Saturday, May 22, 2010

Books, glorious books!

With apologies to Oliver! lyricist, Lionel Bart, (and second only to food as to pleasures in life for those of us who aren't married) . . .

Books are among the most marvelous things on earth. If they are new, you can smell the volatile chemicals used in their making. You get to hear that crack in the spine the first time they are opened. If they are used, you can see the love in their usedness, the smells and stains, the little corner turns and pencil marks. You can feel the weight of them in your hands, judge the size and thickness (some are more pleasant to hold and read than others). You can leave your own pencil marks and tea stains, turned down corners and bookmarks.

Cicero said, "A room without books is as a body without a soul." Erasmus said, "When I get a little money, I buy books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes." Charles de Monesqiue never knew, "any trouble that an hour's reading didn't assuage." And Oscar Wilde so rightly observed that, "It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it. "

Mr. Guttenberg gave us one of the greatest gifts man can give. For which we Christians, sometimes known as "people of the book" are extraordinarily grateful. For two celebrations of books and reading, please go visit these two blog posts:

What are your bookends? , by Joe Carter at FirstThoughts blog

Sally Thomas's contribution , which is lovely and deserves a place of its own.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Tempest and Wonder

Tony Esolen at Bryan College Chapel

Innocence, not naivete. Bowing the knee in awe. What is there in Man to justify wonder? Why should we be mindful of man, without God?

The deepest wonder of all is not that we should pray to God, but that He should harken unto us.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I'm sorry I was late for work . . .

But I had to wait for the tortoise crossing the road. Honest. Well, almost. There was a bit of a traffic slow down at the big park I drive by on my way to work today. I was tempted to try to go around it, but the road is too narrow at that point to give passing a safe chance. So, I waited patiently and what should I see by the side of the road, just into the grass is one of these . Turns out, everyone was slowing down for a look see at the remarkable animal.

Strange looking thing.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In the interests of avoiding the formation of ethnic prejudices . . .

This is NOT what you look like after eating Lutefisk. Very few Norwegians have red hair.

ht: Baylyblog

Even Guttmacher recognizes the problem

As the 50th anniversary of commercially available OC (The Pill) has just passed us, there is lots and lots of information available, much more easy to find as folks are digging into The Pill's dark past. One of the less remarked-upon events in The Pill's timeline is the re-definition of pregnancy. This happened in 1965 in an ACOG "Terminology Bulletin" - an act of sheer hubris and Newspeak that would have made Orwell's Ministry of Truth blush - without pressure, discussion or any professional or scientific consensus. Previously, conception had been recognized as taking place at the moment of fertilization, when a single sperm enters the egg. The bulletin announced two new definitions:

  • FERTILIZATION is the union of spermatozoon and ovum.
  • CONCEPTION is the implantation of the fertilized ovum.
Now, decades later even ardent pro-life folks accept the new definitions and argue against a return to the former understanding. Arguments abound about the abortifacent result (or not) of The Pill's secondary effects. Evangelical leaders and others waffle on the possibilities of a silent death each month a woman is on OC. But even the Alan Guttmacher Institute recognized OC's abortifacent effects and worried about this and the efforts in some states to legally return to the previous understanding of conception and pregnancy. From their May 2005 issue of The Guttmacher Report, from the article, The Implications of Defining When a Woman Is Pregnant, here are some quotes:

Testifying about the potential impact of the legislation [then before the US Senate], George Ryan, then president of ACOG, said, "I believe that it is realistic to assume that the IUD and the low-dose oral contraceptive pills could be considered as abortifacents and therefor declared illegal."

Tom Coburn (R-OK) sought to "clarify" the discussion, by insisting that the measure would only affect IUDs and emergency contraception, but not any type of oral contraceptives, despite the clear statements by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that they [OC] also can act after fertilization to prevent implantation.

. . . Plan B, a year later, in a question-and-answer document developed in 2004, the FDA was explicit in describing the drug's method of action: "Plan B works like other birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. Plan B acts primarily to stopping the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). It may prevent the union of sperm and egg (fertilization). If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation)." In short, despite the confusion that opponents have fostered surrounding emergency contraception's mode of cation, how the method works depends more on when during a woman's monthly menstrual cycle it is taken (and, specifically, whether she has ovulated) than on when she had sexual intercourse.

