December 2012 Archives
December 1, 2012
Pro-life suites: So--You're "pro-life for born children," are you?
We've all heard it until we're tired of it. The liberal says, "Oh, you pro-lifers only care about fetuses. I'm pro-life in the sense that I care about born children." Even some Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, use it to excuse their supporting the Party of Death. I just saw another, recent article the other day responding to these facile tropes (a Catholic responding to Catholics), though right now I can't relocate the link.
For the moment (though really, this shouldn't be waived indefinitely), I'll waive the fact that the economic and welfare policies of the Party of Death are not actually good for "born children" or born people generally.
What about this? Medical workers are beginning to speak out in the UK about the application of the infamous death-by-dehydration Liverpool Care Pathway to infants and children. A couple of hair-raising quotations:
One doctor has admitted starving and dehydrating ten babies to death in the neonatal unit of one hospital alone. Writing in a leading medical journal, the physician revealed the process can take an average of ten days during which a baby becomes ‘smaller and shrunken’.
Bernadette Lloyd, a hospice paediatric nurse, has written to the Cabinet Office and the Department of Health to criticise the use of death pathways for children. ‘I have also seen children die in terrible thirst because fluids are withdrawn from them until they die’ She said: ‘The parents feel coerced, at a very traumatic time, into agreeing that this is correct for their child whom they are told by doctors has only has a few days to live. It is very difficult to predict death. I have seen a “reasonable” number of children recover after being taken off the pathway.
‘I have also seen children die in terrible thirst because fluids are withdrawn from them until they die. I witnessed a 14 year-old boy with cancer die with his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth when doctors refused to give him liquids by tube. His death was agonising for him, and for us nurses to watch.
There is more at this link, but try to ignore all the tacky pictures in the margins. (Side note: Why do UK news web sites, some with very important articles, have to include such awful photos from other stories all around the edge?)
December 3, 2012
Some men kiss their chains
There is little else clearer in today’s politics than the fact that what we have encouraged, supported, and even fought and died for in the Middle East are not liberal democracies. Women, secularists, and Christians are increasingly harassed, and even within the predominant regional culture itself we see smaller Islamic, tribal, and ethnic minorities persecuted every day. Our notion that the overthrow of autocracy and the coming of democracy meant also the coming of freedom was simply wrong. Yes, we neoconservatives could point to the liberation of Eastern Europe from Soviet hegemony, or liberal democracy-building in Germany and Japan after World War II, or even the wonderful success of the civil rights movement here in America to prove that all peoples wish to live in freedom. Yet those examples seem not to carry us to the facts that we see around us today.
But why? “Don’t all people yearn for freedom?” we have asked. And we assume the answer is yes. But the answer is no. Some people, perhaps most people, prefer other goods. Indeed, some people would rather be holy than free, or safe than free, or be instructed in how they should lead their lives rather than be free. Many prefer the comfort of strong answers already given rather than the openness and hazards of freedom. There are those who would never dream of substituting their will for the imam’s or pushing their desires over the customs and traditions of their families. Some men kiss their chains.
This is taken from a strong mea culpa written by John Agresto in the latest issue of Commentary magazine (I will quote liberally from the article in this post as it is only available to subscribers). Mr. Agresto can speak from serious experience as he served as senior adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the year following the liberation of Iraq and has subsequently been a founding member of the board of trustees, provost, acting chancellor, and dean of the faculty at the American University of Iraq, in Kurdish Iraq. According to Commentary, his book Mugged by Reality: The Liberation of Iraq and the Failure of Good Intentions (Encounter) contains the beginnings of this analysis that appears in the article.
The question for us today, especially for those of us like me who generally supported our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq to promote democracy (or to build consenual government, as Victor Davis Hanson likes to say*), is whether or not this was a fool's errand and the U.S. should have simply punished those responisble for 9/11, removed the threat to our security, and then installed some sort of local strongman with a warning to everyone that we'd do it again only worse if something like 9/11 happened again. More rubble, less trouble.
December 5, 2012
A case for throwing patients out in the streets
Occasionally when discussing horrors like this (the recent news of dehydration of infants and children in the current UK medical system), one will run into a liberal troll, who supports both the dehydration killings and a socialized medical system, who confidently pronounces, "If these people want their children to be kept alive, they are certainly free to pay extra for it and go to a private hospital instead."
