What a Human Being Is

June 25, 2011 on 2:58 pm | In abortion, Catholicism, daily life, education, employment, ethics, faith, family, Homosexuality, morality, motherhood, parenting, right to life | No Comments

Best blog I’ve just come across (H/T Brutally Honest): One Cosmos. This really hit home for me:

I am now resigned to the fact that it will take the rest of my life to eradicate the secular indoctrination I assimilated through osmosis just by virtue of living in this time and place, but greatly exacerbated by my passage through the upper reaches — or darkest depths — of academia.

Unlike Gagdad Bob, as much time as I’ve spent in academia for the most part I’ve managed to spurn its far left liberalism. I consider my degrees two pieces of paper earned through enduring years of indoctrination with my mental fingers shoved in my ears in a struggle to stay sane. As far as attaining an “education,” 98% of that came from my own efforts outside the classroom.

However, I do agree with Bob. Society has to a great extent indoctrinated me. I find myself recognizing the politically correct impulses I have when I read certain news stories, and I catch myself thinking in ways that reveal to me just how much I’ve become a creation of this time and place. It’s almost impossible not to be. I was raised by conservative parents, but I grew up thinking that I ought to have a career, to accomplish something in terms of jobs leading to better jobs, leading to…what? Some sort of economic and social status, something that provided an impressive response to the question “What do you do?” Spending my entire adulthood in Southern California has only made it worse. Here it’s expected that a woman, particularly a white middle class one, has some sort of career.  And if she doesn’t, she is doing something time consuming outside of the home (charity, social activities, etc.).

The problem for me was, once I began having and raising my children, that was what I wanted to do. To raise them. I married a man whose own mother always worked; for that and other reasons (some economic, some psychological) he expected me to have a career as well. Parenting apparently is not a career. You are certainly not going to get props when you answer “What do you do?” with “I’m a mom.”

For decades I’ve struggled with the instinctive, God-given drive to create a home (the kind where meals are made from scratch, and I’m there when the kids get home from school each day), while trying to find jobs that approximated a career enough to satisfy my relatives and society. “I’m a writer/editor/systems administrator/teacher…I work for a non-profit/with a small business/in a winery/for ____ school district.” All the while resenting the time those jobs took away from my life at home, and hating that I can’t–don’t–feel confident in boldly asserting “I’m a Mom.”

Our society has made being a mom only “cool” if you are a single celebrity, or better yet, a single lesbian celebrity. Being a mom married to the father of your children before they were conceived, and staying married to him afterward is not cool. Cleaning your own house and your family’s laundry, preparing meals everyday, and being there for your kids isn’t “cool” either. And it’s definitely not “a career.”

As the LA Times trumpets that families are evolving, “open[ing] up new possibilities that can only be good for our society — to have more diversity, more examples of what life can be,”  and the NY Times cheers the passage of a gay marriage act, I feel the intentional marginalization from society. And I completely agree with Gagdad Bob’s assessment:

…the most important idea of culture is its idea of what a human being is. In other words, in a way, everything follows from one’s anthropology. Get that wrong and your life is doomed, i.e., drained of its objective meaning (and if that is all that happens, consider yourself lucky).

If a culture’s notion of man is flawed, then one of two things follows. Either the culture in question will “give birth to destructive aspirations,” and/or it will become “incapable of realizing its fondest hopes,” irrespective of how “nobly” and humanistically they are expressed (Weigel). Good intentions, road to hell, unintended consequences, Murphy’s Law, New Deal, Great Society, Change You Can Believe In, blah blah.

For example, places such as Cuba, China, North Korea, and the vast majority of the Muslim world are laboring under a deeply false understanding of what man is. Likewise, we should all be able to agree, illiberal leftist and conservative liberal alike, that our battle for civilization — the culture war — may be reduced without oversimplification to a dispute over the nature of man.

Clearly, we are dealing with two anthropologies that are absolutely irreconcilable. One embodies the traditional American view that man’s life and liberty are rooted in the Creator and all this implies.

Conversely, the secular leftist view insists that man is but the residue of random Darwinian accidents, with no essential being and therefore no intrinsic rights or duties but a whole lotta gimme. In this world view, everything is necessarily relative, which makes its adherents all the more dangerous, for their metaphysic prevents them from seeing how authoritarian dogma creeps in through the back door — such as the absolute right to kill one’s unborn child, or the absolute duty for you to pay for the healthcare of irresponsible slackers.

This makes me realize that my struggle for identity as a woman, and my lack of security in my role as a mother, is part of a much bigger struggle. It’s part of a struggle to define what humanity is, and what it ought to be. A struggle between accepting or rejecting the idea that each human being has been created with a purpose by a divine Creator. That we are given free will, but that the choices we make are not neutral. That we are all responsible for the effects of our choices.

“…to be human is to be a moral agent” (ibid.). In other words, freedom is ineluctably tied in with good and evil, otherwise it is a kind of blind nothing floating atop an absolutely opaque nothingness.

Good stuff, and there’s more here.

