Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Irish Tradition Has It

A girl gets to propose to a guy on Leap Year-Today.




on the Persecuted Pastor in Iran- maybe.

Thumb rules for voting; The Catholics in Alliance voter guide.

“Charity is at the heart of the Church's social doctrine. Every responsibility and every commitment spelt out by that doctrine is derived from charity which, according to the teaching of Jesus, is the synthesis of the entire Law (cf. Mt 22:36- 40…For the Church, instructed by the Gospel, charity is everything because, as Saint John teaches (cf. 1 Jn 4:8, 16) and as I recalled in my first Encyclical Letter, “God is love” (Deus Caritas Est): everything has its origin in God's love, everything is shaped by it, everything is directed towards it. Love is God's greatest gift to humanity, it is his promise and our hope.).”-Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, #2.

... the other catholic voting guide.

The Third Way

Could Happen

There is more than a little serious talk about a third party now to shake up the mix.

Neither party is seemingly grabbing the gut of the country and the choices aren't enough for some people.
On the one hand, the democratic party is so in bed with the billion dollar industry called Planned Parenthood no criticism is tolerated of the free abortion mess and insane amounts of money are thrown their way while we battle an uncontrollable deficit. Like there's not more worthy things to spend money on.

On the other hand the republican culture war issues eclipse whatever economic and trade policy sense might have existed to an absurdist reductionist level that insults the intelligence of most people.

Santorum's rant that 'whenever we ran a moderate we lost' propels him to absurd fringes of
extremist statements playing to the lowest uncommon denominator. Gingrich searches for
clever ways to express the disaffected alienation of the old guard, and Romney thinks even if money can't buy him love it can rent him the White House for a few years.

The tumble toward the extremes makes a moderate middle something many Americans would find refreshing and a welcome reprise from the food fight.

It's already started

He likes firing people, and locking them up.

Remember Mrs. Lady McRomney telling the world she is going to start inviting and not inviting press- well, someone authorizes now locking up the ones they don't like. A reporter with the Economist was escorted out in handcuffs for getting too close- just an ordinary reporter with The Economist. Too liberal for you Mittster? or Mrs. Mittster?

Excuse Me? I hope she sues the campaign for harassment.
What kind of police state do you think Mitt Romney will enforce as Mormon morality enforcer? Just sayin. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Republicans For Obama

The Republican contenders have even GOP governors praising Obama. Santorum in particular is driving republicans in droves over to the democratic camp on issues like education, as Santorum goes on a wierd rant against college trying to appeal to people who may feel put down by the fact they didn't get there. More people, I venture, wish their kids better than they had so are champions of higher education and just wish school loans were not so crippling. The country should be concerned with its global competitiveness which is enhanced when more of us are better educated. No one is interested in the dumbing down of America.

The church state "throw up" comments regarding JFK are just silly. Does he realize what kind of anti-catholicism existed during that era which made it impossible for him to be elected as a catholic unless he made a firm stance like this as people feared that the Pope of the day may
dictate policy to the Protestant country? The fact that he is running as a catholic owes a debt to JFK and to his church-state stance. He looks like an ingrate. The rant against the 'secular left' equally misplaced when Gingrich goes off on it. The safe religiously neutral space in public life does not shut out religious voices in the public square, it is a question of who gets to dictate policy. The Catholic church can be and has been as brutally arbitrary in exercise of power historically and in the service of power for the sake of power, and the Protestants who formed the country largely didn't want a repeat of the inquisition experience. Canon law has within it things like excommunications -and we don't take citizenship away from people for using contraceptives.

Church-State doctrine is something that judges and scholars and lawyers have debated and fine tuned for generations in this country- so for someone who is a lawyer to on a political rant
say something as mindless as JFKs speech and church-state separation stance makes him "throw up" is, as the Washington Post will say in today's paper, a disqualifier. Just dumb.

Romney is smarter than Santorum who keeps having to retract his foot in mouth proclamations. Romney's character however is more suspect than you want in a President. He just keeps saying things that are flatly not true. The latest is that 'Santorum never held a job in the private sector.' Yes, he did- what do you think a law firm is? Santorum worked for two.
As between the say anything even if you lie and know better guy, and the dumb or naiive guy who firmly loudly proclaims the unacceptable, Gingrich actually starts looking like a better deal.
And so you know you are in trouble.

If there were a brokered convention and anyone else wanted to get into the food fight- I would wonder where Libby Dole went.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Vatican Exhibit

New Interfaith Exhibit of Rare Jewish, Roman Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Artifacts Unites Faiths in Shared Love for God's Word

Take a walk through the history of the Bible in this private collection of rare biblical texts and objects of enormous importance. Setting a highly contextual, interactive format, this exhibit celebrates the dramatic story of the Catholic contribution of the most-banned, most-debated, best selling book of all time.

Una nuova mostra interreligiosa ed ecumenica di rari reperti e documenti cristiani ed ebraici, testimonia l'amore condiviso per la Parola di Dio

Esplorate la storia della Bibbia in questa collezione privata, che vanta testi rari biblici ed oggetti di enorme importanza, questa mostra celebra, attraverso un format altamente contestuale e interattivo, la straordinaria storia del contributo cattolico al più proibito, dibattuto e venduto libro di tutti i tempi.

Una nueva exposición interreligiosa y ecuménica de singulares antigüedades y documentos cristianos y judíos dan testimonio del amor compartido por la Palabra de Dios.

Exploren la historia de la Biblia a través de esta colección privada de textos bíblicos y objectos singulares de enorme importancia. Esta exposició n celebra, a través de un format altamente contextual e interactivo, la historia extraordinaria de la contribución católica al libro más prohibido, más discutido, más vendido de todos los tiempos.


Braccio di Carlo Magno
St. Peter's Square
March 1 - April 15, 2012

Mon., Tues. & Thur.-Sun.
Braccio di Carlo Magno

Plaza de San Pedro
1 Marzo - 15 Abril 2012

Lun, Mar y Jue - Dom
Braccio di Carlo Magno

Piazza San Pietro
1 Marzo - 15 Aprile 2012

Lun, Mar e Gio - Dom


Free Admission / Ingresso Libero / Entrada Libre


Saturday, February 25, 2012


The Angel and the Artist

There is a brilliant artist named Rafael Gallardo who has recently returned from Barcelona and is showing at the Q street Gallery this weekend. The Q street gallery is located in a townhouse at 2015 Q street, NW, in Dupont Circle.

