Sunday, December 27, 2009

Gentle apostasy

Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God
  - James 4:4b
I believe the Catholic Church is the one founded by Jesus, her Sacraments and her very life flowing from His pierced side. I also believe that the Church in this part of the world and at this point in time is floundering pitifully, having wandered far from her Lord's heart and will.

The wandering away has been a slow regress over the decades, a gradual erosion of fervor, exemplified in a thousand ways. The previous post's question is one example. The Democratic party was at one time nearly synonymous with Catholicism. So now most Catholics and most Catholic clergy want to remain loyal, and find ways to be reconciled with the Democrat's current brand of ungodly socialism. At best, it may timidly be suggested that, perhaps, some principles are important, and maybe we should, you know, study certain matters more carefully. Above all, one must not appear to be rigid or harsh, and one must never alienate anyone, no matter how serious the error.

The typical dumbing down of today's feast (Holy Family) is another example. Permission is granted to use an alternative to the (gasp!) patriarchal Scripture reading about husbands and wives. Of course, the more palatable alternative is nearly always adopted by the local parish.

Besides being a limp-wristed concession to the world, and to our culture's socialist and feminist and egalitarian errors, this meek approach leads away from God. The error that is tolerated out of human respect and a fear of alienation is eventually embraced as one's own belief. You avoid speaking against popular sins and after awhile find nothing sinful except what your culture condemns. This is not the highway to holiness or faithfulness.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Is socialized health care good?

Here is a question that has been haunting me of late. And I mean this sincerely, not rhetorically nor as a sarcastic swipe. If anyone can give me an honest reply (for which I may have more questions), I would be grateful. Here it is:

As a young man I was a socialist, believing that government programs were the answer to most of society's problems. It took a personal conversion to Jesus, and, as noted elsewhere, some serious soul searching before I was able to rethink my ideological loyalties. Other, wiser souls were able to help me to see that socialism is inevitably atheistic. I came to see for myself that it also seemed bound up with legalized and tax-funded abortion, and with a host of other moral depravities.

Before long, I had adopted as my own the quote so favored by Dorothy Day,

He who at 20 is not a socialist has no heart.
He who at 30 is a socialist has no head.
I began to appreciate the Church's consistent stand against atheistic socialism. I cheered to see Pope John-Paul's role in the dismantling of the Soviet regime. I understood now that it was the Church and individual Christians, not the government, who could address the maladies of society. Through the centuries, the followers of Jesus have been the ones to build hospitals for the sick, orphanages for the abandoned, who have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and treated the ill and the dying.

But lately the consistent message from U.S. Catholic bishops is that we do well to expect health care from our government, only it just needs to be monitored so as not to violate Christian values. Bishop William F. Murphy, for example, is quoted as saying, "Genuine health care reform that protects the life and dignity of all is a moral imperative and a vital national obligation". This is no isolated quote, but seems to be the consensus among all the clergy.

After all the hard work and sacrifices that have been offered by Christians for the relief and healing of the sick, after building and staffing all those hospitals in Christian charity, after all the religious orders founded upon the apostolate of healing, now we should turn the reins over to government? And - - this government?????

I truly don't understand.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Abortion is Genocide - 2

In response to my May 2007 blog post entitled "Abortion is Genocide", an admiring reader recently left this anonymous note:

You are a lover of words, hmmm?

The Oxford English Dictionary's definition of genocide: "The deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group." There are no alternate definitions.

Abortion is not an act that targets a specific ethnicity or nationality. You reduce your own credibility when you make simple mistakes.

More importantly - you are dogmatic to the point of lunacy. You will never successfully influence government legislation. You are the most toxic kind of intolerant pseudo-intellectual.

The first premise here appears to be that a particular edition of the Oxford English Dictionary must be taken as an absolute and final authority on the true meaning of words. Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether or not this constitutes a dogmatic assertion, 22-week-old aborted baby I would remind my reader that the word "genocide" is a fairly modern one. It seems reasonable to grant significant authority to the word's originator and to the various contexts of its usage in recent times.

In the aforementioned post I did not labor extensively over why the word "genocide" is applicable to the widespread crime of abortion, nor will I do so now. Instead, repeating what I wrote 2+ years ago, I again recommend the "Abortion is Genocide" article by Mick Eugene Hunt and this CBR page as providing good insights into why "Abortion is Genocide" is a fair and accurate statement. It is unclear but doubtful whether my admirer bothered to read either article.

And then there is this sentence:

You will never successfully influence government legislation.

This sentence I will not refute at all. Frequent readers of this blog (if there be any) will know that I have tried for some time to agitate for a tax resistance movement because of the tax funding of abortion - what I call a "Pro-life strike". So much so that early this year I launched the website. The emphasis here, however, is not to influence government. That intent is perhaps a tertiary goal, but certainly not a primary or even a secondary one.

The primary goal of the Pro-life strike is to purify our pro-life prayers, fasts, and efforts. It is simply futile and foolish to continue our other efforts so long as we are willingly cooperating and financially supporting Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion juggernaut via our tax dollars. We pray for life, and then we willingly pay for death!

The secondary goal, if it please the Lord, is to begin to change our culture. We do that by prayer and evangelizing, and also by changing our own lives to reflect our convictions. (For an expansion of this thought, see the "Cultural tsunami" post.) Again, it is of no use to think we can change this culture of death to a culture of life unless we are ready to sacrifice and change our own lives.

