Saturday, October 23, 2004

An well written endorsement of President Bush

A full page ad in the Washington Post: You're a Republican??

Now the election is getting nasty. The Guardian, a newspaper in England, has started wishing fondly for past presidential assassins:

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?

I sent a note to the Guardian at reader@observer.co.uk as follows:
Indeed, I too will be praying, too, but for the reporters and editors of the Guardian. How Christian of you to seek the death the President of the United States. How funny, how really funny. I'm sure all your editors and Mr. Brooker are still laughing over the deaths of Lincoln and Kennedy and the shooting of Ronald Reagan.

Perhaps Mr. Brooker can next hope Mr. and Mrs. Blair go speeding through the Paris tunnels.

You see, if Mr. Brooker would have called for the death of his own Prime Minister, the English public would have rose up in horror against him... but where will they be for us?

Friday, October 22, 2004

From the 2nd Alan Keyes Barack Obama debate yesterday:

HERNANDEZ-GOMEZ: Ambassador Keyes, you're a Roman Catholic who often touts your pro-life position as an opponent of abortion. You've also said there are certain circumstances in which the death penalty is essential. But the Pope has said, "The dignity of human life must never be taken." The Pope also says that the death penalty is both cruel and unnecessary.

Doesn't that mean you're not completely pro-life? How does your support of capital punishment, and opposition to abortion, conflict with your Roman Catholic faith?

KEYES: It doesn't conflict at all. As a matter of fact, everything that has come from the Pope and the Holy See has made it clear that abortion and capital punishment are at different levels of moral concern.

Abortion is intrinsically, objectively, wrong and sinful, whereas capital punishment is a matter of prudential judgment which is not, in and of itself, a violation of moral right. And that has been made clear in every pronouncement, including Cardinal Ratzinger's latest communication, including the interpretation of American bishops and cardinals. That distinction is fundamental. And it's one that folks in the media, and others, seem not to understand.

There are certain issues that objectively violate the most fundamental canons of moral decency, and abortion, for instance, is one of them--the taking of innocent life.

The question of whether or not you should apply capital punishment, in an instance where someone has been found to be guilty, is something that depends on circumstances, that depends on judgments about efficacy and balancing the results against what is, in fact, to be effected in capital punishment. And that is an area where Catholics, as others, have the right to debate, to disagree, and to exercise their judgment and common sense, which of course is what I do.

But if you take a position that effaces the distinction between innocent life and guilty life, then you not only violate a moral canon--you destroy the fundamental basis of the law, and that is the ultimate disrespect for human life.

MAGERS: Mr. Obama. A minute and a half.

OBAMA: Well, I believe that the death penalty is appropriate in certain circumstances. There are extraordinarily heinous crimes--terrorism, the harm of children--in which it may be appropriate. Obviously, we've had some problems in this state in the application of the death penalty, and that's why a moratorium was put in place, and that's why I was so proud to be one of the leaders in making sure that we overhauled a death penalty system that was broken. For example, passing the first in the nation, videotaping of interrogations and confessions in capital cases.

We have to have this ultimate sanction for certain circumstances in which the entire community says, "This is beyond the pale." And I think it's important that we preserve that. But I also think that it's gotta be fair and uniformly applied, and that's something that has not always happened in this state, and I'm glad that we've made some improvements on this score.

Now, I agree with, actually, Mr. Keyes that the issue of abortion and the death penalty are separate questions. It's unfortunate that, I think, whereas, with respect to the death penalty, Mr. Keyes respects the possibility that other people may have a differing point of view, that in this area, he has labeled them everything from "terrorists," to people promoting a "slaveholder position," to suggesting that they are consistent with Nazism.

I think that kind of rhetoric, obviously, is not particularly helpful in us resolving what are very difficult and emotional subjects.

MAGERS: Mr. Keyes, thirty seconds.

KEYES: Well, it's obvious that Senator Obama has read the newspapers too much.

In point of fact, I don't call people names. I make arguments.

And in point of fact, it is the slaveholders' position. The slaveholders took the view that black people were not developed enough to be treated as human beings, and therefore, could be bought and sold like animals.

People looking at the babe in the womb take the view that that child is not developed enough to be treated as a human being, and therefore can be killed at will.

I think that's the same position, in principle, and it violates the fundamental principle of our way of life--that we are not developed nor born, but created equal, and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights.

I supported Alan Keyes for President last time around and sent him a bit of money. He has a haunting ability to cut through to the bottom line when he speaks. He paints, at times, with too large a brush, but I nonetheless admire the artwork.

Just because my interest is piqued.