Rafael has lived in San Diego, he featured showings at a Soho Gallery that no longer exists, and travels back and forth to Barcelona, his home. His art is bright and brilliant. An eclectic crew of art collectors, and amateur arists are gathering over a glass of red, with latin american music to take in the beauty of his creations.

Rafeal is a gem. An original. And you can see his original works.
Come one and all- now until 9:00 pm and tomorrow from 11:00 to 9:00.
(picture to the left is THE SAINT, sold to a New Yorker-come see the ones that didn't sell yet.)

The other Supremes

and the Pre-eminent SCOTUS blog

now teams up with Bloomberg Law to provide the best coverage on the Supreme Court around.
This article below features two upcoming articles on very important cases for Human Rights lawyers involving a Torture statute and the Alien Tort Statute (ATS)

Saint Matthew

Pray for Us

The first gospel is attributed to Saint Matthew. He's characterized, or one imagines, a slightly fraudulent money-grubbyish tax collector who jacked up the bill because he got a cut of the tax collections- turned repentant to follow Jesus and giving his whole full life to serve God. The Cathedral in the nation's capital is named after him- and he is considered the patron saint of good public servants. The spirit of the Lord is powerfully present there during lenten season and the lenten retreat this morning full of insights on what discipleship means. The gray haired nun put up a powerpoint study that ended with a slide quoting Saint John of the Cross - "In the Evening of Life, we will be judged by LOVE."
and the commandment to "Love one another as I have loved you" followed- so Jesus is the blueprint for how we do this. Matthew 25, the only account of the Judgment in the Bible, is something that breaks down the ways he did this- he fed the hungry (4-5,000), he visited the sick -(cured numerous people in scripture), he released the captives (sprung Paul and Peter from prisons even after his resurrection), he gave living water to the thirsty, etc. What he did in the three years of his ministry is a blueprint for how we are to live. And greater things even than this, you will be given power to do, he says.

In the evening of Life, we will be Judged by Love.
Saint John of the Cross.

So would Jesus think it loving to wage war against gays in homophobic rants against them being monogamously united in civil marriage with the same tax breaks? Would Jesus think some of the religous liberty justified insistence on not giving women what they think they need for their own health loving? I see Jesus healing lots of people in scripture. I see him nowhere on homophobic rants- in fact all his closest best working buddies were 12 guys, and one is constantly referred to as the 'one Jesus loved.' (John) The same people who want to claim that the 'one Jesus loved' was not Mary Magdalene but John the Apostle want to say Jesus authorizes this homophobic rant against gays part of the church is on? Really. Really?

Why does the "Catholic Standard" have to have more reporting on the political conservative hot button culture war issues like 'marriage matters' lobbying and legislative efforts to stop gay marriage (Maryland legislature approved same sex marriage and the catholic governor is expected to sign it into law immediately-the Catholic Standard is sending out 'breaking news' email panic alerts) and attempts to not cover any of the women working for the Archdiocese from reproductive health care and less (not at all) on things like Father Evelio's ministry to feed 50-100 homeless people every Monday and free bible study discussion class? Or anything that the Tepeyac Pregnancy Center is doing to give poor Latino young women homes and health care while pregnant and destitute, or Holy Trinity's homeless advocacy program and rotating shelter, or anything that Matthew 25 speaks to? I would like to see the Catholic Standard cover more about what the sister parishes are doing- like the Haiti mission parish twin to Holy Trinity, or the outreach mission sister parish Holy Trinity has in El Salvador and efforts to promote women's micro-enterprise. Why is the Catholic Standard and the Cardinal's letters consummed with Republican conservative culture war issues? Ask yourself- can you be more LOVING and less Judgmental and Doctrinaire? Is it loving to demonize political opponents and make martyrs out of your own faithful?

Everyone will be Judged. And it will be on one thing: LOVE, as manifest through the enumerated list of compassionate acts in Matthew 25. Love, with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.

The other looks petty and misses the mark.

In the evening of Life, we will be judged by LOVE.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Give me Liberty

or Contraception-- what's the difference?

There seems to be confusion over what is religious liberty and what is a policy accommodation in the eyes of the editors of the premier Jesuit magazine AMERICA.
The Association of Jesuit colleges have signed on to the health care accommodation- are they being too accommodating? The church is split again it seems and the Jesuits poised in contrast to the Bishop's conference on whether the accommodation is a ruse or not with wings or not.
The editorial argues that the religious liberty jargon devalues the currency of religious liberty when applied to finely tuned policy modifications on health care. What do you think?

Religious Liberty

Means more than Contraception in Iran

It means Life or Death to this persecuted Pastor in Iran who refuses to recant his Christianity.
Hello State Department.

Speaking of Justice

and the Rule of Law.
At the end of 2010 Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts decried the seriousness of the stonewalling of the Judicial nomination process (now by Republicans) to a point that it really is jeopardizing the administration of Justice in this country. It has profound affect in a number of areas and communities. It means untenable backlogs, among other difficulties and justice delayed is justice denied. It also means extreme hardship sometimes for plaintiffs lawyers to hang on that long and finance their lives on contingency.
So how are we doing so far with all the stonewalling ??
Thanks to the Alliance for Justice I got the statistics (and the cool graphic above-Grazie!)
There are still-- 103 federal judicial
86 in Federal district courts
17 in circuit courts
There have been 42 nominees
to the federal bench
33 for district courts
9 for circuit courts
20 awaiting Senate confirmation
(Data as of 2/23/2012,)
How hard would it be to get the confirmation done on 20 people? What are you waiting for and what else do you need?

Ashes to Ashes

It's Lent.

Every year at Lent they read the passage where you are not supposed to show you are fasting, but wash your face and go pray in your closet where your heavenly father sees you. And every year we get a huge smudge of dirty ash front square center in the middle of our foreheads. I like the way they do it at the Vatican- they drop ashes on top of your head- because you just read the passage that says wash your face and don't look like you are fasting!

It's a good time to revisit this Papal encyclical this Lent- on No Peace without Justice and no Justice without Forgiveness by John Paul II. It was written ten years ago (hard to believe) but no less true today.


