers in parish bulletins. I’ve seen and read about all of this, and you probably have too, and I’m not going to link to these folks to give them any more undeserved attention and the opportunity to spread more misinformation. (By the way, here’s what our Bishops have to say about such activities.)
Some of you have probably also seen voting guides from Catholic Answers or EWTN, and have (understandably) assumed that you could trust such well-known sources. But the ONLY authorized voting guide (and that includes this blog, which is why my advice to you is going to be backed up by authoritative links) is the Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, published in every election year by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. That’s the ONLY document with the authority of the Magisterium behind it. If you haven’t read it yet, you haven’t done your homework and you shouldn’t cast a vote until you do.
You might also want to familiarize yourself with Catholic Social Teaching. And you are certainly going to want to read the section of the Catechism which deals with the formation of conscience. And it goes without saying that you should read about the candidates and their positions on issues of importance to Catholics, of course making sure to check your sources.
Frankly, I think the Church and its members would be in a lot better shape if we all spent more time reading the above documents and less on Breitbart News and Occupy Democrats. Particularly in matters of faith I would suggest spending more time on the Vatican and USCCB sites and less on LifeSite News and HuffPo Religion.
Anyway, I’m going to paraphrase some of this, but I am not a theologian and this is not an approved voting guide so you really ought to go to the links provided and read for yourself.
Short version: You can vote for anyone you want to, but not for the wrong reasons.
What does this mean? Here’s an example: We all know that Hillary Clinton supports legalized abortion. Abortion is an intrinsic evil that deserves the highest level of attention from Catholics. So if you vote for Hillary Clinton BECAUSE she supports abortion, that’s wrong. If you are a Catholic, you can’t do that.
Every candidate running this year has certain positions that run contrary to Church teachings. YOU CAN STILL VOTE FOR ANY OF THEM, as long as you are voting for the DESPITE these positions AND in the presence of PROPORTIONATE REASONS.
Back when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Emeritus Benedict explained how this works. He’s a scholar and used lots of big words, so here is the simplified version: Voting for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil (like abortion or racism) requires the presence of a proportionate reason.
In her wisdom, the Church so far has not defined what these proportionate reasons might be, although if you Google you will find plenty of Catholics expressing their opinions. But they are only opinions, and everyone will reach his own conclusions about this, according to his conscience.
But Trump is just AWFUL, you say. How could there be ANY reason proportionate enough to justify voting for him? Well, maybe a Catholic voter is convinced that Mr. Trump really has had a conversion of heart and is truly pro-life. Our next President will probably have the opportunity to appoint several Supreme Court justices. Mr. Trump has said he will appoint justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade. Faced with the possibility of ending the evil of abortion, this person feels he cannot in good conscience fail to vote for a candidate who might achieve this.
Still can’t understand it? Guess what? You don’t have to! It’s not your business how your fellow Catholics vote. It’s not their business how YOU vote! You don’t get to tell them they are going to hell and they don’t get to tell you that you are excommunicated.
One more quote from the Bishops: “We strongly urge all parishioners to register, to become informed on key issues, and to vote. The Church does not support or oppose any candidate, but seeks to focus attention on the moral and human dimensions of issues.”
And from our Holy Father, when directly asked what the American faithful should keep in mind while voting: “In electoral campaigns, I never say a word. The people are sovereign. I’ll just say a word: Study the proposals well, pray and choose in conscience.”
Being accused of being more Catholic than the Pope is not a compliment, y’all. Can we all take our cue from the Bishop of Rome and mind our own consciences–and our own business?
I’m back for the first time in awhile with Sunday Snippets, RAnn’s delightful gathering of Catholic bloggers around the web.
Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve spent a lot of time tweeting this week, sharing #whywemarch posts, rather than writing, but I did manage to get a couple of posts up!
First, this quick preview of Spring
Then, a book review (and by a Catholic author, at that!)
I’d also like to share a couple of timely old posts that I resurrected in honor of the events of this week. Was Martin Luther King Pro-Life? Not This Woman’s Issue
I’d love to hear what you think! And be sure to check out the others in the linkup!
So the other day I was looking at this sort of small boil thing on my leg (I know, I know, TMI but necessary to the story). “Do you think this could be a staph infection?” I asked Teddy, figuring he would be the expert since things like that tend to lurk in locker rooms. “Could be,” he answered. “Well, if I start to see some necrotizing flesh I guess I will go see a doctor,” I said, and I was only kidding a little bit.
I went with John to his doctor yesterday. There was no more putting it off. He hadn’t seen a doctor for any sort of follow up since being diagnosed with diabetes in February. They called him over the phone to let him know. They didn’t tell him how to check his blood sugar, or what he should be eating, or anything. And now he was out of his medicine. He’d been out of five or so other medications for several months, but knowing so little about diabetes we didn’t know what would happen if he stopped taking that one. So off we went.
We left $150 poorer, with a lab bill to follow, with a handful or prescriptions that will cost us over $500 every month IF we fill them all every month, and that’s after prescription club card discounts.
