In the wake of the fallout produced by the release of multiple Planned Parenthood videos proving that the organization is profiting from the sale of aborted baby bodies and parts, feminists are beginning to fight back and to do so under the oft repeated claim that they are motivated by the need to protect and promote women's health.
Just this week, two women, reportedly driven by this need, have gone to extreme and radical lengths, to raise awareness.
“The pill is the only drug that was developed to be given to a woman who was healthy to create a diseased state.”
Dr. Marguerite Duane, a family physician and professor at Georgetown University School of Medicine, describes perfectly the contradiction — the conundrum — that has existed since the advent of the modern oral contraceptive — the pill — some six decades ago.
Oral contraception is almost universally prescribed today, despite the fact that its dangers are now indisputable. The World Health Organization places the estrogen-progestogen pill on its list of Group 1 carcinogens, the most toxic rating it can impose, even as governments, international agencies and pharmaceutical companies push countries across the globe to embrace a contraceptive culture.
Many physicians, pharmacists and biologists have warned about the risks to women’s health posed by oral contraceptives, but their concerns have been ignored or suppressed by groups determined to use the pill as a tool of ideology, money and power.
One of the greatest surprises, for example, is that while it is one of the most heavily prescribed drugs in the world, oral contraceptives have almost never been the subject of medical and research experts coming together to discuss what exactly contraceptives do to the human body — most so women’s bodies. That fact alone made the research symposium entitled “Contraceptive Conundrum,” held in conjunction with the Edmund D. Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at Georgetown University on Aug. 8, so remarkable. As Dr. Kevin Donovan, director of the Georgetown Bioethics Center, said at the opening of the symposium, part of the goal of hearing from first-class researchers on oral contraceptives was to correct this massive gap in scientific inquiry.
There are, of course, profound moral questions pertaining to the use of contraception, but there is also an obligation to encourage the scientific and medical community to grapple with the mounting evidence of the impact of the pill on health.
Hormonal contraceptives are tied to lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases and blood clots. Even more alarming are the documented medical realities that women who take oral contraceptives face, as they are twice as likely to develop cervical cancer and 10 to 30 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who never took the pill, a risk that lasts for more than a decade after a woman ceases to use the drugs.
The many disturbing risks were detailed at the start of the symposium by Dr. Chandler Marrs, who wrote a report, “Birth Control, Big Money and Bad Medicine: a Deadly Trifecta for Women’s Health.” A noted research scientist, writer and women’s health advocate, Marrs argued that “we underestimate the risks of synthetic hormones by ignoring the vast reach hormones have on health.” And yet, as her talk documented, the vast majority of women between the ages of 25-44 are prescribed contraceptives by their physicians as a panacea for virtually every health problem even though the pill does not actually treat most of those conditions. Prescribing contraception for such a wide variety of medical issues makes, she says, no pharmacological sense, but she spoke convincingly about the dominance of the pharmaceutical industry in encouraging the world-wide distribution of the pill without detailing its many side effects.
There is much more and if you're a woman, or a man who cares about women, you'd be doing good things by reading the entire thing and passing it along.
The war against women, which in reality, is a war against humanity, is real and I think Pope John Paul II describes that war more than adequately:
“The heart has become a battlefield between love and lust. The more lust dominates the heart, the less the heart experiences the nuptial meaning of the body. It becomes less sensitive to the gift of the person, which expresses that meaning in the mutual relations of the man and woman.”
By now you've heard about Cecil the lion. About how he was killed with a bow and arrow. About how he was lured out of the national park that was his home by his eventual killer, an American dentist named Walter Palmer.
The dentist is being vilified in social media for the heinous act.
Walter Palmer has said he "deeply regrets" killing the 13-year-old lion, who was found shot, skinned and decapitated beyond the safety of the Hwange National Park, where he had been a drawcard for tourists.
The apology has fallen flat on Twitter where the hashtag #WalterPalmer is being used to hurl insults and threats at the dentist, who allegedly paid at least $50,000 to hunt and kill the animal.