Only when we are willing to make sacrificial changes will we be able to change our culture. Only when the underlying culture changes will our representatives in government get the message. Influencing public policy for the better is a noble aspiration, but I believe it is a serious error to place our primary emphasis upon directly influencing government.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

U.N. Petition for the Unborn Child - 3

C-Fam logo Last year, Austin Ruse of C-Fam launched the U.N. Petition for the Unborn Child. The purpose of this online petition is to reaffirm that human rights begin with the right to life and the integrity of the family unit, as stated in the UN's 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The petition attracted some 437,000 signatures by the time it was submitted to the UN in December 2008. Ruse has kept the petition up, hoping to resubmit it this year with a million signatures. Last I saw, it had some 626,000 signatures, up from a year ago, but far from the goal of 1,000,000.

This kind of action is quite effective in promoting the pro-life and pro-family message at the UN, a critical front in the battle. So, if you haven't already done so, please read the petition (it's brief) here. If you agree with it, fill out the form and click the 'Submit' button to sign it.

If you want, you may also review what this blog said about the petition last year here and here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Love, hate, and indifference

Speaking of hate crimes and the homosexual, the real hate criminals are those who hate or fear homosexuals so much that they consign them to hopeless stasis, deny them the possibility of repentance and forgiveness.

As Pope Benedict has pointed out in Caritas In Veritate, love and truth are inseparable.

Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived. (¶ 3)
Jesus, who is Love incarnate and Truth incarnate, speaks the truth to the sinner and so offers moral freedom to the sinner. (John 8:31-36)

Real love, then, upholds the truth and makes freedom possible. Denial of truth and freedom is a form of hatred. The only question is which is worse, which is the opposite of love: active hatred, or passive indifference. The following from The Manhattan Declaration is a noble aspiration, worthy of pursuit:

And so it is out of love (not "animus") and prudent concern for the common good (not "prejudice"), that we pledge to labor ceaselessly to preserve the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and to rebuild the marriage culture. How could we, as Christians, do otherwise?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hate crimes

Though they know God's decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.
  - Rom.1:32
The notion of exacting more severe punishment for a 'hate' crime requires the deification of government bureaucracy. That is to say, it requires one to ascribe to government authorities the divine attribute of knowing the inner workings of the human mind, of judging not only the criminal's behavior but the feelings which inspired that behavior.

But, as a god, our government is woefully incompetent. So, rather than really discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart, it can only assume that crimes committed against certain individuals must be necessarily inspired by hatred, and therefore more heinous. Such assumptions are bound to be wrong most of the time.

Being a worshipper of the living God, I despise false gods. So I feel compelled to deliberately defy this latest arrogance. Does our lordly government now call it a crime to hate homosexuals? To hate homosexuality? To hate sodomy? Well, then, I have a few statements to make very openly and defiantly:

- Homosexual acts are sins against nature.

- Sodomy is one of the few sins that cry out to heaven for vengeance. (Gen.18:20-21)

- Homosexuality is intrinsically disordered, and no government authority can legitimize it.

- Homosexuality, like most addictions, is difficult but not impossible to cure.

The point is, I fear the true God, and earnestly seek to agree with Him. If the government now considers that a crime, bring on the handcuffs. Truth is truth. Those who oppose God's truth are fools, and deserve no respect, regardless of their political power.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Faith and Reason

Pope Benedict's theme has been the interdependence of faith and reason. To cherish faith but scorn reason is to wreak havoc on one's faith. To dismiss faith in favor of rationalism is to become irrational. Faith and reason are not only compatible; they are interdependent. We need both, or we will lose both.

Here's an example. Rotary International has recently been airing radio spots to promote its goal of teaching peace throughout the world. They're even offering scholarships to that end. To teach peace. But - - - but - - - how do you teach peace?

You see the problem. This phrase - "teach peace" - can only make sense if you ignore the truth of the human condition. Only if you are clueless about Original Sin and the fallen state of man will you imagine that Man can be educated into goodness. That is, only if you scuttle the principles of faith and its revealed truth will you grasp at this useless straw. Loss of faith leads to loss of reason.

O, by the way, Rotary International is also one of those "charities" that have no problem promoting abortion. (See "When charity goes bad" a couple posts ago.) That's rational, isn't it? Secure peace while killing the innocent. I think Mother Teresa got it right [1].

Note 1: "The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion."

Monday, August 31, 2009

Good and faithful servants Mt.25:21

Convinced as I am that the pre-born are "the least of our brethren" (Mt.25:40), my favorite charities are of the pro-life flavor. The following are, in my opinion, the most worthy that I have come across:

Jesus taught "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.". This shows us that the key to any pro-life progress is in how much it costs us. "Follow the money" is good advice, and not just in a worldly sense. Specifically, pro-life people ought not be paying for abortions. How can we pray for life and then pay for death? For this reason, I rate Life Decisions International (LDI) near the top for their pro-life efforts. Briefly, these folks are leading the boycott of abortion-friendly corporations, and have succeeded in 'converting' over 100 corporations to an abortion-neutral corporate policy. This is a significant blow to the abortion juggernaut, and an essential part of the battle. More importantly, it is a way to purify our other pro-life prayers and labors. (It is this idea which eventually inspired the next step, that of resisting the tax-funding of abortion. Same principle: why pray for life and pay for death? See the Pro-Life Strike site for more on this.)

The most crucial pro-life battles are in other parts of the world. For this reason, I nominate two groups that focus on the international scene. Human Life International (HLI) is the only pro-life presence in many countries, and are single-handedly, with God's grace, challenging and holding back the forces of death in these locations.

C-Fam logo In the same vein is The Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), who do yeoman's work in pro-life advocacy at the United Nations. Two posts below [1] [2] tell just a little of their vital efforts in defending human life around the world, and the real impact they are having.