The current method of cloning a mammal is to take an egg, remove its nucleus and insert the nucleus of a cell from another part of the body. Add chemicals and it starts dividing like a normal embryo. It generally takes about 275 tries for every success, and even then success is sometimes fleeting. Primates have never successfully been cloned and a leap in technology would be needed to make that happen, which is the focus of many scientists.

Notice, however, that scientists start with the egg, which is impossible for man to create from scratch. Notice they implant that egg into a mother to continue, since man is unable to replicate the environment of the womb.

Aside from moral questions, think of the science fiction stories that revolve around scientists fiddling with alien technology they know nothing about. Even easier, think of a three year old playing with a loaded gun.

All 191 member nations of the United Nations have come out against human reproductive cloning. But only 50 of those nations (including the United States) have called for a total ban on human cloning which would include thereputic cloning.

All 191 UN member nations have come out against reproductive cloning thatcould be used to make human beings, but many support so-called therapeutic cloning for research into debilitating diseases and spinal cord injuries.

The United States and Costa Rica have been joined by more than 50 nations, mostly Catholic or developing countries, in sponsoring a resolution calling for a total ban.

Their resolution calls cloning "unethical, morally reproachable and contrary to due respect" for human beings.

I was thinking about this quite a bit last night after reading Instapundit (Glenn Reynolds) who is for all types of human cloning. Reynolds supports human reproductive cloning despite the moral questions of every country in the world. Questions for Glenn:

1. If a gifted person is cloned (like an athelete or an artist), would it be moral to recreate the environment for the clone that resulted in the original person's success? In other words, if you copy Tiger Woods, would it be right to push golf on the clone his entire life?

2. Would it be moral for a poor family to purchase the needed cells to clone an NBA star? Or, perhaps more reasonably, would it be moral for wealthy alumni to get women to host clones of the 1993 Chicago Bulls in return for money and free tuition to their alma mater.

3. Would it be moral to clone a talented person who suffered from a debilitating disease? Would it be moral to clone Stephen Hawking? Mary Tyler Moore? Lou Gehrig?

4. Would it be moral for parents to clone several copies of a child over time for use in an ongoing sitcom on television, so that the child would appear not to age over the course of the show?

5. Would it be moral to clone a person after death who didn't give permission for a copy to be made? Ted Williams, for example... or perhaps Albert Einstein.

It seems these questions could go on forever. For an in-depth analysis and hours of interesting reading, look into "The President's Council on Bioethics report on Human Cloning."

Example from the report:

With such possible benefits in view, what reasons could we have for saying "no" to cloning-for-biomedical-research? Why not leave this possible avenue of medical progress open? Why not put the cup to our lips? In The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare has Leontes, King of Silicia, explain why one might not.

There may be in the cup
A spider steep'd, and one may drink, depart,
And yet partake no venom, for his knowledge
Is not infected; but if one present
The abhorr'd ingredient to his eye, make known
How he hath drunk, he cracks his gorge, his sides
With violent hefts. I have drunk, and seen the spider.

To discern the spider in the cup is to see the moral reality of cloning-for-biomedical-research differently. It is to move beyond questions of immediately evident benefits or harms alone toward deeper questions about what an ongoing program of cloning-for-biomedical-research would mean.
How can you not love a scientific, presidential report that quotes "Winter's Tale."

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Bill Cosby gave a tough talk to a school in Milwaukee yesterday. I think I'll memorize some of the lines and use them on my own kids.

"We are letting TV sets raise our children," he said. "A transformation has to take place.

"We are not going to get Jesse Jackson to keep coming up here or Martin Luther King Jr. to reappear. They've done their jobs. They gave you slogans you can use. They've prayed for you. Now you have to do it for yourselves."

He scolded them.

"I talked to Jesus the other day, and He said He's tired of you," Cosby said. "There is a book out there called the Bible. It's got lessons in there on how to live. Ten Commandments. They make a lot of sense, but you've thrown all of it out."

The other day, my kindergartner, my only Catholic School child, and I were watching Boomerang, which is a channel that shows old, old comics (like those I grew up with). In one comic, a little girl and her dog were playing hooky from school and a truant officer was chasing her. I had to explain so much about the comic... what is hooky? What is a truant officer? etc. And then the killer: Why wouldn't she want to go to school, you learn about God in school, why wouldn't she want to learn about God?

My goodness... I certainly never had a school conversation like that with my other kids. I told her that some schools teach about God and others don't and how some people have different ideas of God and how to learn about him.