Good Friday Thoughts

April 22, 2011 on 12:21 pm | In Catholicism, children, Christianity, daily life, Obama, religion, Southern California | No Comments

Going to the beach today with the Japanese kids. For some reason, our corner of SoCal has been persistently cloudy all week. Go figure. Of course, next week the weather gurus are predicting sunshine…and next week the kids will be back in school.

In the meantime, some must reads (really, they are well worth the time takes to read them):

Single Dad Laughing’s Worthless Teenagers and the Parents Who Make Them

Victor Davis Hansen’s Patient Obama

And especially for Good Friday, Gerard Nadal’s Will, BroKen at Brutally Honest’s Good for good, and LaShawn Barber’s Raised with Christ.

Bread and Circuses

March 2, 2011 on 12:11 pm | In abortion, Catholicism, celebrity, daily life, death, entertainment industry, lunacy, morality | No Comments

Just how screwed up are we?

On February 23, 2011, Dr. Bernard Nathanson passed away. Nathanson was unarguably a very significant person.

Dr. Nathanson, who died Monday at age 84, was a Manhattan gynecologist. In 1969 he helped found the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, with the aim of making abortion legal.

A onetime self-described militant for abortion rights, Dr. Nathanson in 1969 picketed a New York City hospital and pushed for passage of the New York state act legalizing abortion the following year. He acted as a spokesman for NARAL in its early years, calling for increased access to abortion for the poor, and became director of Manhattan’s Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health.

“We’re interested in the poor people who have had to use the back-alley butchers in the past,” Dr. Nathanson told the Christian Science Monitor in 1970.

Yet within a few years, Dr. Nathanson, at the time a self-professed “Jewish atheist,” became convinced by ultrasound and EKG imagery that the fetus was a human life.

“There is no longer serious doubt in my mind that human life exists within the womb from the very onset of pregnancy,” he wrote in 1974.

Dr. Nathanson’s conversion brought with it a denunciation of his former allies, whom he accused of “moral myopia” in his 1979 book, “Aborting America.”

He accused pro-abortion crusaders—including his former self—of outright lies about the number of women killed by illegal abortions, said by supporters of abortion rights to be 5,000 to 10,000 a year. The real number, he wrote, was far lower.

Nathanson’s conversion to the Pro-Life movement came as a result of ultrasound technology.  After watching an unborn baby react to the suction device aborting it, Nathason’s perception of abortion and fetal development were forever altered. In 1996, Nathanson (an atheistic Jew) converted to Catholicism, and remained a devout Catholic until his death.

Googling “Bernard Nathanson” under “NEWS” for the dates 02/23/11 to 03/02/11 brings up a total of  137 results. The vast majority are conservative or religious in nature. The only notable exceptions are substantive obituaries in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Washington Times.

Apparently the rest of the country’s newspapers (not to mention the television media) find unremarkable the passing of the man who helped found NARAL only to become the most articulate voice against abortion.

Googling “Charlie Sheen” for the same date range? 18,500 results. If we expand the search beyond “NEWS,” we get 1,340,000,000 results for that date range.

The mind–and the stomach–reel.

As Gerard Nadal points out,

Dr. Nathanson’s funeral was not deemed worthy of mention, a funeral held in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and concelebrated by the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Love him or hate him, Bernard Nathanson was a very consequential man in human history, and helped birth the institution that has prevented the births of over 53 million Americans.

Lesser mortals receive far more attention in death. This was an intentional blackout, and a missed opportunity by the New York media.

I think that the deliberate ignoring of Nathanson’s passing, and the unbelieveably intense focus on the absurd antics of a drugged up utterly amoral actor speak to the same thing. Our society is really screwed up. Our focus is so distorted, so wrong, that it’s a wonder we can function cooperatively at all.

Not that we do, considering what’s going on in Wisconsin’s capitol. I never thought I’d feel sorry for a politician, but having hundreds of angry people run after and surround you while they yell “Shame!” has got to be terribly unsettling.

 

 

Blog Recommendations for 2011

December 30, 2010 on 3:46 pm | In abortion, Catholicism, children, Christianity, cooking, daily life, ethics, faith, morality, motherhood, parenting, religion, right to life | 3 Comments

My blogroll (on the right) is pretty short as such things go. I don’t provide links to blogs unless I actively read the blogs myself, am supportive of their contents, and the bloggers actively post. This means that–sadly–I sometimes drop names off my blogroll; if a writer has not posted anything new in at least three months, I figure they’re no longer active and there’s no point in sending traffic their way.

As we head into a new year, I have some new names to add to my blogroll, and I heartily recommend you bookmark and read them in 2011:

The Art of Manliness

I have two sons. One is already a man, one is on his way there. It’s not easy to raise manly men nowadays; the metrosexualization of western society conspires against it. This blog celebrates with humor and insight the “art of manliness.” Packed with helpful posts such as “3 Knots Every Fisherman Should Know” and “How to Shave Like Your Grandpa,” it’s a treasure trove for any guy wanting to live a manly life. (H/T Brutally Honest).