"A poor excuse of a human being." "A killer." "Satan."
Twitter insults were hurled by model Cara Delevingne, actress Alyssa Milano and presenter Sharon Osbourne, who between them have 8.39 million followers.
Osbourne, wife of famed rocker Ozzie Osbourne, also tweeted that she hoped that Palmer "loses his home, his practice and his money..."
All are potentially likely given the flood of comments being posted to the "Yelp" review page for River Bluff Dental, Palmer's dental practice in Minnesota.
"I needed a tooth extracted, so Dr. Palmer shot me in the neck with a crossbow, chased and tracked me for 40 hours, and (once I collapsed from pain and exhaustion) removed my entire head and skinned me," wrote Drew C.
Sarah H. wrote: "I'll admit, a trip to the dentist has never been my favorite, but I can't imagine a more horrific experience than waking up to realize a penny of my hard-earned money had gone to assist this man in his heartless pursuit of micropenile compensation."
The outrage storm will likely continue into next week and beyond. Count on that.
They voice their shock and indignation at a lion being killed with a bow and arrow and yet are largely silent about babies being killed with blunt instruments in the womb by Planned Parenthood.
They voice their fury and anger at a lion being skinned and beheaded for sport and money and yet are largely silent about baby parts being ripped from the bodies of the unborn and sold to the unscrupulous for money.
They voice their disgust and disapproval at their hard-earned money going to assist a man and his heartless pursuit of animals and yet are largely silent about their hard-earned money going to the federal government who in turn grant half a billion dollars to Planned Parenthood and their heartless pursuit of the unborn.
You think it coincidental that events surrounding a Cecil and a Cecile are making the rounds and that one is garnering much more attention than the other? You think the juxtaposition of these stories and what that juxtaposition reveals about soicety is coincidental?
You keep thinking that.
The world is flipped upside down. Its sense of right and wrong completely skewed. There is something deeply perverted and distorted about what is taking place and I believe Someone is trying to show us how badly we've gone astray.
The story about a dearly loved lion who is skinned and beheaded for sport is rightly upsetting but that story pales in comparison to the story of dearly loved children in the womb being torn limb from limb for money every day. If the former upsets you while the latter does not, understand fully that there is something deeply amiss with your soul.
The undercover footage catches the Vice President and Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) in Denver, Colorado, Dr. Savita Ginde. PPRM is one of the largest and wealthiest Planned Parenthood affiliates and operates abortion clinics and abortion referral centers in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nevada.
Standing in the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic pathology laboratory, where the bodies of babies are brought after abortions, Ginde concludes that payment per organ removed from an aborted baby will be the most beneficial to Planned Parenthood: “I think a per-item thing works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it.”
The sale or purchase of human fetal tissue is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $500,000 (42 U.S.C. 289g-2), though the law is riddled with loopholes that essentially allow such sales.
The second part of the new video catches Dr. Katherine Sheehan, Medical Director emerita of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest in San Diego, who describes her affiliate’s long-time relationship with Advanced Bioscience Resources, a middleman company that has been providing aborted fetal organs since 1989.
She says: “We’ve been using them for over 10 years, really a long time, you know, just kind of renegotiated the contract. They’re doing the big government-level collections and things like that.”
More at the link, including the video which to date I'm refusing to watch. As a grandfather who was there at the birth of our beautiful little Amelia just 14 months ago, I'm deciding for now not to view it.
The man apparently has no qualms about any of this.
We're left to rationalize the behavior... we're left with trying to understand how in hell anyone can be involved in the tearing apart of infants in the womb... we're left with trying to fathom the sorting of their tiny body parts and the eventual selling of said parts on the market.
Now it is easy enough to remark and lament the moral coarseness of these women, the particularly repulsive way that they combine violence and greed. But I would like to explore a deeper issue that these videos bring to light, namely, the forgetfulness of the dignity of the human being that is on ever clearer display in our Western culture. One has only to consider the over 58,000,000 abortions that have taken place, under full protection of the law, in our country since Roe v. Wade in 1973, or the ever more insistent push toward permitting euthanasia, even of children in some European countries, or the wanton killing going on nightly in the streets of our major cities. The figures in my home town of Chicago typically surpass those recorded in the battle grounds of the Middle East.