Rounding out my list of personally vetted charities are two Chicago-based organizations with whom I have had personal involvement. They are Miles Jesu, a lay religious order, and The Women's Centers, with its series of free clinics. And my friend in Canada, David Little, whose unique mission has been the subject of earlier posts. See this article for the most recent development.

Monday, August 17, 2009

When charity goes bad

Among the many cultural and political travesties of our time, one of the most painful to behold is the decline of charitable causes. Used to be, charitable and religious organizations could be counted on to be forthright and transparent in their goals and practices. Deception was rare, and, when discovered, was cause for much shame, publicity and scandal. Sadly, those days seem to be past.

Life Decisions International (LDI) has identified over 80 non-profits who are linked to Planned Parenthood and/or its agenda. In most cases, (e.g. American Cancer Society, Girl Scouts, Rotary Club) the organization's support for PP and the abortion agenda bears no apparent relationship to its stated purpose. In some cases (e.g. Save the Children, March of Dimes, UNICEF), the connection seems grossly antithetical. This web page contains some more examples and an interesting conversation, and my "Pink deception" post of a couple years ago tells of an especially galling case.

So, when Catholic Charities and others recently gave public support to Obamacare, I was saddened but not terribly shocked. It seems that money talks, and having a prominent place at the the political power table is more important than the Gospel.

What to do? I suggest signing up for LDI's CFP list, which keeps an up-to-date tally of corporate and non-profit PP sponsors for our awareness. We should, sadly, jettison our naive trust, and form a habit of carefully vetting each charity before donating.

I hope to write soon of a couple organizations that I believe have proven themselves clean and worthy of our wholehearted support.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Toward the top of my internet priority list is my Pro-life Strike website. Prefaced right here at "Dogpatch, Ergo Sum" and officially launched in January 2009, it hasn't yet generated the interest for which I was hoping. But the concept seems so basic and relevant to me: that we recognize how our tax dollars are fueling the abortion holocaust, and simply begin to withdraw that tax support. So I keep trying, recently adding a blog to the site to try to attract some traffic via search engines, blog links, etc.

Near the bottom of my web interests are anonymous and pseudonymous bloggers, who appear mostly irrelevant.

These two extremes came together earlier today when one of these irrelevant bloggers left a comment on my aforementioned blog. The no-name commenter recently launched a blog entitled "Operation Counterstrike", which advocates violence against pro-life activists.

I don't know if this is meant as a counter to my site, and it still isn't the type of interest for which I've been looking. But I'll take encouragement nonetheless. If my site can attract the attention of a pro-abort, albeit a bit player, perhaps it is hitting a nerve after all.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Love in Truth

The alignment of political and ideological camps is weird and illogical. For example, I have never been able to understand why most political conservatives, at least the most vocal ones, seem so opposed to earth-friendly, "green" principles, and to despise what they call "enviromentalist wackos". Is the uninhibited use of fossil fuels, for instance, really a traditional value? Is unfettered capitalistic development truly "conservative"?

Likewise, I can't figure out why tax-funded abortion, embryonic stem cell exploitation, and euthanasia should be enshrined as liberal or progressive values. What's so "liberal" about such a despairing, inhuman, and cruel cheapening of human life?

Or again, those who champion "gay" rights seem inevitably to posit their ideology as one of "love", while fearing or deriding those who hold to the unique sanctions of traditional marriage. The cornerstone of civilization and of human love is portrayed as "hate", and its perverse dismantling as "love". Go figure.

Yet the need to align with one's camp is so strong that the values and slogans are embraced, logic be damned.

The above is one reason why I am a Catholic. The Church founded by Christ is one camp whose values remain logically consistent through the whole spectrum of issues. Not that all Catholics are perfectly faithful to the principles, but the principles themselves are solid and consistent. To a logician, this is vitally important.

Pope Benedict XVI Pope Benedict's latest encyclical is a wonderful example of this. Its title, Caritas In Veritate ("Love in Truth"), sets the tone. Love and truth are not opposed, but complementary.

Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived. (¶ 3)
Likewise, love and logic are complementary.
Intelligence and love are not in separate compartments: love is rich in intelligence and intelligence is full of love. (¶ 30)

Within this fusion of love and truth, faith and reason, Pope Benedict straightens out all kinds of tangled and confused ideas. As a result, there is something in this encyclical for everyone, regardless of their ideological camp. And there is something in Caritas In Veritate to disturb every ideologue, too. The principles of economic development, environmental care, the sanctity of human life, and the central importance of stable traditional families and other topics are all brought together in a way that makes perfect sense, though no single political ideology is wholly embraced. The reason for this is simple: The alignment of political and ideological camps is weird and illogical, while Caritas In Veritate is the logician's answer, a breath of fresh air to one who loves truth and esteems love.

Slow that I am, I have only begun to appreciate the depths of this important encyclical. Please read it for yourself.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


To love only to seek - on condition of never finding - to want only disquietude, that is to hate truth.
  - Jacques Maritain

αληθεια Beneath all controversial issues, at the very root of things, lies the question about truth. Does truth exist? Can the human mind know truth? This is the pivot; upon it hinge all moral and cultural consequences.

If truth does not exist, or if it can never be known, all other moral and ideological debates are pointless. All I have in that case are my own subjective conjectures, the accumulated observations of my limited 58 years. All we have collectively are opinion polls - the aggregate pool of multiple subjective conjectures. The most heinous crime is acceptable and the most natural affections are shunned if only a majority will say that it must be so. Tomorrow, a new cultural wind may blow, and different values ascend. Nothing may be relied upon except the current poll.