Thankfully, she never understood, I'm a poor teacher. On Wednesday morning she had Rosary, as she does every Wednesday morning. She enters the church, a tiny child, hardly taller than the pews, and walks silently to dip her finger in the font and cross herself. She genuflects, pulls out the kneeler, steeples her fingers and prays, the crucified Christ hangs in the light above her in the silence.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

John Kerry has been saying that he is personally opposed to abortion and believes that life begins at conception. But, he says, he can not legislate his own faith and impose it upon the nation. John Kerry also says that God makes all things and that we, as Christians, need to be good stewards of the earth. Kerry also says that it's part of his Christian faith to care for the poor. May I ask, then, why John Kerry feels he is justified in legislating his Christian stewardship of the planet with environmental laws? May I ask, then, why John Kerry feels he is justified in legislating the USA out of poverty? Why is it that he only feels justified in legislating his faith when it conforms with his Democratic base? Said another way, why is it only wrong to legislate his faith when it goes against his party's platform? He somehow claims that his environmental laws and tax laws and health care laws are informed by his faith but do not transfer that faith. If your faith leads you to preventing snowmobiles from being used in national parks, how is that not transfering your faith upon the people who want to use snowmobiles in national parks? If your faith leads you to legislate providing health care to the poor through taxes on the rich, how is that not transfering your faith upon those who don't believe that's a good idea? In the end, isn't it a weak belief that doesn't want to be shared?

Excerpt from the third debate:

SCHIEFFER: Senator Kerry, a new question for you.

The New York Times reports that some Catholic archbishops are telling their church members that it would be a sin to vote for a candidate like you because you support a woman's right to choose an abortion and unlimited stem-cell research.

What is your reaction to that?

KERRY: I respect their views. I completely respect their views. I am a Catholic. And I grew up learning how to respect those views. But I disagree with them, as do many.

I believe that I can't legislate or transfer to another American citizen my article of faith. What is an article of faith for me is not something that I can legislate on somebody who doesn't share that article of faith.

I believe that choice is a woman's choice. It's between a woman, God and her doctor. And that's why I support that.

Now, I will not allow somebody to come in and change Roe v. Wade.

The president has never said whether or not he would do that. But we know from the people he's tried to appoint to the court he wants to.

I will not. I will defend the right of Roe v. Wade.

Now, with respect to religion, you know, as I said, I grew up a Catholic. I was an altar boy. I know that throughout my life this has made a difference to me.

And as President Kennedy said when he ran for president, he said, "I'm not running to be a Catholic president. I'm running to be a president who happens to be Catholic. "

My faith affects everything that I do, in truth. There's a great passage of the Bible that says, "What does it mean, my brother, to say you have faith if there are no deeds? Faith without works is dead. "

And I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring it in any official way to other people.

That's why I fight against poverty. That's why I fight to clean up the environment and protect this earth.

That's why I fight for equality and justice. All of those things come out of that fundamental teaching and belief of faith.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I had heard about this teenager in Seattle who was found in her wrecked car after 8 days, still alive, but I didn't hear "The Rest of the Story" which is really a rather amazing intervention of God into the world.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Why I support George Bush and not John Kerry

I have three reasons for supporting President Bush for President over John Kerry: 1) Immigration, 2) Judges and 3) A Strong Military.

Immigration. In the 2000 election, the memory of Elian Gonzalez screaming in fright in the face of a trooper with an automatic rifle was fresh in my mind. "Is this the way we handle child custody cases in America," I thought? Do we storm into residences and tear gas the defendants and their lawyers while legal proceedings are ongoing? I believed then, and continue to believe now, that President Bush brings an important aspect to the leadership of our country: his relationship with Mexico and Hispanic Americans. President Bush and his extended family, especially Jeb, provide a welcoming, friendly, understanding face to the millions of immigrants coming to America. This relationship will flower further after the intensity of the war and the election fade. Without these immigrants, most of whom are hard working, conservative Catholics, our national population would be dropping just as European and Japanese populations are dropping. On the other hand, a Northeastern liberal who defies the Pope and relies on class warfare for votes, will only yield further cultural nightmares for America.

Judges. I remain shocked that several Supreme Court Justices did not retire during President Bush's first term. Much of overwhelming effort Republicans put forth to win that 2000 election fight was due to the knowledge that Al Gore would have appointed judges who believe there is no place for religion in the public square. Hopefully, soon after President Bush wins in 2004, some Justices will move to retire. I am not one who believes that Roe v. Wade will be overturned by the Supreme Court if only we get the "Right" kind of judges, but I am one who believes that President Bush will not appoint judges who will push God into the closet. I am more concerned about rulings like the Pledge of allegiance, the L.A. County Seal (which the ACLU says must have the crosses removed), the removal of all hints of religion from the public schools, etc. We have to appoint more judges in America who are not anti-God. Weren't we founded on freedom of religion, not freedom from religion?

