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Writer's Block: A rose by any other name

Do you like your birth name? If you had the opportunity to change it, would you? What new name would you choose?

I have no problem with my first name, aside from in familiar contexts in which I prefer the nickname "Andy." For a long time when I was younger I had a problem with nicknames and only wanted to be addressed by my full name. It took me until college to become comfortable with "Andy," but I still don't like being called "Drew" and one problem I have with the name is that it's too susceptible to the creation of nicknames. If I had the chance I wouldn't change my name, although if I chose to change it I'd probably go with something less common because I'm not fond of the fact that I share my first name with so many people.

Strangely enough, my favorite male names are relatively common ones like James, Timothy, and Christopher. If I had a male son I'd probably give him one of these or something similar.
Some people need to get their priorities straight

I can understand if you think that Mother Teresa did more harm than good (although it's not true) or that she's not important enough to merit the honor (although that's also not true), but if you can honor the other people and groups mentioned then you should certainly honor her. Regardless of how you feel about Mother Teresa's actions, she certainly didn't kill as many people as did Communist China and her motives behind her actions were far purer. As for her relevance, if you consider Mariah Carey and some dog show to be relevant then she should certainly fit the bill. Perhaps they took a cue from Christopher Hitchens, who has worked hard to sully her memory in order to validate his horrible belief that nothing good can come from religion. Still, one has to wonder what sort of morality these people are embracing if they consider Chairman Mao to be worthier of praise than Mother Teresa.

Mother Teresa worked in squalid conditions with few resources and even less assistance. People bring up the huge donations that she was given, but even a million dollars is not much when spread between all of the sick and dying of Kolkata. She didn't have access to the highest quality of equipment and medicine that would have been available in the West, all the money that she was given wouldn't have been sufficient to buy enough of those supplies for everyone. For that reason, the goal of her work was more palliative than curative. Many of the people she served would have died regardless of what she did, particularly the ones with AIDS, as they couldn't stay with her forever and had no access to good food and clean water outside of her clinics. If the secular West wants to complain about her actions then it should put forward the billions of dollars necessary to create world-class hospitals and improve quality of life in India, instead of just sitting back and clicking their tongues at those who do the little that they can to allow people in an inhuman situation to die with dignity. Until they're willing to do this, they shouldn't condemn the woman who gave her whole life when nobody else even wanted to acknowledge the problem.
Reading this debate on illegal immigration from a religious worldview has brought up for me some thoughts about how as Americans our outlook on the issue is influenced by politics more than faith.

Cut for length, and for the sake of those who choose not to be involved in the conversationCollapse )
God bless this man, his victims, and all those who suffer through our vengance-based form of "justice."

It was thoroughly unnecessary to kill this man. Not only was he apparently repentant, thereby posing little if any threat to the community, but the jail in which he was incarcerated seemed to have no trouble separating him permanently from society. In a civilization that has such wonderfully built and guarded prisons as our own, there is simply no need to go to such extremes for the good of the population. If he had been allowed to live he would have continued repenting for his sins and presumably bringing his soul closer to God in anticipation of his natural death. As it is it would seem, if he was genuine in his repentance and conversion, that his soul is now with God although the process was somewhat shortened by its unnaturalness. If he is indeed with God now then he is at peace, which is a wonderful thing. The people I am most concerned about, and for whom I pray, are those who participated in the execution and the family members who worked to bring it about. Revenge is a very ugly emotion, and one that nobody should keep within their heart for such a long time. Forgiveness is very liberating, and while it can be difficult it is obviously something that we're called to do. I understand that the wounds created by this man's actions make it hard for the families to believe him when he asks forgiveness, but he had no reason to lie once he was on the table and his fate was sealed and besides it harms them none to grant such forgiveness even if it is requested insincerely.
We have here a new moment in time, a strange road marker on the journey that is our country's history. For the first time in our history, Protestants will be completely absent from the Court. Even stranger, they've been replaced by members of the two religious groups that have the longest and most bitter history of discrimination in our nation. Just fifty years ago it might have seemed strange that our High Court, the part of our government most entrenched and therefore most protected against the will of the people, would be populated entirely by members of these two groups that had held the contempt and hatred of the majority for the previous two centuries and several more in the countries of our origin. Perhaps this should be a day of celebration for the members of these two groups, a day to celebrate their acceptance into a country that once viewed them with disdain. However...Collapse )

May. 7th, 2010

This is about freedom of sexual orientation about as much as Penthouse Forum is about women's liberation

Regardless of how you feel about teaching gay pride to high school students, pornography should definitely be out of the question. Would we put copies of Penthouse Forum or Playboy in high school libraries? At least Playboy has something other than pornography, in fact in the past it was known as a source of top-quality short fiction. Even if the one picture mentioned is the only pornographic thing in the book, even that is too much. Obviously the creator of that picture was trying to send a message, ridiculing the Boy Scouts by portraying the sexualization of two of their young members at the hands of two homosexual men. Last time I checked, exposing children to pornography is a crime even if it's done by their school's librarian. This book should have been taken from this school, and indeed from every school, a long time ago, and certainly the only reason it wasn't was because the schools were afraid of being sued by GLAAD or some similar organization.