But if truth exists, and ours minds can know it, the story is completely different. The truth becomes objective, solid, and reliable. The truth remains true, even if few or none follow it.

The Catholic faith assumes this to be the case. The word Catholic simply means universal; it signifies that the principles and dogmas of the Faith apply to all people in all parts of the world of all ages, races, backgrounds, and aptitudes, throughout all of human history. The tenets are absolutely reliable and trustworthy.

We get this from Jesus Himself, who said

". . . For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice."
  - John 18:37b [RSV]
Moreover, Jesus is Truth Incarnate. ". . . I am the way, the truth, and the life. . ."  (John 14:6) 

Ideas have consequences. This idea has foundational consequences.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


If God does not judge America soon, he'll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.
  - Mrs. Ruth Graham
Barack Obama Oddly enough, Barack Obama and the current Congress may indeed be a long-sought answer to prayer. More than a prayer: a spiritual hunger issuing from the depths of our souls for decades now. The quote from Mrs. Graham reflects that heartfelt prayer. A plea for justice in the face of escalating injustice and wicked ungodliness. A plaintive cry, along with the Psalmist, "How long, O Lord?"

Romans 9:22 portrays God as patiently crafting "vessels of wrath" with which to mete out righteous judgment. What is meant by "vessels of wrath"? Well, take a look at Obama and the socialists in Congress; don't they fit the bill quite nicely? Their reckless programs, undertaken at breakneck speed, appear destined to finally bring down the whole damned house of cards. (I use the 'd' word deliberately here, and not as a mere expletive.) And that will be just. It will not be pleasant, but it will be good.

Another way of saying this is to assert that sin carries within itself its own punishment. If you defy the laws of God, you will be punished - by your own defiance. Thus, if you defy the law of gravity by stepping out of a 15th floor window, your actions will result in your death or paralysis. Did God punish you? Well, yes, in the sense that He invented gravity and the other laws of physics, and then He allowed those laws to have their effect upon your physical being. The consequent punishment is both God's doing and your own fault.

This applies to moral laws as well. Defy those laws, and face the consequences. Moreover, this seems to be as true collectively as it is for individuals. Notice, for example, that Mt. 25:32 says the Son of man will judge between the nations, not between individuals. So, when the disastrous policies of this administration bring about the apocalyptic end of America as a world power, it will simply be the fruit of our own moral choices as a society. America now has the government she deserves. We had best brace ourselves for the consequences.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.
  - Mal.4:6
Thanks, Dad! Again this Father's Day, let me simply reassert: Fatherhood is one of the core elements in the triumvirate that provides the foundation for stable civilization. Marriage, Family, Fatherhood. Specifically, monogamous marriage, the nuclear family composed of father, mother and their offspring, and the structure ordained by God: mother as heart, father as head. Like it or not, it's a patriarchal arrangement by God's design. Other arrangements may sound more progressive, but this is the core. We abandon or neglect it at our own peril.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Idea blog

As indicated in its descriptive heading "Random rantings on faith, culture, life... ", Dogpatch, Ergo Sum is an ideas blog. As opposed to a journal type of web log, in which news and events are reported at regular, timely intervals, the articles in this blog are mostly about ideas, concepts, principles, truths. With few exceptions, they are not tied to current events; they can be read and commented upon at any time or season.

But (speaking of time) over time, one idea has come to dominate: that of a pro-life strike. So much so that in January 2009, after about two years of Dogpatch, Ergo Sum blogging, I launched Now I've recently attached a new blog to that site, based upon that single idea: that pro-life folks ought not be paying for abortion, and therefore ought to seriously consider not paying their taxes.

Please check out this new blog and the whole site associated with it. I'll leave a link to it in the left side bar here. If my level of posting various ideas to Dogpatch, Ergo Sum begins to subside, it may be because I am focusing upon that one idea, and its associated blog and website.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Notre Dame

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Mt.6:21 RSV)
I hope you are as encouraged as I am over the controversy at Notre Dame. First kudos go to Mary Ann Glendon for selflessly declining the Laetare Medal. Her letter to Fr. Jenkins is a fine example of grace, courage, clarity, and solid morals.

Many of the students have also demonstrated remarkable vision in simply declining to participate in their own commencement ceremony. They prefer to remain true to their core principles, and that is very edifying and encouraging. Likewise, the local ordinary, Bishop D'Arcy, has exercised his proper role of teacher of the Faith in his openly published statements on the matter.

All these have responded admirably and at personal sacrificial cost, and we owe them a debt of gratitude. But, in my opinion, the most effective response has come from the alumni. More effective because more concrete. As stated in their website,

Although we love Notre Dame, our conscience requires that we withhold all financial support from our University until such time as Father Jenkins is replaced as Notre Dame's President with someone who will be more loyal to the teaching of the Catholic Church.
which is to say, these men and women have put their money where their mouth is. And, let's face it, money talks.

Money Notice that this is not crass materialism. The primary intent is not to use wealth to leverage or coerce Notre Dame into doing the right thing. The first motive is that of conscience. The way we invest our money is necessarily a reflection of what we hold most dear. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The desire to prod Notre Dame is important as well, but secondary.

As to this secondary reason, the actions of the Notre Dame alumni are also more likely to be effective. The Notre Dame Trustees appear to be ideologically and politically in bed with Obama (see this report), and so are unlikely to be swayed by any of the above acts of conscience. But when they see their funds dwindle, they may be moved to see the light. It's the human condition. Money talks.

Do you suppose the above ideas could be applied beyond the situation at Notre Dame? Is Notre Dame a sort of microcosm of a larger picture?