There are many, many things wrong with this response, but as surely as God made little green apples, you will run into it somewhere, some time, if you point out the evil of these killings.
The first and easiest thing to point out that is wrong with this response is that it is probably factually false. Aside from the fact that private institutions may be prohibitively expensive, what evidence does the chipper leftist actually have that patients are not dehydrated to death in private hospitals? As far as I know, no evidence at all. The assertion is simply made. Considering the fact that hospitals all over America have been dehydrating patients to death for quite some time in a non-socialized system (even before Obamacare came along), the prospects for this assertion aren't terribly good. The bald statement that if only these folks would pony up they could get their relatives fed seems merely to make the liberal feel that he has racked up debating points, especially as it's allegedly some sort of "score" against a pro-life opponent who also thinks socialized medicine a bad idea. It does not appear to be based on evidence.
I think we can say with a great deal of confidence that the families of patients in the NHS are not being told, "Hey, for an extra twenty thousand Euros or so, we'll keep feeding your child/parent/spouse." In fact, that would, I think we can guess, be regarded as bribery and corruption (and would be so regarded with some plausibility). So the statement, "If they'd pay for it, they could avoid this outcome" is not only shockingly bad ethics but also, very probably, false.
December 11, 2012
Against the retreat from the institution of marriage
This is a follow-up to this post, in which I articulated the important benefits, to the father-child bond in particular, of civil marriage.
Here I want to pick up on the subject, on the basis of a recent exchange in a different venue (specifically, Facebook, so the exchange isn't readily available), and discuss what I see as a rather serious danger to Christians' and other traditionalists' clarity of thought. This is a danger that arises from the move to ditch civil marriage and rely instead on common-law marriage and on private religious ceremonies. Not only would Christians, if they did this, unnecessarily relinquish important legal presumptions concerning fatherhood and parental rights and custody for any children. Not only would they unnecessarily lose other benefits (such as, for example, the marriage exclusion from the federal estate tax). And not only would they downgrade their own marriages in the eyes both of the civil authorities and of the world generally. It now appears to me that they could also become confused about the very nature of marriage itself and could begin not only to downgrade real marriage to the level of a live-in relationship (aka "shacking up") but simultaneously to think of live-in arrangements without true commitment as actually being marriages. This is a very serious matter indeed.
If you can stomach it, take a look at some of the pathetic comments by various women in this thread. The Crescat, a feisty Catholic blogger with whom I don't always agree but whom I almost always enjoy reading, gives this sensible advice in the main post: "If a man says he doesn't want to marry you, believe him." It's pretty obvious. So is, "And take appropriate evasive action." But apparently a lot, and I mean a lot, of women are willing to live with men and, worse, even have children with them, when the men refuse to get married. This is about as dumb as it gets as well as being terribly unfair to the children conceived. Evidently the women hope that the boyfriend will marry them "when he's ready," which could be, y'know, years and years and years, and will probably be never.
It used to be that we just called these arrangements "living together." Or even "shacking up." Or "living with your boyfriend." Etc.
However, I have heard recently of a Christian in a Western-style country, not the United States, who counseled a woman in such a relationship that, unbeknownst to her, she really was married in the eyes of God after all. At this point, I will add the following corollary to the above advice: "If a man says he isn't married to you, believe him." But that is apparently not so obvious to everyone. The argument that they were really married, even though the boyfriend said they weren't and the unhappy woman (and mother of several children by the boyfriend) had previously believed they weren't, went approximately like this:
There is not a necessary connection between civil marriage and true marriage. It is possible to be truly married in the eyes of God even if one isn't civilly married. Some Christians are even considering not getting civilly married as a kind of protest to homosexual 'marriage'. Common law recognizes relationships as marriages if they have remained stable for a particular period of time. The man was de facto committed to the woman because he had stayed with her and their children for a lengthy period of time. Therefore, even though he refused to make a formal, public commitment to her either in a religious or a civil ceremony, they really were married in the eyes of God.
I believe this is very misguided reasoning.