The next virol video

Ten thousand Japanese voices sing Ode to Joy by Bethoven.

Conversion- biobugs


If you don't believe in global warming, then you don't believe in the necessity or power of conversion green technologies do you. Here's one for the Popemobile.

Isn't that Special

Remember the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live (you may be too young.) She was the epitome of old maidenish stuffy smug judgmental pompousness.
The cartoon is hilarious but more telling is the distinction it points to in philosophies regarding human sexuality. It is not an overgeneralization to hold that Conservative catholics and MLPs, Main Line Protestants hold different views regarding sexuality- the Catholic "Theology of the Body" view is that sexuality is sacred in marriage and defiled outside a monogamous lifetime marriage commitment and is the frame in which children should be brought in the world. Sexual action outside that context is not holy and can do psychological harm and endanger lasting marriage. The MLP view is more like, human sexuality is part of the inter-relational intimacy that expresses Love so where love is, it seals the deal more or less. MLPs don't view it just for procreation. Some don't any more view it just for marriage although no self respecting seminary would go that far.
All that is to say that a Catholic college is run by priests who take this stuff as seriously as their sacred vows. They hold seminars on the Theology of the Body. They believe that there is a resurrection of the Body- so what you do with it here on earth has serious, even eternal consequences. They believe
in some cases sex with the wrong person outside marriage is a sort of rape of the soul.
So to make them approve of or offer insurance that provides for contraception does run against their teaching and belief structure- to its core. They are about preserving virtue. Recently there was a court case challenging the decision of Catholic University to require separate sex dorm rooms on campus. Girls and Boys have to live apart unless they have married student housing. They believe is it wrong morally to be sexually intimate if you are not married.
That is why Cardinal Wuerl said on msnbc that the accommodation is like saying we won't give you or pay for the porn but we will refer you to the porn websites. No, they won't. Really, no -they won't. That is why you see guys in Roman collars saying they will go to jail before they ever will be made to do it. They are in the virtue promotion business. They guard chastity like Fort Knox. You cannot make them - they would rather rig an election to steal from you your office before you make them. They feel like a Father whose virgin daughter just brought home a sleazebag with ill designs who kicks him out of the house. They would rather kick Obama out of the White House.

Thursday, February 23, 2012



House Rules. Remember when you were a student and you wanted to go home with your boyfriend or girlfriend and your mother put you in two separate rooms even though she suspected you were a little more intimate when she wasn't around? That's because in her house, she gets to say-
its her house rules. If she doesn't want you messing around before some sparkly diamond demonstrates the commitment she thinks goes with self respect and respect of the partner, she gets to say where you sleep in her house. House Rules.

That's how you should look at catholic colleges doling out, or paying for anything having to do with insurance paying for contraception or giving college sanctioned approved insurance for contraception. They don't think you should be messing around before being officially married. Don't make them pay for your sins (as they view them.) Really don't make a federal case out of it.

What if in the above scenario the young man's brother came and bullied the mother and said- hey lady, my brother gets to do what he wants with your daughter and you don't get to say where they sleep even in your house and I can send you a bill to fine you if you don't let them sleep together.

Man, these analogies can get fun. Take it from there John Stewart.


Above- a video of the Georgetown Law Student who didn't get to testify to the Republican run committee speaks her peace at another event Pelosi, Holmes-Norton and two other Congresspeople set up just for her. Worth listening to in full.

They might rename the US Planned Pharmaland- because according to this - everyone should be on drugs and shame on the government or someone for not paying for all mine. Ridiculous. I went to Georgetown law school and I wouldn't in a million years expect that the school should approve paying for contraception or abortofascients when they don't even approve of sex outside of marriage.

Has it occurred to the law student that she has no constitutional right to sex? Where is that in the Constitution. Has she thought she really might defer a sexual life until marriage? The catholic institutions that they attend have values that include abstinence until marriage. Abstinence is a 100 percent contraceptive.
It is also statistically smart to wait for reasons of emotional, and financial stability and security.
Has she thought it possible to have a partner without sex unless committed to a point of marriage?
The policy of free contraceptions here does enforce the normalization of sex anytime you can get someone to do it with you anytime you want. I take the point of the Holiness people that this looks bizarre. There is totally a lack of sense of what is Holy. The people in the Holiness business have a right to not promote or pay for what they find morally objectionable.

Even if you agree with everything she said, it says nothing about the legitimacy of abortofascients or Plan B or Ella or any morning after drugs which are part of the package and -why??

Contraception prevents unwanted pregnancies so should be extracted from the argument about abortofascients or Plan B or morning after pills. Contraception can promote women's mental health. Abortion does something different. The public policy has to be different.

Seriously, how have we twisted the social norms to a place where men have convinced women that they have to be on drugs because they have to sleep with men who won't use condoms or
marry them? Why do women believe they have to for 20-30 years be on drugs? Contraceptions are drugs. They can have serious side effects- they can disrupt hormonal balances to such a degree that embolisms, aneurisms and strokes result Here is an NIH study indicating higher incidence of heart attacks (myocardial infarcation) in women who use birth control.

All women are not on drugs. All women don't want to be. All women between the ages of 15 and 55 should not be having sex all the time anyway instead of raising the stock prices of pharma companies who make this stuff.
Someone should look at the Pharma companies who make all the contraceptions and check out their political contributions profiles. They likely have massive lobbying efforts. Because the country should not all be on drugs. Someone needs some basic common sense slapped into themselves. No, you should not be having sex with your boyfriend if you are trying to focus on law school and not married. If you are not ready to start having a family stop playing house and go to class. Crazy.

Plan C

Now For Plan B

Washington state federal judge finds that the pharmacists who objected to supplying Plan B on moral grounds believing it abortofascient don't have to stock it- this opinion should be food for the fodder of the Supreme Court arguments on Obamacare- while the HuffPost might not be exactly legal reporting, this article points to a possible exemption for conscience on religious freedom grounds. Note to file- get the opinion and briefs.

Where the Dames?