What makes this sort of startling violence against human beings possible, I would submit, is the attenuation of our sense of God’s existence. In the classical Western perspective, the dignity of the human person is a consequence and function of his or her status as a creature of God. Precisely because the human being is made in the image and likeness of the Creator and destined, finally, for eternal life on high with God, he is a subject of inalienable rights. I use Jefferson’s language from the Declaration of Independence on purpose here, for the great founding father knew that the absolute nature of the rights he was describing follows from their derivation from God: “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…” When God is removed from the picture, human rights rather rapidly evanesce, which can be seen with clarity in both ancient times and modern. For Cicero, Aristotle, and Plato, a cultural elite enjoyed rights, privileges, and dignity, while the vast majority of people were legitimately relegated to inferior status, some even to the condition of slavery. In the totalitarianisms of the last century—marked in every case by an aggressive dismissal of God—untold millions of human beings were treated as little more than vermin.
I realize that many philosophers and social theorists have tried to ground a sense of human dignity in something other than God, but these attempts have all proven fruitless. For instance, if human worth is a function of a person’s intelligence or creativity or imagination, or her capacity to enter into friendship, then why not say that this worth disappears the moment those powers are underdeveloped, weakened, or eliminated altogether? Or if respect for human dignity is related to the strength of one’s feeling for another person, then who is to say that that dignity vanishes once one’s sentiments change or dry up? My suspicion is that if we interrogated people on the street and asked them why human beings should be respected, some version of this argument from sentimentality would emerge. But again, the problem is that feelings are so ephemeral, shifting and changing like the wind. If you doubt me, read some of the accounts of the officers and soldiers in the Nazi death camps, who, after years of killing, lost all feeling for those they were murdering, seeing them as little more than rats or insects.
For the past two hundred years, atheists have been loudly asserting that the dismissal of God will lead to human liberation. I would strenuously argue precisely the contrary. Once the human being is untethered from God, he becomes, in very short order, an object among objects, and hence susceptible to the grossest manipulation by the powerful and self-interested.
I'll entertain other rationales for this... I'm open to hearing them... but Fr. Barron I think has opined what I firmly believe to be the true one.
These people are soulless, Godless individuals who have, over time, worked up a callous over their spirits. It will take a miracle to change them, to allow them to see the wrongness of what it is they're involved in.
It's one thing in my view to suggest there are serious problems with what social programs today have become, a suggestion to which I'd nod my head in agreement more times than I wouldn't. The ineptness, the corruption, the dependencies created are all reasons for reform but should social programs go away entirely? Are they in fact, sinful?
The Church has been skeptical of the growth of the welfare state over time. In Centesimus Annus, John Paul II criticized the welfare state on the grounds that it usurped what is properly reserved to individuals, families, and local communities. This criticism is often invoked not only as a sort of final word for Catholics on welfare, but also as an endorsement of a laissez-faire approach to social and economic issues.
But John Paul II goes on to make two things quite clear: first, that the modern welfare state that he’s criticizing does not constitute a blanket condemnation of all welfare policies, especially of the sort initially promoted by Bismarck or even the American liberals of the 1930s. Second, in keeping with Pius XI, he argues that individualism is not the antidote to excessive statism but is in fact another force as hostile to the notion of solidarity and charity as the welfare state is to the principle of subsidiarity.
As he writes:
The individual today is often suffocated between two poles represented by the State and the marketplace. At times it seems as though he exists only as a producer and consumer of goods, or as an object of State administration. People lose sight of the fact that life in society has neither the market nor the State as its final purpose, since life itself has a unique value which the State and the market must serve.