It occurs to me that we have a very similar scenario in the public sanctioning of abortion on demand. As with the Notre Dame scandal, there are many people responding faithfully, sacrificially, heroically. Yet the slaughter of the innocents continues unabated. Even as we work to turn things around and pray for the conversion of hearts, the killing and the money flow continues.

Hey, I have an idea! Let's take the example of the Notre Dame alumni to heart. In addition to all the other fine pro-life work that is being done, let's stop funding the abortion industry with our tax dollars. Our primary motive will be that of conscience - that we can in good faith no longer pay for death while we pray for life. But, think of the secondary effect, too: If the flow of money is disrupted, the powers that be may actually begin to get it, though they laugh at our other prayers and protests.

Let's see - we could call this effort a Pro-life tax strike, or an abortion boycott. What do you think? Let's do it!

Now... why didn't somebody think of this before?

Related: A citizens' movement to refuse abortion taxes

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Victory in New Brunswick

Five months ago, I reported on an important legal case in Canada, but have now been dilatory in relaying the latest development. On April 29, David Little appeared before the New Brunswick Court of Appeal (roughly equivalent to a State Supreme Court in the U.S.) for the latest chapter in his legal case to establish that tax-funded abortion violates one's right of conscience and therefore one's freedom of religion. This is an important case, with potential to set legal precedent in Canada and elsewhere.

The three-judge panel decided, against the Crown's objections, to grant Little's leave to appeal, and to reserve judgment until all pertinent information has been reviewed. Regardless of their final verdict, it will likely be appealed to the Canadian Supreme Court, probably this fall. This is good news, an answer to ardent prayer, but it's not final. Please keep this intention in your prayers.

For more details, read David's own summary account here, or click on the photo.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Prayerful sin

Did you know that prayer can be sinful? It's true. The great moral teachers say that some things are intrinsically evil, i.e., they are always sinful, under all circumstances. But no human act is always and without exception virtuous. Even something like prayer which is ordinarily good can, under certain circumstances, be sinful. Here's an illustration:

Scenario #1:

Suppose you're walking all alone on a quiet, empty beach. Suddenly you hear a cry for help, and, looking out to the water, briefly see a child's head, with arms flailing about uselessly. Then the child goes under again. That child is drowning! Though an adequate swimmer, you're not sure you can swim well enough to reach and save the child, so instead you kneel on the sand and pray for God to save him. Such prayer is a sin, a sin of omission. It is a sinful prayer, or, if you prefer, a prayerful sin.

Scenario #2:

Now suppose that the beach is not empty, but crowded with thousands of people. And, out in the water, not one but hundreds of children are drowning. Some of the people on the beach seem not to notice the children. Others notice, but are deliberately ignoring them. Still others are watching with interest, some even laying bets as to which child will last the longest. Finally, you find a large group of people who are kneeling together on the beach, praying for the children. Two individuals are in the water, actually attempting to rescue some of them, but many will surely perish for lack of assistance.

Scenario #3:

Finally, suppose that the children are deliberately being drowned by an armed detachment of government agents. Any attempt to rescue the children or even to interfere is immediately quashed. Moreover, everyone on the beach is being compelled to assist in the drowning operation. Some people are praying for the children, for a miraculous rescue, even as they willingly comply. Some are also fasting. Some are mailing red envelopes in protest.

From a moral standpoint, the biggest difference between scenario 3 and scenarios 1 & 2 is that the sin has become one of commission, not omission. To actively cooperate in evil is of greater moral magnitude than to passively omit doing good.

Please consider how your taxes pay for the slaughter of the innocents, and what your willing cooperation in that slaughter really means.

Related: A citizens' movement to refuse abortion taxes

Friday, April 24, 2009

Moral freedom

Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
  - Joel 3:14 [RSV]
... therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.
  - Deut. 30:19b [RSV]
Continuing from previous posts... The importance of conscience is intimately connected with the notion of moral freedom. Moral freedom simply means an unhindered ability to exercise one's conscience, to make moral choices.

As was observed with fasting, this is a uniquely human attribute. As amoral beings, animals can only behave as their appetites, instincts and conditioned behavior dictate. They lack the ability to deliberately choose right vs. wrong, whereas we humans are constantly making moral choices, choosing whether to go this way or that, right or left, good or evil.

Reason teaches us that freedom is not absolute. In any sane society, one's freedom to do this or that is contingent upon whether another person's basic human rights would be infringed upon. One person can not be "free" to deliberately harm another. Such would not be true freedom, but a crime.

Sound religion goes further, teaching us that true freedom consists in seeking and choosing that which is good. Moral slavery involves being bound by one's appetites, instincts, and conditioned behavior, just as an animal. If you are constantly doing whatever you have an itch to do, you are not really free, but a slave to your own desires, no better than a dumb animal. To become fully human involves deliberately rising above merely animal appetites, and exercising volition in willing and doing good.

God is "pro-choice" in the truest sense of the term. He has endowed us humans with a moral nature. He gives us the faculty of volition, of free will, and he sets before us two paths, allowing us to choose which we will follow. He pleads with us to choose life, which leads to true freedom, as opposed to death and enslavement. But God will not force us to take the right path; we must each freely choose life over death, good over evil.

If you are constantly doing whatever you have an itch to do, you are not really free, but a slave to your own desires.
In this light, the politics of "choice" is seen to be a misnomer and a lie. The "right" to commit abortion is not a movement towards freedom, but a crime - the crime of murder. Moreover, it is an act of enslavement. Thus, advocates for abortion are true to their agenda when they seek to coerce doctors and nurses to violate their consciences in committing abortion. The so-called "pro-choice" ideology was never about moral freedom, but about trying to justify murder, and about contradicting the voice of conscience.