Bryan Allain

I think I came across him when he was guest blogging on Jon Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like blog. Or maybe it was because of Bryan’s Living With the Amish series. At any rate, Bryan is multitalented; he does podcasts, animated videos, and he’s a clever, inspired writer.

La Shawn Barber’s Corner

Both eloquent and down to earth, in her own words, “Southern-born and raised, repentant and Reformed, La Shawn writes about politics, faith, and culture.” Check out her “Thrill of the Chaste” article at Townhall.com.

Home on the Range

Guns and gourmet cooking?! Sign me up! Down home humor + excellent recipes x great photographs = a  winner in all regards. Good grief, did I just use a mathematics metaphor? Where’s the eggnog…

Quivering Daughters

This is a blog that speaks to those affected by “paternalistic” Christian legalism. I’ve never directly experienced that sort of religion (they’d throw the likes of me out before you could spell “exegesis”) but I have seen its damaging effects upon others. Hillary McFarland and her guest bloggers offer grace and healing, and profound insight into the damage authoritarianism inflicts upon women.

Coming Home

A blog where science and faith intersect. Gerald Nadal is a molecular biologist and microbiologist as well as a devout Roman Catholic. With logic, clarity and compassion he explores fundamental life issues such as abortion, euthanasia and eugenics.

The Internet Monk

Begun by the late Michael Spencer and continued by his friend Michael Mercer, this blog focuses on “Jesus shaped spirituality.” Known variously as the “emergent church movement,” the “urban monastic movement,” the “resurgence,” and a return to reformation theology, essentially this is Christianity in its most pure form: a belief that the Kingdom of God looks like Jesus and that the heart of Christianity is simply imitating him. If you long for a life of Christianity, not religion, this is the blog you want to read.

Eric Pazdziora

As someone without a musical bone in my body, I am in awe of those God has gifted with musicality. Eric Pazdziora is a young Christians classical* pianist and composer whose music is hauntingly beautiful, stirring and most definitely inspired. And he writes wonderfully as well.

* (It’s probably not technically  “classical” music, but what do I know–I’m not musical. Eric writes hymns and worship songs that hearken back to classical roots)

As I look at that handful of blogs, I’m struck by the randomness of their selection. Which seems perfectly apropos for someone whose own blog is Random Thoughts!

This can’t be what Peter had in mind

April 11, 2010 on 1:32 am | In Catholicism, Christianity, crime, Homosexuality, morality | 1 Comment

I am not a Catholic. I don’t think that precludes me from having any insight into the Catholic church though. As a Protestant having sent two daughters through six years each of Catholic school, and engaged in a total of nine years worth of commensurate reading and discussions, I have learned more than the average non-Catholic typically knows about that religion.

That being said, I just don’t get the way the Catholic Church is handling sexual abuse committed by priests. Or rather failing to handle it. I just don’t get it.

I don’t get why the current Pope wouldn’t defrock a priest who committed repeated acts of sodomy on young boys. I don’t get his rationale. Call me confused; it seems to me that the abuse of a child mandates a millstone around the neck approach if anything does.

But I’m not a Catholic, so maybe there’s some mysterious intangible element to the priesthood that innately absolves them of responsibility for in-your-face repeated sins.

When I read stories like this in the Onion,

VATICAN CITY—Calling the behavior shameful, sinful, and much more frequent than the Vatican was comfortable with, Pope Benedict XVI vowed this week to bring the widespread pedophilia within the Roman Catholic Church down to a more manageable level.

Addressing thousands gathered at St. Peter’s Square on Easter Sunday, the pontiff offered his “most humble apologies” to abuse victims, and pledged to reduce the total number of molestations by 60 percent over the next five years.

and I see videos like this on YouTube,

I figure there is a clear reason this kind of satire is being directed at the Church, and it’s because the Church is failing to deal adequately with a profoundly disturbing problem. It seems to me that the Catholic Church has reached the point where Jonathan Swift would be saying, if you don’t want to deal with the problem of starvation in a rational manner, perhaps you ought to consider eating the babies. Or in this case, using “Priest Off.”

There simply is no excuse for this. It’s right up there with the historic abuses of the Catholic Church. At least when they sold indulgences, people weren’t literally getting screwed.

There are a number of deeply faithful Catholic bloggers out there, and I have been wondering what they made of this situation. How are they dealing with the abject failure of their leadership to protect children?

The Anchoress seems to be urging patience toward the Pope, while Mark Shea at Inside Catholic blames the media for creating a “feeding frenzy” upon the Pope.

Allison at Why I am Catholic reminds us that the Church needs prayer.

And Greg at the Deacon’s Bench points out that statistically priests probably don’t commit sexual abuse of children more than any other segment of the population.

I’m not a Catholic. I don’t have the same veneration for the Pope or any Church leader below him that a Catholic does. I don’t particularly blame him, nor do I absolve him; I figure every human being is responsible for their own sins. I do know though that this entire situation, including the way Catholics are responding to it, doesn’t make me want to become a Catholic.

If I was a Catholic, I’d be demanding action. After all, it is their Church.

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