The Catholic Information Center hosts now an ALL WOMEN panel on the healthcare debate. You have to love these guys. Really- they listen. I was happy to receive this email this morning
(yes, but will C-span be there?):

The Catholic Information Center and Altcatholicah
cordially invite you to join us at the CIC

Next Monday, February 27 at 6 PM

for a panel discussion on

Women Challenging the HHS Mandate

Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network,

Dr. Marie Anderson M.D., OB-GYN, from the Tepeyac Family Center,

Gloria Purvis, board member of the Northwest Center,

Maria Montserrat Alvarado from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty,

with Ashley McGuire, editor in chief of Altcatholicah, moderating.

On January 20, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services approved a mandate that will force Catholic institutions to provide contraception, sterilization procedures, and abortifacients in their health care plans, effectively forcing Catholic employers to violate their consciences and fund practices that are morally offensive.
On February 8, the Catholic Information Center hosted a panel discussion "Contesting the HHS Mandate." On February 10, President Obama announced a modification to the mandate in an attempt to accomodate religious liberty, by making the insurance company pay for contraception, sterilization procedures, and abortifacients in the health care plans of religious institutions. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops responded that the mandate remains problematic because it maintains that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services.

Since the continuing debate has been framed as a conflict between women's health and religion, the Catholic Information Center is pleased to join the Catholic women's web-magazine Altcatholicah in hosting this all-women panel to discuss continued challenges the HHS mandate poses for women and the Church.

This event is free and open to the public.

The Catholic Information Center
1501 K St. NW
Washington, DC 20005

The birds eye view

Then there is the down to earth view.

Sometimes policy is made in the abstract and doesn't look at all the real world on the ground contingencies and scenarious that it affects as deeply as might be useful. Some policy thinking is at a think tank level and others comes from an investigative perspective.
Some scenarious where the HHS mandate seems ridiculous, for example are-
The parish that has an elementary school attached (many do) where all the teachers are either priests or nuns or women past child bearing age in their mid to late 50s and 60s.
Some insurance company has to raise premium prices on the school because now it has to cover contraception? Kinda silly don't you think. Unnecessary cost burden-why? What about a Catholic bookstore that is staffed by aging celibate monks? Premium prices have to be raised because the policy has to cover birth control, and the morning after Plan B? Something about the cost shifting that happens with mandates doesn't seem really logical much less fair.
What about the local catholic pregnancy center staffed by people who believe vehemently in promoting child bearing rather than child nuking? The have to buy insurance with raised premiums that covers abortofascients and contraception?
The 'accommodation' does not really solve anything if the costs are passed on to the objecting institution. And the costs can not be born by the government- so where does that leave us? I don't have the answer yet but I am thinking. The 'accommodation' was a good try but it doesn't really answer the objection.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In Defense of


Once again I find myself disagreeing with Cynthia Tucker the journalist turned professor now in Georgia. I once worked with her mother, a Pennsylvania political character famous for wearing fun hats for about a month when she had a little lobbying outfit in the Watergate so find her intriguing- her mother use to tell me that she had a daughter named Cynthia so she took a liking to me.

Ms. Tucker is outraged that a state would require an ultrasound prior to an abortion, something that the Virginia legislature is now considering. Battling the
pro life guest on Chris Matthews' hardball Tucker argued the invasion principle.

But the pro life guest had a point and it is or should be this: if some doctor is going to insert his tools into your private area to extract piece by piece the living entity we call human inside you, you shouldn't be too upset with first having the opportunity to see what is inside you on informed consent grounds. Otherwise your choice isn't really an informed decision. It is likely to be a coerced one. It is far less invasive than the abortion procedure to undergo an ultrasound, even transvaginally. You thought abortions were not done transvaginally? Should the state be in the busineses of enforced ignorance where no one gets to see an ultrasound? You get to know what the x ray looks like when they take out a tooth, why don't you want to know what is growing inside you?

Me thinks she doth protest too much.
It is more of the same business of people defending the abortion industry- what could be wrong about being offered a chance to see what is growing inside you?

It should be national legislation. Transvaginal or not.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


and The Poor

"If we don't take care of the Poor we are going to hell" said Father Jim Greenfield summarizing Matthew 25. Indeed. That is the measure of a just society- how well we take care of the least of these, be they widows, orphans, homeless, limbless vets, the guy laid off who can't find a job or the masses of children who don't get three regular square meals a day.
"I am not concerned with the very poor" famously said Romney. "I like to fire people" he boasted. Why hasn't he been just totally disqualified?

It's Ash Wednesday tomorrow- which is a good time to see how well you are doing on the care for the Poor dimension.
To his credit Gingrich doesn't want people on foodstamps- yes, it has offensive racial overtones the way he calls Obama The Foodstamp President because the economic policies that created these conditions did not start with him and by the way more white people are on food stamps than blacks in this country. But he has a point that we need to take care of the people who can't eat because there are no jobs they qualify for and can do.

Now check out how well you love your neighbor if you can watch them go hungry and lose their housing.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Send God

A Text Message without the iPhone. It's called Prayer.

Happy Presidents Day

Barack Obama
and all his lovely family.
Today, lets all say a Prayer for the President.
Just as Father Evelio (an El Salvadoran emigre/ refugee turned Priest) did today before the homeless breakfast in the basement of Saint Matthews Cathedral this morning.


London Symphony Orchestra Conductor

Turns ordinary military housewives into a choir who sing a beautiful arrangement of their love letters to their on duty military husbands. Thanks uncle Bob for sharing.

These things

Don't go well together.

At the same Mass at the Cathedral there was yet a third in Mass or en Mass pitch for the Cardinal's appeal coupled with a mention of the bulletin insert Cardinal's letter on why the Cardinal does not want to cover any employees who wish or need birth control. This is not an effective fundraising point for lots of single women. It just tends to drive home that no women get to have the degrees from seminaries that allow them salaries like priests with benefits and so you are paying for men who don't want women to have things they might find essential. Like medicines to prevent uterine cancer while prostate cancer would probably get the funding necessary if found on a priest. The common popular opinion on this birth control issue (in which no attempt has been made to separate the abortofascients from the argument when birth control reduces abortions) is expressed by this skit- amusing.

Next time I recommend the pitch for the Cardinal's appeal not have stamped on it- 'none of this money will go to birth control for any of our employees whether they need or want it or not.' This
issue is highly controversial and the freedom of religion argument a constitutional one that will be decided by the courts. It is not a gimme. The balancing that goes on always happens when the administration has a right and obligation to protect the entire citizenry from known health hazards regardless of their religion. Whether the method is constitutional in employer mandates will be decided by the courts.