It is not legitimate for government to force health care workers to violate their consciences. And it is not right for these workers to abdicate their moral freedom in this matter. If a human authority seeks to strangle the voice of conscience, that human authority must be ignored or disobeyed.

Likewise - to issue my drum beat theme - it is not legitimate for government to force taxpayers against their consciences to pay for abortions, embryonic stem cell research, or other forms of murder. And taxpayers must not abdicate their consciences. We must not cooperate with the tax-funded slaughter of the innocents.

Related: A citizens' movement to refuse abortion taxes

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Conscience clause

Much has been made, and for good reason, about Obama's announced plan to rescind the "conscience clause" for health care workers. The conscience clause was put in place to allow doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other medical personnel to opt out of performing or assisting at abortions or other procedures to which they have moral objections. Rescinding this option is tantamount to fascist coercion and a repudiation of religious freedom for health care professionals.

This past Thursday, April 9, was the Administration's deadline for expressing opposition to the proposed rescission. I weighed in, and hope you did, too. I haven't yet heard whether the thousands of protests will be heeded or not. I think the sites to keep an eye on in this regard are and

There's another deadline approaching, which millions are racing to meet. By April 15, wage-earning Americans must sign their names to their 1040s and turn over a large percentage of their wages to the government, or risk the wrath of the IRS.

The signing of your name at the bottom is especially galling, isn't it? It means you are OK with everything, and that you are doing this of your own free will. You are willing that the government should use your tax dollars to fund abortions, Planned Parenthood, foreign population control programs, and the like. You are willing to underwrite the slaughter.

Where is the concience clause for taxpayers? Where is it written that we must hang our moral sensibilities up on a hook while we fill out and sign our tax returns? Why do we not protest against this fascist control of our very consciences?

Related: A citizens' movement to refuse abortion taxes

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pro-life strike

As the last few posts have hinted, Jerry eventually repented of his cooperation in the crime of abortion. This multi-year Lenten revival, this movement of prayer has gradually evolved into what I call the "Pro-life strike", a deliberate decision to withdraw my material support of the abortion dragon.

If others can see this truth as clearly, and join the effort, so much the better. And if we can thus nudge our culture and our government to stop the slaughter of the innocents, that would be the greatest blessing.

But whether or not the culture or the government respond is beyond my control. At the Last Judgment, I will have to answer for myself. So I must no longer join in the murderous orgy. I can no longer in good conscience pray for life, and then, as a docile citizen, pay for death. It is not my intent to be at odds with the civil authorities, but if they force me to choose between human law and God's Law, then I fear God, not man.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Who, me?

For your hands are defiled with blood
  and your fingers with iniquity
    - Isaiah 59:3
It is much, much worse than I have yet admitted. The prophet's words are for my ears, his accusing fingers are pointed at me, and I am condemned. Not only have I been less than steadfast in defending human life, but I have been one of those who shed the innocent blood. For all my pro-life talk, I myself am guilty of the crime of abortion.

O, but that was years ago, and, until the prophet pointed at me, I didn't know I was guilty; I really didn't. I knew abortion was wrong. That the deliberate killing of a wholly innocent little one was evil. I also knew that God forgives a repentant sinner, that great though the sin is, His mercy and forgiveness are greater. What I didn't know was that I was in need of repentance myself.

From the time that I saw those little ones as the the least of my brethren, I sought to come to their aid. Along with other pro-life folks, I prayed. I wrote letters and signed petitions. I prayed some more. I fasted. As the years passed, I lamented greatly that our prayers seem to go unheard. I cried out

Why have we fasted,
    and thou seest it not?
 Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and thou takest no knowledge of it?  [1]
This cry was heard, and God answered. But I did not like the answer.

Yes, I prayed, and the prayer was heartfelt. I fasted, and the fast was in earnest. In the meantime, I worked my job, collected my pay, and willingly surrendered a goodly portion of that pay to the government. And I learned how that money was used to fund Planned Parenthood, Title X abortions, and contraception, abortion and population control programs around the world. And I slowly came to admit that I was feeding the dragon. The prophet's finger was pointed at me, and I stood condemned.

This was God's answer to my cry?? That my prayers are hollow and my fasting cheap as long as I keep willingly contributing to the crime?

But... but... but, I don't want to pay for the killing of those helpless babies! Er... uhmmm... I mean, this isn't my idea! But.. well... but... O, dear me!

Well, yes, it is my money, I suppose. I put forth the effort, the time, and the skills to obtain it. And some of it is used to slaughter the innocents. I can no longer deny the truth. OK... (sigh)... I admit it. I am guilty.

This, too, by the grace of God, is a matter for repentance.  [2]

Note 1: Isaiah 58:3a [RSV]
Note 2: See:

Friday, March 13, 2009

The least of these

The threefold Lenten discipline of prayer, fasting, and giving can and should have a purifying and clarifying effect. Prayer and fasting lead the soul to generous giving. Fasting and giving lead the soul to reflective prayer. The following is a personal story, covering the past 36 years or so.

I was a young man in 1973 when Roe v. Wade shocked the American culture. From the very beginning, I knew that was wrong, and must be reversed. But within a fairly short span, I let myself be cowed by more liberal thinkers into a broader way of viewing things. Restoring legal status to the unborn, while important, was just one of many equally important issues. We must not become too narrow-minded; we must not be single-issue voters and thinkers. That much was axiomatic.