The school kept the other two books, of which I know nothing and therefore cannot give an opinion, but this one was certainly outside of what could be considered appropriate by anyone other than an ideologue for the gay cause. Even if you think that children should be exposed to the idea of homosexuality as a proper lifestyle, it's obviously just as wrong to expose them to gay porn as it would be to have copies of Playboy to be checked out by students. One of the people who objected to the ruling brought up Catcher in the Rye as an example of a book considered obscene in its time, but as far as I know that book isn't illustrated with pictures of graphic sex or children being exposed to such images.
So much for "choice."

While I obviously don't think that every abortion supporter would do such a horrible thing, nor do I think that every abortion provider and referrer would condone such actions, there seems to be a thin line between "this is something that should be available" and "I think that certain people should be forced to do this, and I should be allowed to decide who" in some people's minds. Not only did they coerce a minor into killing her child, using the threat of losing custody of her other child, but they disregarded the authority of her guardian and actually took her across state lines (a crime last I heard) because they couldn't procure the abortion legally in her home state. The message that this sends is that the government can force you to kill your child, regardless of your "choice" or the choice of your parent or guardian. A government that can't even give a child Tylenol without a parent's permission and can't set a broken bone if a child's guardian is a Christian Scientist who doesn't believe in medical intervention can force that child to take a human life without so much as asking permission. How far is it from this to mandating abortions for certain people or in certain circumstances? Would it be any different if Obama's HHS Department decided that women who received WIC/TANF/Food Stamps had to abort any children that they conceived while on the program? What about just mandating abortions for any girl under 18 to eliminate the problem of teen pregnancy? If the government can just decide for a girl that she should have an abortion against the wishes of her guardian and without her uncoerced consent, how are any of the other things I mentioned outside of possibility? This case is a horror in and of itself, but the horrors that it could lead to are even worse.
I figured that I needed a place where I could post specifically about issues related to Catholicism and religion, and so to that end I just created a new blog at blogger. You can find it here. Hopefully it will fare better than my last blog there, the one that I had about DC rarely got updated and I got rid of it when I moved back to Jersey.

Smooth Criminal (Alien Ant Farm)

I know that you're tired of these things, but I'm bored so I'm posted it anyway.

Enter if you wishCollapse )


What the Church could learn from Toyota: Don't be the Church

Toyota did many of the same things that the Church is accused of doing. They knowingly covered up things that led to death and injury, and then launched a PR campaign after their crimes were discovered to make themselves look good. As far as I know their senior leadership hasn't been forced out and yet people act like they're doing good. The Church will never be "good" in our nation's eyes because of the anti-Catholicism we inherited from our English predecessors. They will always find a reason to hate us, even if we do everything perfectly from now on. The only unforgivable sin in our nation is being Catholic, nobody would recommend that teachers or doctors or police officers only have access to children with the presence of a chaperone, in spite of the fact that all these professions have a similar percentage of abusers among their number as the Church. Nobody would demand that the Secretary of Education resign immediately because a teacher in Massachusetts was accused of abuse and moved to California to teach again without his new school having knowledge of the crime. People are acting like the Pope is the Eye of Sauron, perched upon a high tower and having knowledge of actions taking place across the whole world. The reality is that he is one man with a limited scope of sight and therefore highly dependent upon news given to him by others. The media wants to have it both ways: to believe that the Pope is both a humble man unworthy of respect and a super-human with almost God-like omniscience. The truth is that he is just a man, worthy of respect but no more than is appropriate for a man.

I pray for our Church, because as has happened before the world has used the Judas Iscariots among us to persecute Christ and His followers. The sin is on the priests who have abused and the ones who have enabled, and they will be judged much more harshly by the Eternal Judge than they ever could be by the temporal Church. That being said, the Jewish and Roman authorities also brought guilt upon themselves by exploiting Judas' sin for their own evil objective and the media does the same now by using these sinful priests to destroy those who believe in Christ. Abusers destroyed the bodies and souls of many through their sins, but the media also destroys souls by using these sinful men in an attempt to undo the faith of many and drive them toward atheism and despair. As it says in Scripture, it would be better for all of them were they to be tied to a heavy stone and thrown into the sea because God's judgment will be far worse for them.