Social Media

In Turkey

A Turkish blogger talks about social media and internet literacy there (something to blow the tops off xenophobes) This is the text of his Rumi Forum panel presentation. Thanks again Emre and folks at Rumi for hosting such an informative panel.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The demonization

of Secularization.

The terminology prevalent to deride the slide to Gommorrah is wrong and not even particularly helpful to the good fight. Religious leaders on up to the Pope have remarked the loss of the foothood of traditional values as a Secularism and demonize secularization. If you hear the way they use this term you see how they equate it with an anti-christianity or anti-catholic vibe. This is an incorrect use of the term. The Pope is to be forgiven because English isn't his first language and there is probably a better translation of what he is thinking of- to reduce it all to Secularization is wrong.
Secular societies are ones that protect a common religious neutral space so no one religion gets to persecute any other, even if the one religion or people in it think others are head bangingly stupid or worse, dangerous. Secularization is the opposite of Sectarianism- or the controlling oppressive power of one religion over another. When i was in Northern Ireland I saw scrawled on the walls "Non Sectarianism" scrawled in graffitti on walls- because Sectarianism is where one sect or religous group oppresses another and in Northern Ireland that means the Protestants persecuting the catholics violently with vicious para vigilanteeism. Secularization means a protection for religious minorities. Secularization means protection of religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries where there is some civil space between the will of a tyrant and those who politically oppose him of another religion. In Turkey now for instance the Attaturk reforms were considered a move of Secularization away from Islamicization which meant a safe civil space for christians to operate in unpersecuted and westernization to take a firmer foothold than in other non-secular Islamic countries. So Secularization is considered a good thing in that context.
In a wierd assault on Islam during the Iraq war Americans waged a sort of crusade against the Muslim country not appreciating its secular nature notwithstanding the brutality of the tyrant. The Christian minority there was protected as a religious minority and while oppression was waged against opposing parties, it was not sectarian or religious persecution based- it was one party Baathists against opposing parties. Not Muslims against Christians. Now, with a more Islamicist state in Iraq, less secular, there have been terrible attacks against Christians and many church assaults.
In secular countries there can be more freedoms than under sectarian rule. There can be more intellectual freedom, freedom to dissent and free speech.
In the US, the constitution created a thoughtful deliberate secularization where no one religion gets to be so intricately tied to or wed to the state that there is a safe neutral civil space for all religions to operate. They put that non establishment clause as a first founding principle right along with the basic freedoms of speech and assembly and worship. Here, where there are 'liberal' reforms the tendancy of religious people is to decry this as an 'overly secularized society' stripped of the religious features of the majority religion-as this is a predominantly majority christian country historically. So legal battles wage concerning the rules of church-state separation and non establishment of religion in the public civil space. The term secularization does not mean that the society becomes less moral, it means that the overt religious to civil power bases are put at a distance from each other. Less moral is something else.
What the religious people are describing and I would argue misusing the term secularization about, is a general moral decline or lack of respect for religious roots of ethics. That is not secularization, that is something else and something more insidious. Secularization is not intrinsically hostile to morality. What is feared is an embrace of a counter ideology, which is the opposite of true secularization. That should be called something else, because secularization is religiously neutral. Confusing terms defeats what you are trying to do.
I apologize for calling anyone who does not get this point an ecclesiastical moron but the distinction is an important one to get for anyone defending our Constiution and at the same time embracing traditional morality. Secular societies protect religious minorities, sectarian ones do not, they oppress, sometimes violently the opposition. Secularization creates a neutrality where better angels can prevail in peace. Terminology can affect everything- and determine whether you win or lose.
The Prime Minister of Finland recently spoke at Brookings on why he preciously guards the secularization of his country in the face of mounting islam movements in Europe. In France they guard secularization and hail it as a virtue and this allows them to do things like regulate religious expressions of muslims in public places like schools in terms of banning muslim prayer openly on the streets.

Secularization is not intrinsically immoral and should not be equated with immorality. What is immoral is the overcommercialization of sexuality and sexual exploitation which in this country has jeopardized moral standards. That is not over secularization, that is overcommercialization of sexuality.
Public places and spaces are few. They are essentially schools and courthouses and public parks, military installations/bases and government buildings, where legal battles were raged and waged to neutralize them of any religious worshipping expression. Good or bad, that is creating a religiously neutral space so that in private life all religions may flourish. In the non public spaces such as the airwaves, television, media, everywhere that is not a courthouse, public school or park there is an overcommercialization of sexuality and decline of moral standards. No one can disagree with that.

It is important to get the distinction so the wrong people are not demonized.People creating public policy to create the religion neutral public space may or may not be religious themselves. Obama is a Christian. The Prime Minister of Finland is an athiest. The President of France is technically Jewish, born of a Jewish mother. The focus should be on addressing private morality where the evil lies, not in the good people of the government trying to make it safe for us all to live, work and play and worship as God calls or we will. That is why in part it is so offensive that religious people insist on waging war against a President who is trying to do what he swore to do in defending the Constitution for all Americans.

In this country we don't let the 'off with their heads' norm prevail for religious or political dissenters. We don't have political prisoners locked up like they do in Cuba or Iran or even Turkey that has about 500 critical journalists and bloggers locked up. We should not look to quash intellectual dissent but encourage it in the marketplace of ideas. We don't let dictatorial religious figures quash public debate. This country has as a result of its secularization protected by the Constitution more openly flourishing religious expression, more vigorous religious open debates, all which advance understanding and promote the common good.

Religions can practice privately shunnings, bannings, excommunications and efforts to quash dissent, but in the civil sphere we view open dialogue as promoting the efforts to securing the common good and honor free speech. The founding fathers wanted to leave the 'off with their heads' mentality back in Europe. We find public shunnings just rude.
No, Secularization is not the demon. The demons are the demons. Know who you are fighting or the battle is lost.