Pre-born sucking his thumb I believe it was through prayer and fasting that I eventually came to consider more thoughtfully the essence of giving to the poor. The Gospel passage that grabbed me at some point was Mt.25:31-46. This well-known story tells of the return of the King at the end, how he separates the sheep from the goats, judges them on the basis of how they gave to the poor and needy, and issues this divine judgement: " you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." (Mt.25:40b RSV)

And who, I pondered, are the very least of my brethren? Who are the poorest of the poor? To whom should I be especially generous, so as to be found giving to the Lord Himself?

There are poor people right here, even in my home town. I must give to them, and so I shall. But - are they the very least? Well, those in third-world countries are certainly poorer. Are they the least? What about those who actually die in war or in natural disasters? Loss of life is certainly more serious than mere poverty. Are these the least?

You already know where this leads. I was eventually forced to see that there was no greater poverty than that suffered by those who were wholly innocent and also wholly defenseless. These little ones could not even raise their voices in a plaintive cry for help. These were the very least. Giving to these would be giving to Jesus.

With renewed clarity of vision, I was cowed no longer. Although often unfaithful, and frequently forgetful, I have since endeavored to make this a major focus of my life, liberal goats notwithstanding.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


The third and final Lenten basic is alsmgiving, sometimes called mercy. I'll just use the generic word Give. If the prayer and fasting are genuine, they will naturally produce in the person who is praying and fasting a spirit of generosity toward the poor. Conversely, giving propels the generous soul to prayer and fasting, and leads to spiritual progress. The giving is itself a concrete action; it means giving in a material way to meet material needs.

Again, this is pretty straightforward; not much I can say to elaborate. But I would like to share a personal testimony on how these three Lenten disciplines have moved me, in Lents past and into the present. Coming soon.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Another of the three Lenten basics is prayer. Writing a blog post about prayer is a bit like writing about love. Either overwhelm all internet servers with terabytes upon terabytes of words, and still not do the subject justice, or be brief. This shall be brief.

The final 76 pages of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is devoted to Christian Prayer. Reviewing this, I was struck anew by this insight: That, though a thoroughly spiritual exercise, a movement of the heart, prayer is necessarily related to our physicality as well. " is the whole man who prays." {2562}

For one thing, the practice of fasting and other ascetics is essential to cultivating a healthy prayer life. A very common cause of sloth in prayer [2733], the spiritual masters say, is related to a failure to discipline the body through ascetical practices.

Secondly, true prayer is connected to living one's faith [2745] in concrete ways, else the prayer is hollow and meaningless.

Thus: Prayer, fasting, giving.

Monday, February 23, 2009


The season of Lent teaches us to return to basics; namely, the three basics of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (or mercy). This year, Pope Benedict has focused especially upon fasting.

Fasting from food is unique to us humans. Other animals may go without eating for any number of natural reasons. A domesticated animal may even be trained to refuse food as a conditioned behavior. But an animal has no spiritual nature; it does not have the faculty of volition, of free will, and so cannot deliberately choose to abstain from what its instincts, appetites, or conditioning demand. It cannot fast. Neither can angels fast; having no physical bodies, they have no need of food in the first place. To engage in fasting, one must be both physical and spiritual at the same time. We humans are the only creatures that fit the bill. It's a privilege, when you think of it; we can offer to our Creator something which no other creature can offer.

And so, the kind of fast that the discipline of Lent prescribes is the kind that engages both our physical and our spiritual natures. A non-religious person may fast solely for reasons of health or weight control. A hedonist may fast to heighten his pleasure in eating afterward. Such fasts could not be considered true Lenten practices, because they are merely physical; they do not connect with the spiritual partner of fasting which is prayer.

Likewise, a fast that does not connect with its other partner, almsgiving or mercy, is not a true Lenten fast. The religious person may fast severely and pray earnestly, but if he fails to give in concrete ways, his fast is incomplete, and his spiritual discipline is pointless. Chapter 58 of Isaiah rails against this kind of false fast, and Jesus condemned those who prayed and fasted rigorously, but whose hearts were far from both God and their neighbor in need. (e.g. Lk.18:9-14, Lk.5:29-35)

Fasting, then, as both a spiritual and physical reality is a sort of bridge uniting prayer and mercy. The essential harmony of these elements is perhaps best summarized by St. Peter Chrysologus:

Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God's ear to yourself
  - Sermo 43: PL 52, 320. 322.

So, hold the mayo. And hold the burger, too. Hold the pickle, bun, tomato... lettuce... pray.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day of reckoning

May you live in interesting times.
  - Ancient Chinese curse
Don't make me come down there!
  - God
Many in my parents' generation were convinced that Hitler was the Antichrist and WW II was Armageddon. My generation read and believed Hal Lindsay's Late Great Planet Earth and Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb. Apocalyptic portents seem to be part of every age, and many folks find such prospects oddly fascinating, and even attractive.

Others are repulsed by prophets of doom; they debunk and ridicule them, proclaiming with reciprocal certainty that no such evil will befall us. God is good, and will certainly protect his people from all harm, not to fear.

It is my opinion that the truth lies, not somewhere between these two extremes, but simultaneously in both. How so? Glad you asked.

We undoubtedly live in interesting times. While 'Global Warming' is a foregone conclusion in many circles, some scientists are actually warning of a possible Ice Age. Many cling stubbornly to a fear of overpopulation even as more developed nations face demographic implosion. Terrorism and turmoil continue unabated. Our newly elected leaders seem intent upon destroying our Constitution, and the new spending bills appear likely to result in economic chaos.