Given all of this, I sometimes wonder about the blanket conservative rejection of the welfare state. If charity is superior to welfare, why is it not more widely practiced to the point where welfare would be entirely superfluous? Is it because people assume that there is a welfare state to take care of problems they would love to take care of themselves through their own charitable donations, but see no need to? Or is it because the atomization of society through the operations of an amoral marketplace has created a society that, to use John Paul II’s term, has become “personalized”? If charity is not forthcoming from a society of individualistic consumers, how else are the poor and desperate to find the relief they need?
I am not an ardent supporter of the welfare state, insofar as it treads upon those areas of social life that would violate the principle of subsidiary. At the same time, however, there are certain needs and rights that would not be met even in the minimum if all state assistance were to dry up tomorrow. It often appears to those of us who support at least some welfare provisions that those who oppose them in an angry, categoricalsense are simply concerned about their own bank accounts, forgetting entirely the Christian teaching (in both Scripture and Tradition) about the nature and purpose of wealth. It was summarized by Pius XI:
[A] person’s superfluous income, that is, income which he does not need to sustain life fittingly and with dignity, is not left wholly to his own free determination. Rather the Sacred Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church constantly declare in the most explicit language that the rich are bound by a very grave precept to practice almsgiving, beneficence, and munificence.
One may legitimately ask whether the government should play any role in seeing that a person uses his extra income as it ought to be used. The idea of “forced charity” is a contradiction in terms. However, how can we ever ensure that charity is actually performed without admonishing the sinner? Far from admonishing, there are many who lavish endless praise on the excessively wealthy and appear more concerned with safeguarding their money than with the condition of the poor or the integrity of society. What the wealthy do with their money is often of far less concern to them than whether or not a poor person harbors an envious thought towards them. These priorities are skewed.
Distributism in the Aristotelian and Catholic tradition is the answer to the twin evils of consumerist selfishness and isolation, as well as over-dependence on a powerful government. It is the key to regenerating the community and its economy, strengthening the position of the family, creating a local infrastructure to support a Culture of Life, and better managing the wild swings of the global marketplace.
When it leads to dependence, laziness, and the usurpation of the legitimate role of local institutions, welfare is indeed both harmful and sinful. But if through wise policies it can be made to strengthen those institutions and make them more competent in their tasks, then complaints about redistribution of excessive wealth — clearly understood as wealth beyond what one needs to maintain a dignified life — ring hollow. Such policies in truth ask so little and promise so much that it would be irrational not to try them.
In the end there is no difference between the conservative who wants total freedom with respect to wealth and the liberal who wants the same with respect to sexuality. Both argue that society shouldn’t use coercion to ensure a moral result in the area of life where they would like freedom to sin. Both are sure that while God would insist that one be regulated by the secular authorities, the other is left to personal conscience. While abortion is a more grave matter than clinging to personal wealth, the same flawed argument is used to defend it: It’s my body, it’s my wealth, it’s my property. But all things belong to God, be they children or wealth, and are merely entrusted to us to be used for the common good.
Hargrave's piece is worth reading in its entirety, particularly for the faithful Catholic, the serious Christian, the committed believer. It's an interesting and much needed perspective, one that should become part of any debate focused on government social programs and the need for welfare, particularly as the Presidential race heats up.
But there’s a second problem with this claim. It assumes that the Bible is essentially a rule book full of Thou Shalt Not’s. But it’s missing that both Jesus and St. Paul present a positive view of marriage. That is, Scripture shows us what marriage is, which is why we can also say what it isn’t.
This is important, because as we saw from the attempts to work around St. Paul’s prohibitions, the same-sex marriage side is essentially arguing: “but here’s an arrangement nobody had thought of back then!” With a positive view of what marriage is, we can easily establish whether some new sexual variation is compatible with marriage or not.
As part of a good Facebook thread on this topic, my friend Peter Ascik (a seminarian for the Diocese of Charlotte) explains:
Jesus does indeed comment directly on the nature of marriage in Matthew 19, and he reaffirms that marriage is founded on the sexual difference of man and woman (Matt 19:4-5), which is itself grounded in God’s creation of humanity in his image (Gen 1:27; Gen 2:24). St. Paul reaffirms the foundation of marriage in the doctrine of creation, again grounding it in the sexual difference of man and woman, (Ephesians 5:31-32), and teaches that it is a symbol of Christ’s union with the Church.