December 13, 2012
Against the retreat from the institution of marriage - part two
This post is actually only tangentially related to Lydia's last post, in that I want to touch on the broader phenomenon of Christians in the public square retreating from the robust defense of civil marriage. In my particular case, I had tuned into the Hugh Hewitt radio show the other night and came across Hugh discussing a controversial blog post written by Timothy Dalrymple, the editor of the Patheos evangelical web portal, who asked his readers if perhaps it was time for Christians to retreat from the defense of traditional marriage in the public square.
December 16, 2012
Bad news from Sweden
The most recent news regarding a (formerly) home schooling family in Sweden is so bad that it is painful even to have to pass it along. Some of my readers may have been following the years'-long case of the Johannsons in Sweden, whose son Domenic was dramatically kidnapped by Swedish officials several years ago as the family was boarding a plane to travel to India, which is the home country of Mrs. Johannson.
One occasionally reads of such dramatic government interventions when officials learn that parents are planning to take their daughters abroad to have them horribly mutilated. The Johannsons, on the other hand, were planning to take Domenic to India to continue home schooling him and to eat natural foods. Horrified at this prospect, the government seized Domenic, giving as a reason the plan to home school and the subsequent discovery of a couple of cavities.
Now the Swedish government has entirely revoked the parental rights of Annie and Christer Johannson. The ruling came, ironically, on so-called "Human Rights Day," Monday, December 10. I cannot emphasize too strongly that there are no allegations of abuse against these parents. The government is clearly insisting on making an example of them to prove its power and to send a message to other prospective home schooling parents that this is simply not allowed. (By the way, my understanding is that home schooling was formally not illegal at the time that Domenic was taken.)
The injustice to Christer, Annie, and Domenic done already can never be undone. Moreover, unless the Swedish Supreme Court reverses the lower court's ruling, this is just the beginning of years of separation during which Domenic will have to grow up without his beloved parents, who are not even allowed to see him.
While we Christians are praying for other parents who have had their children taken from them by unimaginable evil during this past week, let us also take some time to pray for the Johannsons--that God would bring them justice and reunite them, and that if, in His plan, that is not to happen, he would strengthen all of them. The mills of God grind slowly, and often we cannot understand why so very slowly. But God keeps the tally, and if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that great evil, done to the innocent, can escape His notice?
December 18, 2012
The Christendom Review
From Associate Editor William Luse:
"The new issue is out, here. Essays by Lydia McGrew and Beth Impson, poetry by Thomas DeFreitas and Lee Evans, and an affecting personal story about the first year of a marriage – and a pregnancy – by Millie Sweeny, who has contributed poetry in the past."
Previous issues can be purchased, and donations made, here as well.
December 19, 2012
Tell me again about how the left cares about the poor
The next time you hear some fuzzy-headed Christian tell you that he is a Democrat because the left cares about the poor, while the right doesn't, please point him to this story. The Little Sisters of the Poor (you savvy them?) are on the verge of having to suspend their operations in the United States because of the Obamacare HHS mandate. Unless the mandate is overturned or the religious exemption is forcibly expanded by SCOTUS, it looks like that is what is going to happen. Steve Skojec says,
When the sister speaking at the Mass I attended mentioned this, it both made me angry and broke my heart. When did we become a country mentioned in the same breath as nations known for oppression, human rights violations, and an environment hostile to freedom of conscience?We’ve all been fighting this battle against the coming darkness for quite some time, but something about this small, unassuming nun telling the parish that they would be forced to discontinue their care for the elderly poor, and even worse, to leave the country altogether, really drove it home. This is what it has come to. We are no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. We have become something else.
This is not the America I grew up in. This is not the America I want for my children. I want to recommend a course of action, some concrete thing that people can do to put a stop to this madness, but like the relentless evil of legal abortion that came before it, there’s only so much that can humanly be done. The only thing for it is to keep praying, keep fighting, and keep teaching our children what America was, and should be again.
One wonders: When people mouth platitudes about how the left cares for the little guy, have they been living in a cave? Do they know nothing about, for example, the shut-down of Catholic Charities' adoption services in Boston? Nothing of the threat right now to all manner of Christian charitable works from the HHS mandate? I fear that they are, in Anthony Esolen's apt phrase, "of the world but not in it." Will getting out more information make a difference? I don't know. But whether it does or not, it behooves us to have the information, to know the truth, and to teach it to our children.
Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother: And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart. But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Zechariah 7:9-11
Robert Bork, Rest in Peace
There have been so many excellent entries today on the inimitable Robert Bork, who has just passed away, that it would be gilding the lilies to try to do much more than link them. Here, Hadley Arkes soberly acknowledges the great loss to the country brought about by Bork's being unjustly denied a place on the Supreme Court, while at the same time Arkes does not hide his own differences of judicial philosophy with Bork. Here is the touching memoir of Bork as known by a former clerk. In this entry, Austin Ruse hypothesizes that Bork would not have converted to Christianity had he not been unjustly blocked from the Supreme Court. The conjecture is by no means implausible. About it, one can only say that in that case God brought good out of great evil.
The blocking of Bork from the court marked the beginning of an era. That era had as one of its salient characteristics the increasingly, blatantly partisan behavior and dirty fighting of the Democrats to block federal judicial nominees who would not come to the substantive policy conclusions desired by the left. It was in the context of the Clarence Thomas hearings that Robert Bork himself said to his think-tank colleague Irving Kristol, "Television is showing the end of Western civilization in living color." The other salient characteristic of this era of judicial nominations was the continued gentlemanliness of the Republicans: No hardball recess appointments, no roundabout ways of applying litmus tests or even making sure and certain of a candidate's general judicial philosophy, no serious refusal to confirm Democratic appointees to the federal bench, and the repeated, sometimes disastrous, nomination of dark horses. The result was inevitable: The federal judiciary, and especially SCOTUS, became more and more radically leftist. The Borking of Bork was the watershed. It was also a kind of trial balloon. Once the left realized it could get away with it, we were slouching towards Gomorrah at an ever-increased pace, at the highest levels of American government.
In this sense, Robert Bork represents--because the treatment he received represents--a dark and pivotal moment in our country's history. But that is by no means the sum total of the man. Bork was a voice of one crying in the wilderness. And in the end, he was a penitent (from his atheism) and a convert (to Christianity). Bork showed in his spiritual life that it is possible to turn around. It may not be possible for America to do so now, but we can pray that it is still possible. And we can work for repentance, one man at the time.
Rest eternal grant unto him, and may light perpetual shine upon him.
December 22, 2012
Pro-life suites: Some life issue links
Presumably people know that when they come to a site called "What's Wrong With the World" they are mostly going to hear bad news. This is inevitable and also very sad. We are now coming almost to Christmas, the time in which we remember that "the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." And let it here be said that the reason that we talk about the darkness is not to wallow in it nor to despair but rather to fight for health, goodness, and beauty--the love of parents, the innocence of children, the holiness of saints.
That being said, I feel mildly duty bound, before taking a little break from nay-saying (which I am sure will bring relief to all of us), to give those who don't read my personal blog one more budget of bad news on the front of various life issues.
December 23, 2012
Never far from view at Christmastime is the shadow of threat pressing hard upon innocence. A bloodthirsty tyrant hears news of a future king and out of his jealousy conceives a monstrous crime: the slaughter of all the infant boys in the region of Bethlehem.
In our day the assault on innocence is no less monstrous. Some of it is the occasion for public outrage, indignation, and grief; some of it is passed over in silence, or stealthily treated with a pseudo-science emollient to soften its harshness.
But the great power and joy of Christmas lies in its extraordinary reversal, with innocence at the center of it. Skeptics and freethinkers never tire of reading their solemn lectures on the innumerable antecedents for Yuletide in pagan festivals at the winter solstice, but the truth is that the Incarnation is a doctrine too paradoxical to admit of mortal origins. The Lord God Himself comes into the world as a helpless infant. The greatest strength is tied up in the most vulnerable weakness. True Kingship resides in a babe incapable of even the most basic voluntary action. As Chesterton put it, “the main business of the story,” “an ancient and admitted paradox,” “was that the absolute once ruled the universe from a cattle stall.”
A more squalid reversal lies in the transformation of this most domestic of holidays into a most tedious commercial one; all the notes of Christian particularity vanish, replaced by saccharine sentiment and odious jingles.