Some (including myself) see apocalyptic potential, not so much in these natural and political disasters, but in our culture's spiritual and moral disarray. Indeed, the former are merely the consequences and manifestations of the latter. A culture like ours that slaughters its innocent preborn and forsakes its foundation in the monogamous family is an empty shell, devoid of strength because devoid of virtue. It is certain to fall. Moral rottenness is the primary cause; one or more natural or man-made disasters are merely the proximate causes which will finally topple the emaciated phantasm.

Surely our doom is near.

Surely God will deliver us.

The two expectations are identical. History bears this out. God's cleansing, purgative work is usually not very pleasant. True love can cause awful pain.

There is, I believe, an alternative. A way to stay the hand of God and avoid his judgment. It's a pretty simple concept, too. It's called repentance. Lent is almost here; maybe we should give it a shot.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Isaiah 3:4,9-12

And I will make boys their princes,
and babes shall rule over them.
Their partiality witnesses against them;
they proclaim their sin like Sodom,
they do not hide it.
Woe to them!
For they have brought evil upon themselves.
Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them,
For they shall eat the fruit of their deeds.
Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him,
For what his hands have done shall be done to him.
My people - children are their oppressors,
and women rule over them.
O my people, your leaders mislead you,
and confuse the course of your paths.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Small in number, big in commitment

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
  maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
  deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
  - Ps. 82:3,4
Continuing the "Pro-life strike" theme: A recent Google search directed me to an online debate on the question of paying taxes that fund abortion. Delighted to find others who are asking this important question, I joined the debate. The initial delight was tempered upon finding the majority of debaters on the side of obediently paying the murder tax. It was further squelched when my opening comment was censored for pointing to the new Pro-life strike website. But let not my words be misconstrued: these folks are at least debating the idea, and that is a good thing. One can hope that at least some of them will pick up the mantle of righteous pro-life tax resistance. One can hope; but there obviously exists a great reluctance to cross certain social lines. The very thought of legal or financial turmoil sends many hurrying for plausible excuses.

Earlier today, I happened across a blog post that simply reproduced Dr. King's famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" of 1963. Some of King's words jumped out at me.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany...

I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"

...In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard many ministers say: "Those are social issues, with which the gospel has no real concern." And I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, un-Biblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed... Small in number, they were big in commitment.

Better thinkers than myself have called abortion the new civil rights issue of our time. As before, it may be a small but committed few who recognize this, and who are willing to sacrifice, to stir things up for the sake of justice.

Related: A citizens' movement to refuse abortion taxes

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pro-life strike website

"Dogpatch_Ergo_Sum" has recently featured and praised a number of pro-life leaders who are not household names, but who personally sacrifice much for the sanctity of human life. I especially esteem those who resist the taxpayer funding of the abortion industry. We pray for life; we must stop paying for death.

This recurrent "Pro-life strike" theme has now led to a new website. is premised on the idea that most of us can become active pro-life heroes in resisting the tax tyranny, and that we should try to do so in a coordinated way. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who quipped, "Let us hang together, or we shall surely hang separately." Like John the Baptist, we may raise our voice, and be crushed by worldly powers. Or we may work more quietly and unobtrusively, yet heroically. In either case, we must materially resist evil laws.

Are you ready to take the gloves off? Might you be willing to join with others in actively resisting the abortion tax tyranny? Maybe you or someone you know is already so engaged. I'd love to learn more. Let us work and pray together, not separately. Anyway, feel free to visit, and let me know what you think.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Lawrence Rosano

Returning to a recurrent theme for this blog: of showing respect for life in the way we spend our money, of refusing to fund the abortion industry. We must not pray for life, and then pay for death.

I've met many fine pro-life individuals recently, both in person and on the web. Most recently, I've run across another fellow pro-life blogger, one who shares the above conviction. In fact, he seems to have coined the term 'Pro-life strike' before I did. His name is Lawrence Rosano, and he has, among others, a blog entitled "ProLifeTaxStrike". No kidding.

Like David Little, Mr. Rosano is involved in a legal battle involving his refusal to fund the slaughter of the innocents. In his case, he has refused to cooperate with an employee-provided group health insurance plan which pays for procured abortions. I'm no lawyer, and will not claim to know more than a little about this case. Rather, I invite anyone interested to read Lawrence's own words at his blog, with links to others in a similar vein.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

From table to chair

This post, long overdue, follows up on two previous posts. Here's the synopsis:

Our Superior, WI diocesan paper, The Catholic Herald, was regularly publishing a number of softly heretical items, the most inane being Fr. Richard McBrien's weekly column. In April 2007, we wrote a letter of complaint on this which was published, but when several liberal readers responded with complaints about our complaint, we were not allowed to reply further. (This is quite puzzling, since the opposition's mantra was that of allowing a free exchange of diverse ideas.) The May 2007 blog post entitled "Roundtable" was an attempt to provide a forum in which folks on both sides of this issue could debate openly. The debate question: Should Catholic publications embrace diversity of thought, or teach Catholic truth clearly?

Well, a few loyal Catholics joined the discussion, but no one on the staff of the Herald, nor anyone in sympathy with the McBrien agenda bothered to come and defend their viewpoints, so it was a fairly one-sided table, and the "debate" soon petered out. (Ref. "Folding table".)

Speaking of Peter: that summer, a new bishop, Peter Christenson, was consecrated and appointed to the Superior diocese. This past summer, after one year of getting to know the diocese, this successor to the Apostles acted, and the McBrien column was quietly dropped, thanks be to God.

You Catholics already know that the bishop's cathedra is not a chair of repose, but of Apostolic authority, traceable to the authority of Jesus himself. This is an essential Catholic strength. As a Catholic son, I must say that tables may be OK, round or otherwise, but a solid chair is so much better.