God Bless Your Soul Whitney Houston

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

thanks Fr. KR

New Evangelism

by a new Cardinal.
Dolan's full address here:


Kateri Tekewitha and Cardinal Dolan

The Pope has bestowed two great honors to New Yorkers. Dolan is now a Cardinal and Kateri Tekewitha will be canonized a saint.
I have always loved her story- not because of the rumored Sioux smidgeon in my ancestry but because she is one of those incorruptibles who was a spiritual heir of the French Jesuit martyrs in North America. Jesuits came here when America was barely colonized in the 17th Century to spread the gospel with the native american tribes and nations here. I went to Junior High school in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania next to the Saint Isaac Joques church so I always was intrigued by who this person was. Finally I got to visit the place in upstate New York where they and the Mowkawk Chief's daughter Kateri were from. Her story is worth reading about and I imagine lots more will be published concerning her life. As one of the incorruptibles God is said to have restored her small pox marked skin to that of perfection upon her death. The transformation was visible to everyone apparently. Her relics were venerated by the tribe which had ancestry worship and when the tribe split her remains were split in half so each part of the tribe could carry part of her with them. She has a large shrine in upstate New York and there are places of interest also in Quebec and up the Saint Lawrence where she sailed via canoe to live for a time with Ursuline sisters. She died at age 24 but miracles are attributed to her brief life. Pray for us little sister Kateri.


Same Sex Marriage Passed

Maryland House of Delegates, not the senate as reported below. The religious efforts are still full throttle to stop that happening.
Same Sex marriage is accepted by the Log Cabin Republicans who are largely gay, Former President Gerald Ford , Vice President Cheney, and a host of other republican high profile politicians now.

Newt Gingrich, who is marching on the 'its a war against catholics' thing and whose half sister is gay married person has not been glitter bombed to my knowledge.

Ever get the feeling?

Its more Rhetoric than Real?

That's how I feel when some clergy talk about Love. Because at the same time i get the distinct feeling that they only like the women who write big checks and the others are expendable- especially now that they threaten to cause a huge expense in a budgetary crisis. I get the feeling that in Bishopsworld it is mostly men, preferably well positioned ones, and kids that they can catechize and the rest of the population doesn't matter except they drive the kids to the schools that they fund and finance. I am actually surprised Sebellius hasn't been the subject of random death threats and excommunication threats given the vitriol that this has engendered.
The Catholic church is phenomenally wealthy. Phenominally. They have building fund accounts in the millions for projects. If anyone should be complaining about having to cover women's legitimate reproductive health issues, it shouldn't be the Catholic church. Legitimate health issues should be a number one priority for them- if for no other reason - then that you don't get the kids in the schools you run and finance unless you have the mothers with healthy reproductive systems who bear and nurture them. Love for Women is lacking in both rhetoric and the budgetary will. Where your treasure is, there your heart lies. What should one expect from people who work for an organization that insists that none of their clergy employees can have any wives. So when they say 'for the good of all the church' that must mean all of you except women?
Shall we say now For the Good of about Half the Church.

Strategery strategery

Remember him?

Bush's malapropisms were as infamous as his actual war strategies or strategeries in a moment we suspected he fell off his wagon or gord.
The messenger can be as important as the message sometimes.

Cheney, pretty much universally reviled by the left made a rare lobbying appearance to lobby for same sex marriage (he has a gay married daughter with a child) in Maryland and it passed the Senate. What trumps morality for family values republicans? Maybe a war mongering profiteering snarling bully with lots of connections in high places in the defense contracting industry in Maryland. You will vote to legitimate my grandchild and her lesbian parents or else. Here is where real war takes precedence over any culture war. He basically undermined the earnest efforts of at least two entire Archdioceses and evangelical pastors in the state to stop the trend across the country. And lots of those guys are republicans. I wonder who Cheney will vote for President this time if Santorum is the nominee and one of his signature issues is the repeal and roll back of same sex marriage everywhere.

In the wierd world of republican culture wars we see a lot nonsensical arguments.

The health care statute's mandates are being viewed as a sort of tax constitutionally and that argument they hope flies with the Supreme Court. If that is the analogy then the argument that
no one gets to withhold taxes because they don't like policies like war holds water. What the supreme court does with the upcoming case will determine a lot about what they think of any
universal contraceptive coverage.

The discussion from opponents is confused and falls into the trap of conflating all contraceptives with abortofascients- something that they have different moral objections to in different ways. The Pope himself has clearly clarified that condom use prevents AIDS and it is a higher good to use them if one is HIV positive or sleeping with someone HIV positive than to risk death of either person. The church can't morally object to drugs that treat various conditions promoting wellbeing that are also contraceptives. (Endometriosis affects 15-20 percent of women). What they seem to be objecting to is that they have to pay for it. In some cases sterilization also is not morally objectionable in for instance a case where a hysterectomy is the only solution to not dying of uterine cancer. Once again, what would be the objection to paying for non elective surgery like this? Why isn't the distinction being made between legitimate use of contraception and non elective life saving sterilization and elective use of same and a firm distinction between abortofascients. Why are they all being lumped in the same argument?
Is there just an objection to paying anything for insurance? Especially when one is self-insured?
It is possible that the conclusion reached by many of the faithful will be that the objection just arises more from a profound cheapness and disrespect for the health and wellbeing of women. Self Insured and we hope no one ever needs it. Contraception is more threatening to a budget because if someone is on it, they are on it for years in lots of cases and it is thus an ongoing expense.
Millions and millions of dollars, literally in Archdioceses are spent on schools and buildings. Millions and millions of dollars on renovations, teacher salaries, school building and church maintenance and paintings on domes. Seriously. At some point are women just going to go- they don't give a Rat's A about our health. All these men could care less about whether we died or not.
There was recently a movie on cable called The Cardinal- its an old classic. There is a bone chilling scene in it wherein the young priest is faced with his blood sister giving birth in a manner that threatened her life and he ordered there not be an abortion knowing his sister would die and asked for her confession before she died. It would shock the sensibilities now.
Women are saying, hey- mr. man. You don't get to say whether I die or not. I get to say.
If they need a hysterectomy and cannot afford one and will die fast from uterine cancer (this is a fast dead because it is incredibly fast spreading typically due to the tissue structures around the uterus) HHS says we want to make sure there is some insurance that will take care of this person to save their life. Isn't Jesus in the life saving healing business.