And, in an inset to the article, quoting the ACOG:

Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive drugs and devices act to prevent pregnancy in one or more of three major ways: by suppressing ovulation, by preventing fertilization of and egg by a sperm or by inhibiting implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterine lining. Male and female condoms always act by preventing fertilization: however, the mode of action of any hormonal method may vary not only from woman to woman, but also for an individual woman from month to month, depending on the timing of intercourse in relation to ovulation.

. . .As with other hormonal contraceptives, there is no single mechanism of action for emergency contraception.

Pregnancy here is the Newspeak definition - after the completion of implantation.

Funny thing about language, though. The word, abortifacent simply won't go away.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Flannery quote, just because

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.

The Pill - a Timeline

A Timeline of contraception, the Pill and related events:

  • 1839, Charles Goodyear "vulcanizes" rubber and uses the process to make condoms and "womb veils" (diaphragms)
  • 1873, Congress passes the Comstock Law, an anti-obscenity act aimed at contraceptive devices and information, outlaw dissemination of them by the postal service or inter-state commerce
  • 1879, Maggie Louise Higgins (later known as Margaret Sanger) is born
  • 1906, The FDA is established to protect consumers from medical quackery
  • 1914, Margaret Sanger coins the term, "birth control"
  • 1916, Sanger opens the first birth control clinic in the country
  • 1920, 19th amendment is ratified, given women the vote
  • 1921, Sanger establishes the American Birth Control League, later to be known as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  • 1930, The Lambeth Conference makes the Anglican communion the first Protestant church to approve the use of birth control
  • 1930, Pope Pius XI issues Casti Canubi, an encyclical declaring birth control to be a sin
  • 1936, Sanger orchestrates a legal battle over a shipment of Japanese diaphragms, which leads to the AMA officially recognizing birth control as part of a doctor's medical practice
  • 1941, Chemistry professor Russell Marker synthesizes progesterone from Mexican wild yams which makes progesterone production affordable and will become the basis for hormonal birth control.
  • 1951, the Planned Parenthood Federation of American now runs 200 birth control clinics but Sanger is still seeking her "magic pill".
  • 1956, the first large-scale clinical trials of the birth control pill start in Puerto Rico. The medical doctors in charge of the trial report 100% prevention of pregnancy but too many side effects for the pill to be generally accepted. The clinical trials are pushed forward anyway, despite the deaths of three women taking the pills.
  • May 1960, Enovid becomes the first birth control pill to receive FDA approval
  • 1965, the ACOG redefines conception and the beginning of pregnancy in a "terminology bulletin" without scientific discussion or consensus. The new definition defines fertilization as the union of egg and sperm while "conception" now refers to the implantation of the fertilized ovum.
  • 1965, SCOTUS decision in Griswold v. Connecticut finds a "right to privacy" in the US Constitution, hidden among the "penumbras" and "emanations" of the Bill of Rights. The law which was struck down prohibited the sale and use of contraceptives for married couples
  • 1968, Pope Paul VI issues the encyclical, Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life)
  • 1972, Eisenstadt v. Baird struck down a law preventing the sale of contraceptives to unmarried individuals
  • 1973, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, twin decisions by SCOTUS found that the right to abortion was a fundamental right for a woman's "life and future"
  • 1992, FDA approves Dep-Provera, a hormone injection use to prevent pregnancy
  • 2000, FDA approves RU-486 (mifepristone) which, when taken in conjunction with prostaglandin, induces an abortion in the first seven weeks of pregnancy
  • 2001, Ortho-Evra, the first birth control patch, is released
  • 2006, FDA approves over-the-counter sales of Plan B, the "morning after pill" which prevents a newly conceived embryo from attaching to the uterine lining. It is essentially a large dose of birth control pills taken at once

Saturday, May 8, 2010

And then they came for me . . .

They came first for those not yet born,
and I didn't speak up because I had been born.

Then they came for the elderly,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't old.

Then they came for the disabled,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't disabled.

And then they came for me.
and no one spoke up for me, there were none left.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Babies are here!