Jesus and St. Paul explicitly teach a doctrine of marriage that is incompatible with gay marriage. Even if Leviticus and Romans were silent on the subject of homosexual acts, the New Testament teaching that marriage is founded in the creation of male and female would be enough to reject same-sex marriage.
And Princeton’s Prof. Robert George chimed in to point out that this witness to marriage doesn’t start in the New Testament, and isn’t confined to Christianity:
The Biblical witness to marriage as a conjugal relationship first appears in Genesis 2. It is restated in various places, including in the teaching of Jesus. The same basic idea appears in the thought of Greek and Roman thinkers and even some teachers from the Eastern traditions. What, in fact, makes no sense is the idea of non-conjugal marriage–marriage as mere sexual-romantic companionship or domestic partnership. That explains why it has no patronage in the great faiths or traditions of philosophy.
George’s contribution is also important because it’s a reminder that even though you can’t be an orthodox Christian or Jew and accept gay marriage, you can reject gay marriage for entirely non-religious reasons. All you have to do is understand what marriage is, or understand that men and women are different, and that children deserve a mother and a father. Believing in Scripture will get you to that point, but you can get there apart from Scripture (or faith) as well.
So the gay marriage view that’s supposed to show that we’re a bunch of Biblical hypocrites more accurately shows that the best argument against Jews, Christians, and anyone holding to any of the great philosophical traditions, is just to shout us down and call us nasty names.
Of course, I skipped completely over Shameless Popery's shameless dismantling of the flowchart so do yourself a favor and go read the whole thing, then do society the favor the next time someone shoves this or similar flowcharts in your face or when they smugly remark, "Jesus never said anything about gay marriage... or homosexuality"and point them to this piece.
Thank you. And thank the good folks over SP. Great stuff over there.
Profile photo flag pledge wars have broken out on Facebook.
There are a plethora of Confederate flags, American flags, and since Friday morning's SCOTUS decision redefining marriage, quite the number of rainbow flags. Many Catholics (including yours truly) have responded to the latter by flying and pledging to the Vatican flag.
Why do I choose to “pledge allegiance” to this flag as opposed to the other flags I showed here?
Because before anything else, I am a Catholic. I’ve said before that I see being Catholic as something bigger than myself. It transcends beyond my gender, my race, the kinds of people I find attractive, and even the fandoms that I obsess over. The Catholic Church is the glue that binds the pieces of me together. Like Peter, I have a horrible tendency to let my passions overrule being sensible, which ends up with me coming off like a thick-headed idiot. I have the best of intentions, but end up falling short because of the actions I choose. And yet, Jesus chose Peter to be the head of his Church, the foundation that would give way to an entire legacy of popes and bishops and priests who worked hard to make the Church what it is today.
The Church is by no means perfect. Neither am I, for that matter. But through Christ, the Church and I continue to improve and grow. Like Paul, we are filled with a zeal that drives us to go around the world proclaiming the Gospel. We have a missionary spirit that can’t be stopped. We may not say what everyone likes to hear, but at the same time, these things need to be said. Jesus chose Paul, a man who spent time persecuting and killing Christians thinking he was doing the right thing. After his conversion, Paul preached compassion, but he also preached about having integrity.
So when you see this flag over my face, know that I am not doing it to set up some kind of us against the world dichotomy. I’m doing it to show who my heart ultimately belongs to. I pledge allegiance to the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.
Just last week, I had the privilege of spending four hours in the Sistine Chapel with my Word on Fire team. Toward the end of our filming, the director of the Vatican Museums, who had accompanied us throughout the process, asked whether I wanted to see the “Room of Tears.” This is the little antechamber, just off of the Sistina, where the newly-elected Pope repairs in order to change into his white cassock. Understandably, tears begin to flow in that room, once the poor man realizes the weight of his office.