Reading blog posts and facebook comments it is easy to see now that the more well groomed clergy with chains draping their breasts take to the cameras the madder and madder women get. Because they know millions and millions and millions of dollars are spent on elective optional things like new and improved church doors and painting on domes, while their very lives hang in the balance of this budgetary show down.

It's not a democracy, the church. When it gets into some of these issues it looks more like a business than In Persona Christie.

If it were really being healing minded instead of budget minded we would be hearing efforts to make distinctions between elective and non elective procedures and medicines and non conflation of abortofascients from contraceptives.

More First Amendment

news you might be able to use.

There is currently a battle in New York concerning whether churches can use public schools for worship services.
Smaller congregations of protestants use schools to hold worship services but have recently been kicked out under a firm Bloomberg policy.
A federal judge has said yes to a Bronx church, until we get the Second Circuit appellate ruling.

Friday, February 17, 2012

What's all this about Health Care Mandates?

Another reason

It might be good if Bishops had experience with their own families.
Just like the Bible cautions should be the case. Here we see again the church divided. Elizabeth Warren noted it makes people hate politics. Do you want to make it the reason people hate Bishops too?


What is Hyperplasic Endometriosis?

Ask any Bishop, he surely must know-because all of them have condemned the use of 'contraceptives'. It is a condition in which the lining of the uterus is overly thickened by massively intense blood flow infusions. This is a dangerous condition because it can affect other organs as blood goes where it is not supposed to all through the pelvic cavity. It can be reversed and regulated by stopping ovulation for several months at a time because ovulation triggers blood flow. So contraceptives, or the drugs taken to stop ovulation, can reverse and cure this condition. This is prescribed on even not
sexually active people because sex does not cause this condition. It is believed to be inspired by a hormonal imbalance among other things and the mechanisms which trigger blood lining the uterus to make it hospitable to pregnancy go haywire. If the condition is put under control a healthy pregnancy is more likely to happen. Therefore in such cases contraception used for a limited amount of time to treat this condition is more not less condusive to bearing children.
The science on this is pretty incontrovertible. The pain of an endometriotic hyperplasic condition is something no Bishop ever experienced.
That is why when you get into women's health and reproduction decisions, involving women and their doctors is a good thing. Should be done also in Congressional hearings.

Here is an NIH study recommending contraceptives for this condition:

The Bishops are not generally speaking gynocologysts or oncologists. There may be one or two I am not aware of but it is not a qualification. So you would think that they would be able to temper the rhetoric with humility in the medical science arena when faced with someone compiling medical studies from around the world to assess the wisdom of various positions. This is why demonization of opposing positions on moral grounds can look just silly.

Yes, it affects other organs, so women's 'reproductive health' affects her overall health.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

fact check

and government checks

Does Catholic Charities get federal funding?
This looks real don't you think?


And real Medicine.

Today Bishop Lori and others testified about the reach of the HHS contraception mandate on hospitals.
If one assumes that mandates are at all constitutional- not a given, still an open question but lets assume they are. The good Bishop might agree that if insurance is being foisted on employers that the coverage should include treatment for female plumbing issues, especially life threatening ones like uterine cancer or uterine or ovarian cysts that can lead to uterine cancer. Do we have any disagreement on that? If there were some drug that cured uterine or ovarian cysts outside of surgery which were much less expensive than surgical removal then we would want that part of the coverage-right? Sometimes these cysts are so painful it is difficult to do a job with them-they have to be taken care of, for the productivity of the employee if nothing else. So you want them treated for that and cured-right?
Well it turns out that uterine cysts are not that uncommon. They affect a significant portion of the population. It also turns out that they can be reduced and prevented by what is commonly used also as contraceptives.
Hmmmmm. A moral dilemna.

Today on the hill a Georgetown Law student who wanted to tell a story about how a friend had one such situation that could not get treated because she could not afford the medication, e.g. contraception, and so lost her overy and became infertile as a direct consequence of being too poor to buy the medicine.

They excluded her testimony. Perhaps they were right, she is not an expert and the story is anecdotal. There should have been a real Doctor Gynocologist to explain to the all male panel that this is a legitimate prescribed use of this- that it prevents surgeries and can even prevent hysterectomies if cysts are treated early.

So shouldn't there be a clear distinction in the Bishop's minds between
contraception (condoms are even acknowledged by the Pope as Aids prevention_)
and Abortofascient morning after pill type drugs. They don't need to be lumped together in terms of coverage. Pills that regulate cycles to reduce or prevent cysts could be allowed while abortofascients precluded.
Even if the definition of the exclusion is not expanded on establishment clause grounds, certainly a distinction can be made between contraception and abortofascients- right?

Or do the Bishops rather people just get uterine cancer and die? Surely they don't want the backlash of such an absurdist posture-do they?
The question should be less "where are all the women" and more "where are all the real doctors?" and why do we have an HHS secretary that is not an MD or Gynocologist but sleeping with Planned Parenthood instead?

There is a woman in the bible who bled for 12 years. She didn't know what to do and wasted ALL HER MONEY on doctors. Still she had a condition where she bled for 12 years. If only I can touch the hem of the garmet of Jesus I can be made well, she thought. And so she braved the crowd and against the rules of etiquette of the day, reached for the garment robe of Jesus and got close enough to grab the hem as he passed by. Instantly, she was made whole and well and her issue of blood ceased. Power went out of him, he felt. He wondered who that was who touched him. The woman could have had a bleeding uterine cyst. His power could have worked like a laser catherization that stopped the bleeding instantly. Now, thank God for science we have developed medicines with the wisdom and guidance of God, to cure such conditions non invasively. Lets hope the Bishops can sense the power release from them also to cure such women.

did you know

Elvis' First Kiss Became a Nun?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Starry Night (interactive animation) from Petros Vrellis on Vimeo.

Jesuit approved humor

His Pastor is Father Martin, S.J. Author of 'Between Heaven and Mirth.'