Military. George Bush is the overwhelming favorite of the Military. Why? Because he lets them do their job when this country is threatened and that's why they volunteered. Geoge Bush says he's going to do something and then he does it... this is a wonderful thing to be able to count on if you're a soldier. A soldier's life is often filled with "hurry up and wait" events; President Bush follows through. John Kerry, on the other hand, is probably the most controversial military figure ever to aspire to the presidency. What must the soldiers feel about his throwing his medals away, his discussions with the enemy in Paris during the Vietnam War, his three purple hearts without serious injury? What must the soldiers be thinking when John Kerry says one day he will pull troops out of Korea and the next day criticizes that same plan, when he one days says he will add more troops to the fight and the next says he will bring our soldiers home, when he one day says the war in Iraq must only end in victory and the next says the war in Iraq is a mistake and a diversion. What must our allies think when a President Kerry invites them to participate in a war he admits is a mistake, when he invites them to participate while belittling their current efforts... what would the world think of the United States (after our center of military power, the Pentagon, at the seat of our national government, Washington D.C. was grievously attacked) if we turn away from the broader fight against the system that attacked us?

For these reasons, I support George W. Bush for President in 2004.

Kerry in Ohio.

Some Catholic Democratic officials arranged a private mass for the Massachusetts senator in Chillicothe, Ohio. Kerry called it a way to "stop the hurly-burly, get away from the wildness" and "have this moment of tranquility."

Father Lawrence Hummer, nevertheless, gave the moment an election-year flavor by criticizing church officials who condemn Catholic politicians who speak out for abortion rights, calling on them to use patient persistence and bring them into the fold.

"It is the task of the church to convince and to encourage through all patience, by word and example, those who do not agree, not to ostracize them or treat them like lepers," Hummer said.

"There are many people who think that the destruction of Iraqi life is as direct an assault on the sacred as is the taking of unborn life. There are many people who regard the death penalty as an admission of the smallness of our nature rather than evidence of our greatness."

"God bless you. Win, will you?" Hummer told Kerry after mass ended.
Question: Why does Father Hummer say "many think the destruction of Iraqi life is as bad as abortion?" in the context of speaking about John Kerry? Hasn't Kerry specifically said that he is against abortion? Doesn't John Kerry specifically say that Life begins at Conception? Does Father Hummer, like so many of us, see right through John Kerry to the core of his belief that abortion is no big deal? Does Father Hummer realize the conflict between saying "Life beings at Conception, I am personally against abortion" and Kerry's plan to harvest frozen embryos for scientific research? And what is the purpose of Father Hummer's statements about "many people believe" this or that? The Catholic Church is most certainly not a democracy...

Here is the Catechism chapter on "Respect for Human Life." We are learning the Catechism in RCIA and we are to accept its teaching, whether we agree or not, we accept and are bound by the laws of the church.

2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,"77 "by the very commission of the offense,"78 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.79 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

2267 Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."68

2304 Respect for and development of human life require peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war, and it is not limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is "the tranquillity of order."98 Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity.99

Well, click here to send a note to Father Hummer's Bishop. Click here to send a note to Father Hummer.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

At RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) tomorrow night. We're covering chapters 8 (The Church: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic) and 9 (Ecumenism: The Church and Other Religions). These were interesting chapters, going into Church history and talking about why different divisions started and the ongoing effort to return to One Christian Church. The book did say that Baptists are part of the Protestant faiths... I don't believe that is true, but there seems to be many opinions:

Baptist History, Then and Now

A Brief History of the Baptists

Interesting reading

Also interesting was this paragraph:

The Church also esteems the Moslems who worship the one and merciful God. Moslems do not acknowledge the divinity of Jesus Christ, but they do revere him as a great prophet, and they honor his mother, Mary. With Christians they await judgment day and resurrection, prize the moral life, and worship God through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. The Council recognizes that the history of Christians and Moslems has seen conflicts and hostilities, but the church now calls for cooperation. All are urged to forget the past and to strive sincerely for mutual understanding. The Council urges Moslems and Christians to work in common for social justice, moral values and the causes of peace and freedom.

Do Moslems, Christians and Jews believe in the same God?

Why do Jews and Muslims hate each other?

I find the kind of reading we're doing for RCIA to be a credit for the Catholic Church. The Catholic Catechism is a broad document that covers 2000 years of the Christian Faith and touches on nearly every aspect of the world and humanity. I realize this isn't everyone's cup of tea, this kind of history, psychology, political investigation. Some just want to belong and be part of the church without the long RCIA process. But I'm drawn to it.

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