Inside the small space, there were documents and other memorabilia, but what got my attention was a row of impressive albs, chasubles, and copes worn by various Popes across the years. I noticed the specially decorated cope of Pope Pius VI, who was one of the longest serving Pontiffs in history, reigning from 1775 to 1799. Pius was an outspoken opponent of the French Revolution and its bloody aftermath—and his forthrightness cost him dearly. French troops invaded Italy and demanded that the Pope renounce his claim to the Papal States. When he refused, he was arrested and imprisoned in a citadel in Valence, where he died six weeks later. In the room of tears, there was also a stole worn by Pius VI’s successor, Pius VII. This Pope Pius also ran afoul of the French, who, under Napoleon, invaded Italy in 1809 and took him prisoner. During his grim exile, he did manage to get off one of the greatest lines in Papal history. Evidently, Napoleon himself announced to the Pope that he was going to destroy the Church, to which Pius VII responded, “Oh my little man, you think you’re going to succeed in accomplishing what centuries of priests and bishops have tried and failed to do!”
Both popes find themselves, of course, in a long line of Church people persecuted by the avatars of the regnant culture. In the earliest centuries of the Church’s life, thousands—including Peter, Paul, Agnes, Cecelia, Clement, Felicity, Perpetua, Sebastian, Lawrence, and Cyprian—were brutally put to death by officials of the Roman Empire. In the fourth century, St. Ambrose was opposed by the emperor Theodosius; in the eleventh century, Pope Gregory VII locked horns with the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV; in the nineteenth century, Bismarck waged a Kulturkampf against the Catholic Church in Germany, and in the twentieth century, more martyrs gave their lives for the faith than in all the previous centuries combined.
Now why am I rehearsing this rather sad history? In the wake of the United States Supreme Court decision regarding gay marriage, a not inconsiderable number of Catholics feel beleaguered and more than a little afraid. Their fear comes from the manner in which the decision was framed and justified. Since same-sex marriage is now recognized as a fundamental human right guaranteed by the Constitution, those who oppose it can only be characterized as bigots animated by an irrational prejudice. To be sure, Justice Kennedy and his colleagues assure us that those who have religious objections to same-sex marriage will be respected, but one wonders how such respect is congruent with the logic of the decision. Would one respect the owners of a business who refuse to hire black people as a matter of principle? Would not the government, in point of fact, be compelled to act against those owners? The proponents of gay marriage have rather brilliantly adopted the rhetoric of the civil rights movement, precisely so as to force this conclusion. And this is why my mentor, the late Francis Cardinal George, so often warned against the incursions of an increasingly aggressive secular state, which, he argued, will first force us off the public stage into privacy and then seek to criminalize those practices of ours that it deems unacceptable.
He's not done yet and in fact proffers up some answers to the question, what should Catholics do? Well worth your time to read his suggestions.
My email is full of people wringing their hands and fretting — really fretting — “how do we fix this? What to do, what to do, what to do?”
What do people mean, when they say they want to “fix” this situation? They mean they want it to be not so; they want to turn the clock back, shove the genie back into the bottle, and the toothpaste into the tube; they want to return to the realities of a few decades ago, when “tolerance” meant “put up with” and the religious right seemed ascendant.
“Fix it, Daddy,” said Zuzu, when her flower petal fell. George Bailey, knowing a fix was impossible, presented instead a gentle illusion of reparation and fullness, as he slipped the fallen petal into his pocket, and handed the bloom back to his little girl.
Zuzu was content with illusion, but we cannot be. There is no “fix it” to this story, and only the truly deluded will continue to assert that there is. When people are awarded new rights, they do not get taken away again, except through a tyranny of governance, which no one wants to see.
Whether those who have lived with rights they have been born to — “privileged” to enjoy, if you like, from the moment of constitutional conception, will lose them under a tyranny of social correctness and eventual legal wrangling is an interesting question. Having enjoyed the right to the free exercise of religion lo, these centuries, we Catholics are already seeing calls for a diminishment of that right, from “freedom of religion” to a mere “freedom of worship”. Says New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni:
I respect people of faith. I salute the extraordinary works of compassion and social justice that many of them and many of their churches do. . .And I support the right of people to believe what they do and say what they wish — in their pews, homes and hearts.