The last time I wanted to see the doctor, earlier this year, because my leg was swollen and I was worried about a blood clot, I went to the emergency room. Yes, I am one of those people. Why? Because when I called the doctor’s office where I go when I am sick (which is thankfully never) they said I hadn’t been there in over three years, so I would be a new patient, and they would have to charge me for a check up first, and they wouldn’t be able to see me right away. And I would have had to pay the whole bill right then. This also happened to me the last time I got sick enough to need a doctor. That time (I had walking pneumonia) I ended up at the Walgreens walk-in clinic (I recommend them, by the way.). See, healthy uninsured people don’t get annual physicals. So they don’t have a relationship with a doctor. When they get sick, they wait a few days. Tough it out. See if it won’t get better on its own.
Emily has student insurance because Spring Hill requires it. She graduates in May and will enter the ranks of the uninsured unless she finds a job that provides insurance. Luckily for her she is astonishingly healthy–no antibiotics or doctor visits for illness since the age of two. The other kids are on TennCare but I’m pretty sure Jake gets kicked to the curb at 19–bad news, since he does take medications that it fully covers. Teddy will have coverage in college, I suppose, and even if we lose TennCare for the little ones as we have fewer dependents, there is a program called CoverKids for them.
I could write several columns about the failures of TennCare but I won’t because despite all of them I am grateful that my kids have had insurance of any sort. There were years when they didn’t, when I sucked it up and asked for a bill at the doctor’s office while staring at the sign stating that all accounts needed to be paid in full at the time of service, when we waited a day or two longer than other people might to see the doctor, hoping things would improve on their own, when we paid $100 for eyedrops for a corneal abrasion and used them on pinkeye outbreaks for years in order to get our money’s worth.
So how did we end up here? Where did we go wrong? Aren’t those uninsured people, those people who think they are entitled to healthcare, people who don’t work, or who are deadbeats, or who just don’t bother to purchase insurance?
Well no, they are people just like us, which is why I am writing about this very personal topic. Because I think people ought to know that.
I’m not going to go through the last twenty-plus years and tell the whole sorry saga of our health insurance blues, because it would take too long and probably be boring. I’ll just hit the high (the low?) points.
Growing up, I never thought about health insurance, and I’m sure you didn’t either. I went straight from my father’s plan to my husband’s–I got married less than three months after I graduated from college. I remember how fun it was reading about the plans and deciding which one we should pick. That was right at the beginning of HMOs, and the Federal Government (where John worked then) offered Kaiser Permanente, which was free but kind of sucked, actually. But it was a lot better than nothing.
The only problem was that when we moved to Knoxville, Cobra notwithstanding, we were screwed, because there was no Kaiser here. So with a baby on the way, we entered the ranks of the uninsured. I got a job at UT that had great benefits, but not for pre-existing conditions! So Emily was an out-of-pocket purchase, paid off over many long years, as were two of our other babies.
I was also writing for the Tennessee Register then, and I wrote a long article about the burgeoning health care crisis in this country–something I had never heard of at that time. All the experts I interviewed said it was only going to get worse. When I was seeking a position with the East Tennessee Catholic, I showed that article to the then-editor, and he wanted to know what it had to do with Catholicism. Ah, hindsight.
That was my last full-time job, so I never was offered insurance again. John was, at his first post-law-school position, but the family plan was so expensive that we couldn’t afford it, plus I was pregnant already and it wouldn’t cover that pre-existing condition–that didn’t stop TennCare from kicking me off though–because I was OFFERED insurance, even though we DIDN’T get it and it wouldn’t have covered me if we had!
Several years later, after John began practicing law on his own (that means no group coverage, people), he found a nice insurance agent who said he could get us affordable private-pay coverage. He came out to the house and we picked a plan. A few weeks later, we got the bad news: because of his pre-existing health conditions, and the medications he was already taking, John had been declared officially uninsurable.
That’s right, folks: that’s how insurance companies hold their costs down. They weed out the people who need the coverage most.
After awhile, we did the math. Paying monthly premiums, the deductible, and the co-pays for people who rarely if ever got sick made it impossible for us to afford the care and medications for the one person in the house who needed it. We had to drop that insurance and it’s only become less affordable since.
In the ensuing years, there have been times (pregnancies, extended illnesses, excessive medical bills) that we’ve been able to qualify for TennCare in one form or another. I was able to get my gall bladder removed during one of those times, happily. In between, John only goes to the doctor for medication refills and we look for patient assistance programs and samples to cover the costs of his medications, or else he goes without “less important” medications.
Something has to be done about the state of health care in this country. My European friends laugh at our resistance to “socialized medicine.” They can’t understand why we wouldn’t want what they have. The Affordable Health Care Act is not perfect, but it’s a start. I trust the pro-life Democrats’ assurances that they are satisfied with the concessions that were made to them before they voted for the bill. I may yet read the whole thing (900+ pages) to see what all it includes for myself. My feelings about the HHS mandate are already on the record but I am still hopeful that it will be overturned or modified.
Reform has to come, one way or another, sooner or later. It’s coming too late for some people.