My Life

As A You-Tube Junkie

I love it. It is amazing what people post. I find it just fantastic. Everyone is a movie producer now- and you can make movies with a camera. There are some strange things on You-Tube, some entertain, some educate. You can learn minor surgical techniques as doctors take to promoting themselves there. You can learn what missionaries are doing in various African countries. You can hear music in foreign languages. You can see the latest campaign trail bloopers. In my perusing, I did not expect to see confessions of former Satanists. Don't ask me what 'possessed' me to look at one (bad pun, sorry) but it was shocking. A woman who is the daughter of a Satanist high priest (aeronotical engineer by day) living in California says her father turned her into a 'breeder' to offer baby sacrifices to Satan in rituals, so as soon as she was able to get pregnant in her early teens, she was impregnated by her father, delivered via satanist midwives who kept no birth records and the child that she never saw was slaughtered given to Satan in a ritual. She had several children like this- unbelievable that this happens in America.
Then you think about it harder and you realize, young women every day of the week are handed over to abortionists who keep no birth records, who slaughter a child without the birthmother ever seeing it, over and over again. Because we have normalized the practice. It is a demonically influenced practice. It hit me hard after watching the satanic ritual person recount getting pregnant over and over again, never to see her child, losing it to someone who wanted to gain something by slaughtering her children.
There have been 60 million abortions in this country. They are not 'rare' exceptions, they are the rule. Can you imagine the demons dancing around Planned Parenthood. Demons are real, people. Wake the Hades Up.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Worse French Accent Ever

There is a sometimes popup here that you should ignore if your popup filter doesn't catch it that is wildly antisemetic. I vehemently disagree with the popup but wanted to post the Romney with aweful french accent. I may later find the popop so offensive I will delete this but hope people see the ridiculous French video at some point.
The person who did this video did it to castigate Romney for speaking french at all- there is a caption in one of the links that says 'no conservative speaks french' and another that says "would you shake hands with a Jew" which means the guys who hate Romney are antisemite xenophobes. All antisemite xenophobes who hate french people please vote for who? Gingrich or Santorum? Maybe Romney should switch parties.

You are kidding-right? Please tell me you are kidding.

Holocaust survivor says cut out the baptism for the dead bit on deceased Jews please -Mitt.


and re: below, no his Dad did not march with MLK.

Post Traumatic Stress

Disorder and the GOP

Notably totally absent from the CPAC conference and pretty much on the campaign trail everywhere is anyone of prominence from the Bush Administration. They lost the White House and their disasterous foreign policy and murderous rampages in Iraq had a lot to do with that. To this date they have not come clean with how they manipulated press and intelligence to con the country into launching a massive war which started the debt spirol. They demonized peace activists, they tried to crush political dissent and used every old hat trick of ridicule and intimidation and co-opting religious figures to compel a unified war time front. They glorified military, they drummed up phony patriotism, they demonized friends and turned them into enemies. It wouldn't help to have any of them around. I did see one guy who was all over the talking heads shows, a Republican lobbyist who I use to see sitting front and center at Saint Stephens catholic church in DC who is a notorious Torture advocate prancing around from one private party to the next at CPAC. Still, no one has been held accountable for the gratutious slaughter of a million Iraqis and those secret rendition torture sites and open denial of all civil rights without habeus corpus rights in places like Guantanamo. No one was held accountable but the lowly Lindy military Abu Ghraib guard and her motley crew- as if no one above her set the tone or gave the orders to engage in humiliation strategies in the playbook.

There has to be a full Truth and Reconciliation in this country over this war. It is over now, but it has to be analyzed and people have to come clean on why they did it- chips falling where they may. Because the distrust and animosity pervades modern political life to such a degree that anyone who profited off this war is tainted in the eyes of many. To get past the truly partisan rancor there should be a truth and reconciliation commision here.

From a Good and Kind Bishop

of Spokane Washington

In America mag. -the premier Jesuit publication, a thoughtful discourse on how we can come together and stop throwing verbal bombs at each other.


And the Single Gal

Santorum has a 'widows and orphans' problem. He was recently queried concerning odd statements he now attributes to his wife regarding those radical feminists who have to work for a living. He claims his wife felt put down when she chose instead to rear a child giving up a legal career. Santorum underestimates himself. She struck gold. To have a husband that wants to be faithful to raise children that wants you to stay at home is the gold standard for many. For others it is a prescription for boredom and intellectual decay-and why is it his business if they also wish to have a brain (If I only had a brain, sung the scarecrow in the Wizzard of Oz). Some are not so fortunate or blessed as his wife. I made the point earlier that I had a grandmother widowed young, and other relatives that lost their father to cancer, and another off the rails male who wasn't particularly useful in the support arena to demonstrate that single working women are radical feminists by survival necessity. This is the widows and orphans problem- spiritual widows, or orphaned by incompetence-it doesn't matter. There are massive numbers of incarcerated African American males -something like twenty percent at least of all African American males end up at some point in their life in jail- stunning. They often have mouths to feed. The women left behind have to feed them- so they are radical feminists by survival necessity. And thank God we have a workforce hospitable to them. There are women who have been abandoned by people they loved after having their heart gutted out of them like a fish cleaning, sometimes with kids, and they are spiritual widows fending for themselves. Half the country is divorced. Lots of spiritual widows. They are radical feminists by survival necessity. Thank God women can be professionals. And thanks to Obama and those before him who cared, those women should expect to get the same pay for the same work a man does and they can sue if they don't.
Then there are those devoted to and dedicated to different kinds of love- love that didn't involve raising children, because it didn't happen for them--not because they didn't try or were not looking in the right places. Love takes on many forms as we read today in the Huff Post Valentines breakdown of Eros, Phileo and Agape Godly loving.
Some people are self sacrificial loving others in a Phileo and Agape way and they have to have a job to keep on keeping on.
It is unkind to condemn or criticize someone for not being as blessed as you. The bible teaches that the hallmark of true justice is how one takes care of the 'widows and orphans' in society. I don't want to mark Santorum's scorecard on that. But it seems all in Vogue in higher Republican circles to trashtalk working women, and more so professional women. This, I suggest comes from a dark place of male ego insecurity and does not become anyone running for President.
Then there are those women God called, gifted and hopefully equipped to do big things, important things, things they are equally capable of and strongly talented and uniquely skilled to do. They should do them or they are not following God's will for their lives. They should do them even if they have to do them alone with or without a male supporting them. They should do them even if they don't have children. Every woman does not feel it God's call on them to have children. They are not all Mother Theresa, but Santorum would probably call her a radical feminist too. Thank God for the Radical Feminists. You Go Girl.