Here is a link to a review and trailer clip. The movie opens in theatres today.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

In Praise of Patriarchy

Last month, Rev. Dwight Longenecker, in his Inside Catholic column, In Praise of Patriarchy had this to say about Rev. Aidan Nichols' new book, Criticizing the Critics :

[In regard to the religious feminists who would like to scrap patriarchy as a temporary accommodation] Father Nichols stops them in their tracks with a trenchant argument. First of all, he reminds us that, if we believe in a revealed religion at all, it is revealed by God within the times and cultures of human history. In Galatians 4:4, St. Paul teaches, "In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son born of a woman." Locked within this short phrase is all the theology that unseats the feminists.

The first part of the phrase -- "In the fullness of time God sent forth" -- teaches us two things: First of all, that the Christian faith is revealed, not relative . . .The second thing this teaches us is that God reveals Himself "in the fullness of time." In other words, He reveals Himself when it is right and through the correct human circumstances -- including the circumstances of place and time and culture. To put it bluntly, God revealed His Son Jesus Christ into the world in the first century through the Jewish people, because that was the very best time and place and culture for His self-revelation to take place.

If this is true, then we cannot dismiss the cultural milieu into which Jesus Christ stepped onto the stage of human history . . .

This brings us to the second part of the phrase in Galatians: "God sent forth his son born of a woman." Locked within this simple phrase is the realization that God's self-revelation is inextricably bound up with His relationship to Jesus Christ as father to son -- and therefore bound up with the father-son relationship. Father Nichols explains that this must be so, because the revelation of the Father through the Son is not an arbitrary revelation. It is not chosen because He just happens to be speaking to a patriarchal people, but because the father-son relationship is the essence of God Himself. The self-revelation of the Father though the Son is exactly that: a revelation of God Himself at the most profound level.


I found this simple argument so profoundly affecting that I have already sent it around via email to a number of friends. I hope you found it encouraging and affecting as well. Please do read the entire article and get Aidan Nichols' book if you are able (unfortunately, it is not yet published in the US, only in the UK).

Femininity Regained

The Essence of a Woman's Vocation

The difference that sets women apart is that she imitates the Church, the Bride of Christ. As peculiar as this might seem at first glance, let us consider what the Church does. In supernatural ways, the Church welcomes new members, she cleanses them in the waters of Baptism, she feeds them at the Eucharistic feast, and she reconciles them in the confessional. She heals them with her anointing balm and finally lays each to rest in the hope if rising again. Throughout she consoles, sustains, and most importantly teaches each member in order that he might find his dignity and the meaning of his life.

What could be more feminine?

In a natural sense, this is where woman finds her dignity and meaning. It is not a strict formula or a straight-jacket. On the contrary, she takes these elements, combines them with her talents and her circumstances in life, and forges a path unique and charged with beauty. With these elements as guides, she will ponder her vocation and discover what God wishes her to do that is squarely in the folds of the Mystical Body of Christ, and yet unrepeatable and life-giving to all who are touched by her influence.

We live in an incarnational world. This means that deigned to visit us by sending His Son, and that his presence in the family of Nazareth, in the world, transformed all families an all of the world. A cup of water in His Name becomes a channel of immeasurable grace and the acceptance of suffering in union with His suffering is a path to heaven. We cannot ignore the little things as insignificant, nor can we rely on the accolades of the secular world as a criterion for eternal good.

. . .Attend to the littlest details with affection and live your life as a model of the Church. With love and docility, ask Christ to mold your heart into the heart of bride, a Bride fit for His service and then take on the world -- in your own feminine way -- for the glory of His name and the sake of souls!

-- Genevieve Kineke, The Lost Essence of Femininity

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Playing footsie with our adversaries

I once observed, in an allusion to a more famous saying, that one cannot play footsie with the religious feminists and hope to retain all of one's toes. There is good reason for that, because one finds at the heart of religious feminism the seductive lies of heresy. Let's face it, we've all know the charm, the pull, the glamour of heresy. Evil is attractive, it is alluring or one would never fall for it. It is the sugary coating on the cyanide pill. Just enough truth to make it look right to the unsuspecting and even those who think themselves too knowing to be taken in, too expert to fall for the deception. But this is how evil extends its reign, by those who think they can cooperate with it and control it.

Here I use the term, glamour in its older sense. The word formerly referred to a magic charm effecting the eye, making something appear different from what it really is. Glamour is more than mere style and apparently effortless grace. The aptly named Grace Kelly was the epitome of this meaning of the term. Though glamour is always about illusion, in the sense I am using it, it appeals to a much deeper deception. In this deeper sense, glamour steers a middle course between transparency and opacity, it is translucent, inviting in just enough light to seem familiar and engage the subject's imagination. (1) Evil must operate in this manner because it is derivative. It cannot create anything de novo.