But the particularities can never be effaced. It is only in the particular details that the paradoxes are revealed in their fullness. And perhaps the most stirring detail is that shining innocence, shockingly exposed to all the callousness and malice of the weary world.
“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.” Until we recover the holy fear of shepherds, we shall not recover the true spirit of Christmas. For the Christ-child is fearsome. Judgment, too, is present in the Nativity. The assaults upon the innocent will not go unanswered. Justice will roll down like waters. Even now the martyrs cry out: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”
With apologies for these bare and inadequate reflections, we at What’s Wrong with the World wish our readers a very Merry Christmas.
December 28, 2012
A few days before Christmas Day I was shopping at my local Rite Aid store in their Christmas aisle. There, hanging right about at eye level (I'm short) were Christmas undies, gift suggestions, both his and hers. The female pair stated "I'm single" and then expressed, in rhyme, an eagerness to fornicate. The male pair, boxer shorts, were covered with a reiterated question which means, approximately, "How are you doing?" but asks it in much cruder terms.
I let this information percolate for a few days and then, encouraged by a Facebook friend, decided to make a winsome appeal to the counter girl on Christmas Eve, when I happened to be back in the store. Making it clear that I wasn't blaming her in the least and that I hated to make any complaint on Christmas Eve, I mentioned the offensive merchandise. She was very sympathetic to my point of view but said, frankly, "You'll have to call corporate." She explained that the local store is obligated to sell whatever "corporate" sends them and that "corporate" even sends spotters to make sure they aren't hiding the merchandise.
So I took a few days off from culture warring and then, on the 27th, called corporate. To their credit, within five minutes of having explained the situation to a customer service agent on the phone, I received the following e-mail from someone in middle management:
Dear Lydia Mcgrew- Thank you for your comment and concern. I have brought this to the attention of our corporate office for future buying purposes. We appreciate all our customers input and take that in to consideration when determining products that we carry. We try to satisfy all customers. I have relocated this merchandise in this store so it is not deemed offensive. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you in your shopping experience. As you requested email contact, if you would like to speak to me directly,please let me know or contact me at the office listed below.
December 30, 2012
Hobby Lobby goes to the mat
The showdown is here: We have a private company that is outright refusing to obey the Obamacare HHS mandate after having been denied an injunction while their lawsuit is pending. This is going to cost the owners of Hobby Lobby a pretty penny, bless 'em. I just hope they can survive it.
What perhaps someone can explain to me is the weird inconsistency among the different federal court regions with regard to granting injunctions to prevent private businesses from being crushed by fines while their suits are pending. Hercules Industries got an injunction while their suit is pending. Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc. just got an injunction in the last day or so. But Hobby Lobby has to be smooshed. Why? I assume it's because the particular circuit (the 10th) ruling on their case was less sympathetic than the courts who happened to examine the other cases. But SCOTUS denied an appeal for an emergency injunction for Hobby Lobby as well, and this paragraph concerning the Korte and Luitjohan case is a little puzzling:
Second, the court distinguished Justice Sotomayor’s recent decision not to grant Hobby Lobby emergency relief, rightly noting that Justice Sotomayor applied a much different standard:But the “demanding standard” for issuance of an extraordinary writ by the Supreme Court . . . differs significantly from the standard applicable to a motion for a stay or injunction pending appeal in this court. As Justice Sotomayor noted, the entitlement to relief must be “‘indisputably clear.’”
I'm not sure I'm getting that. It seems to be saying that the very same request--for an injunction to prevent grave harm while a suit is pending--is subject to a different evidential standard in federal courts depending on whether the court in question is the Supreme Court or a Circuit Court. Do I have that right? So if the 10th Circuit was more or less filled with biased liberal jerks exercising extremely poor legal judgement, and if this explains their refusal of an injunction, SCOTUS isn't supposed to second-guess the 10th Circuit and prevent irreparable harm to Hobby Lobby while their suit continues unless, well, unless something. Unless the wrongness of their refusing the injunction was even clearer to somebody or other (or enough somebodies or others) on SCOTUS than it is.
Meanwhile, if you need anything in the crafty line (alas, I am not remotely crafty), please go buy it at Hobby Lobby and show your support.