It makes me think one thing: people, leaders, entrepreneurs that call themselves Christians, and produce arms! This gives some mistrust: they call themselves Christians! “No, no, Father, I don’t produce them, no, no …. I only have my savings, my investments in arms factories.” Ah! And why? “Because the interest is somewhat higher …” And a double face is also a current coin today: to say something and do another. Hypocrisy …l But let’s see what happened in the last century: in ’14, ’15, in ’15 in fact. There was that great tragedy in Armenia. So many died. I don’t know the figure: more than a million certainly. But where were the great powers of the time? Were they looking elsewhere? Why? Because they were interested in war: their war! And those that died were persons, second class human beings. Then, in the 30s and 40s the tragedy of the Shoah. The great powers had photographs of the railroad lines that took trains to the concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, to kill the Jews, and also Christians, also the Roma, also homosexuals, to kill them there. But tell me, why didn’t they bomb that? Interest! And shortly after, almost contemporaneously, were the lager in Russia: Stalin … How many Christians suffered, were killed! The great powers divided Europe among themselves as a cake. So many years had to pass before arriving at “certain” freedom. It’s that hypocrisy of speaking of peace and producing arms, and even selling arms to this one who is at war with that one, and to that one who is at war with this one!
Is the Pope rolling around on the podium, tormented by a hawk on one shoulder and a dove on the other? No. Rather, there are several important language and thought patterns being used here that we need to recognize and understand.
1. “High Context” vs. “Low Context” Speech
When we say someone’s manner of speaking is “high context” what we mean is that there’s a whole backstory you need to know if you want to understand the real message. “Low Context” means that everything is completely spelled out for you. The statement stands alone, crystal clear.
Some cultures are well-known for being “high context.” Communication is subtle. You’re expected to read between the lines. People who don’t “get it” are considered a bit thick. They try your patience. High-context speech works well if the people communicating have the common experience necessary to pass subtle cues. This is why my older sister and I used to be able to win Pictionary every time: We could draw on a whole lifetime of references to inside jokes, family stories, and preferred words and phrases to quickly get a point across.
Americans as a nation use “low context” speech. We’re a nation of immigrants, and that massive diversity means that your neighbor probably doesn’t know what you’re referring to in your subtle hints or witty references. You have to spell everything out. We dislike jargon, we resent people who won’t say plainly what they mean, and we expect you to mean what you say and say what you mean.
Interestingly, though, American Internet Catholics are a high-context people. We have a whole collection of cultural references that quickly paint a picture of what we mean. Say, “the Spirit of Vatican II,” and an astute reader will look at the source (National Catholic Reporter or National Catholic Register?) and know exactly what is being implied, no further explanation necessary.
Because AIC’s live in this dual world, when someone uses a high-context reference to mean something other than what it usually (to us) implies, we expect it to be spelled out. If you tell someone on the internet, “I’m a social justice Catholic,” you know that you have to quickly say, “who is faithful to the magisterium of the Catholic Church!” unless you wish to be taken for someone who picks and chooses among the doctrines of the faith. Our high-context habits require low-context speaking to clarify anytime we deviate from code.
This creates a huge conflict with Pope Francis: He’s a high-context speaker, but who is using a completely different set of contexts than we American Internet Catholics are used to. His frame of reference is the deposit of the faith and his decades of living between two worlds: The richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. We AIC’s are used to questioning whether someone believes and accepts the entirety of the Catholic faith; Pope Francis takes it for granted that it’s his job to promulgate the fullness of truth. We AIC’s are used to moral discussions focused on our particular corner of the world; the Pope is often referring to circumstances utterly unlike our own.