This is how religious feminism, under the cover of Evangelical engagement, operates. It derives its power of persuasion, in large part, from the complicity of Complementarians who think they can, as I have observed, play footsie with the religious feminists and yet retain all their toes. They are able to let just enough light in to appear orthodox, even in a minimally Evangelical sense. The religious feminists have an odd way of combining the sort of logic Chesterton would have called morbid with facile, nonsequiturish responses. But these self-styled Egalitarians are heretics, they are presenting us with a pretty sugar-coated vision of equality of how men and women can live in perfect peace and harmony if we'd just forget about all that headship folderol. If we'd just forget about the universal witness of orthodox Christianity through nearly two millennia, then we could see how good and right they are. But once that pill is swallowed . . .

Now I must be a bit personal. I have succumbed to the illusion of control over the evil as well. I have been supremely guilty of thinking I can engage those folks and not come away missing a toe or two. In my case it is particularly dangerous, having something of the whiff of Lot's wife casting her eyes back to Sodom as a wise friend recently suggested (and risked my ire by doing so, God bless him for his courage to confront me). The problem is, I know the taste of the cyanide under that sugary coating and yet, having been rescued from its death-grip, I was guilty of thinking I could engage it and thereby rescue others.

It wasn't until two things happened that I realized the danger, though I must admit I had been warned before. First, that same dear friend is the one who first put that old concept of glamour before me. I started doing a little internet digging and boy oh boy, did I get a great whack to the back of the head.

But second, I also came to recognize how my own rescue was effected. When I was at my most annoying religious feminist worst, it wasn't orthodox men who came over to the religious feminist sites I inhabited and engaged me there (although a few made occasional forays to those places). It was when I stepped onto Christ's turf - when I engaged those who were teaching orthodox sexuality on their own turf that my rescue began. One of those dear brothers recognized something in me I would have denied and, along with one or two others, began praying for my rescue.

And, for that, I will be eternally grateful.

The Hermeneutics of Hate

Dear Readers,

You will forgive me if, while reading this most excellent reflection by my friend Anthony Esolen, I couldn't help making mental reference to religious feminists.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Editing foolish words

A word of explanation is in order - as a result of a recent email exchange with some friends, I am in the process of removing certain links from this blog. The blog traffic indicates to me that the links are not serving any good purpose and are possibly in service of prurient interests.

Please forgive me if I have enabled, through those links, any inclination to dwell on perverse theologies and lies.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Thank you and, I'm sorry about this

Thank you to all the new folks who are stopping by! It's nice to see a few new readers, and I hope ya'll know you are welcome to stay longer than some of you do (hint).

Also, I've had a couple of comments lately that I've gone ahead and deleted because they were unreadable. Unfortunately, I'm not set up to take comments using other alphabets such as Cyrillic, etc.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Experimenting in the Kitchen

I've already mentioned my new favorite cookbook, The Flavor Bible. Two weekends ago, at a shower, our hostess's son was doing some last minute prep (he's a chef, I think) and we got to talking about what an indispensable tool it is for those willing to experiment.

And today, I got it out of the cupboard and did some experimenting again. I didn't take any great chances today - but it is fun when you just grab something because you've never cooked it before and it happens to go with something else you were buying, and . . .

Tonight it was Tofu and Baby Bok Choy stir fry with a light sauce of Rice Vinegar, Toasted Sesame oil and Garlic. It turned out rather nicely, though next time I think I would marinate the Tofu.

Also tonight, the first part of homemade pita bread from The Bread Bible . The recipe says it is best if you let it rise overnight, so I am developing some patience and will wait until tomorrow to bake the pitas.

Some Basmati rice is cooking in the steamer and later on, I am going to bake some Almond Polenta Pound Cake in the mini-muffin pans, crowning each one with a Blackberry (no, the edible kind). Another one of those serendipitous things -- I bought the blackberries because they were on sale and come to find out, they go with . . .

Right now, however, I am enjoying the last sips from a glass of wine - the bottle tells me it goes well with (among other things), Asian dishes.

And that it does.