The shrill and ignorant responses to Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si continue to pour in and sadly most of those I'm seeing are coming from those I'm usually allied with. What follows is from a comment left on Friday's Wizbang post:
Because of his complete rebuttal of the concepts explicitly stated in the Holy Bible including dominion granted to man, as well as man's standing as God's foremost creation; because of his reliance of the statements of historical popes rather than the revealed Word; because of the unbiblical personification of God's created earth and heavenly bodies; and because of his penchant, even in speaking of the work of creation, to prefer the findings of science over the revelation of scripture, I deem the current pope not a liberal, socialist, or communist, but rather a heretic. May God have mercy on him and the Catholic Church, and may God make Himself known in the redemption of that great body of believers.
Here are the Pope's alleged 'heretical' comments taken directly from the encyclical:
67. We are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us. This allows us to respond to the charge that Judaeo-Christian thinking, on the basis of the Genesis account which grants man “dominion” over the earth (cf. Gen 1:28), has encouraged the unbridled exploitation of nature by painting him as domineering and destructive by nature. This is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church. Although it is true that we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures. The biblical texts are to be read in their context, with an appropriate hermeneutic, recognizing that they tell us to “till and keep” the garden of the world (cf. Gen 2:15). “Tilling” refers to cultivating, ploughing or working, while “keeping” means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving. This implies a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature. Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations. “The earth is the Lord’s” (Ps 24:1); to him belongs “the earth with all that is within it” (Dt 10:14). Thus God rejects every claim to absolute ownership: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with me” (Lev25:23).
68. This responsibility for God’s earth means that human beings, endowed with intelligence, must respect the laws of nature and the delicate equilibria existing between the creatures of this world, for “he commanded and they were created; and he established them for ever and ever; he fixed their bounds and he set a law which cannot pass away” (Ps 148:5b-6). The laws found in the Bible dwell on relationships, not only among individuals but also with other living beings. “You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and withhold your help… If you chance to come upon a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting upon the young or upon the eggs; you shall not take the mother with the young” (Dt22:4, 6). Along these same lines, rest on the seventh day is meant not only for human beings, but also so “that your ox and your donkey may have rest” (Ex 23:12). Clearly, the Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures.
69. Together with our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly, we are called to recognize that other living beings have a value of their own in God’s eyes: “by their mere existence they bless him and give him glory”, and indeed, “the Lord rejoices in all his works” (Ps 104:31). By virtue of our unique dignity and our gift of intelligence, we are called to respect creation and its inherent laws, for “the Lord by wisdom founded the earth” (Prov 3:19). In our time, the Church does not simply state that other creatures are completely subordinated to the good of human beings, as if they have no worth in themselves and can be treated as we wish. The German bishops have taught that, where other creatures are concerned, “we can speak of the priority of being over that of being useful”. The Catechism clearly and forcefully criticizes a distorted anthropocentrism: “Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection… Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things”.
Notice the many Scriptural references. Notice how beautifully it's woven together. Did you notice anything resembling heresy? I did not. Now I'll allow some may have issues with the interpretation... but heresy? Please.
“Essentially what this papal encyclical is suggesting is that every Catholic should vote for the Democrat [SIC] Party,” Limbaugh ranted last week. “How in the hell else do you interpret it when the pope comes out and sounds like Al Gore on global warming and climate change?”
“This is one of the great blessings of America,” Wuerl replied with a smile. “We’re all allowed to speak our mind even if we don’t have all the facts, even if we don’t have a clear view of what the other person is saying. We’re all allowed to speak our mind, and that’s what he’s doing.”
“I think what the pope is doing is something very, very different from that,” he continued. “He’s saying, why don’t we all discuss this, why don’t we come to the table and before we start eliminating other people from the discussion or renouncing them or even ridiculing them, why don’t we listen to them and see what they’re saying and see where we really ought to be going as a human family?”
There are lots of folks speaking their minds these days absent any real facts and certainly any clarity and the best way to recognize them is in seeing how they deal less with the substance of what the Pope has written and more with using ad hominems to describe who in their minds they believe him to be.
Don't be fooled by those whose religion is largely politically sourced and ideologically driven.