If there’s something we’ve learned from the fiasco last week with our leaders risking a government shutdown rather than let go of government funding for the nation’s largest abortion business, we’ve learned exactly what companies are supporting Planned Parenthood these days, in what it calls its “most intense short-term campaign, we have ever run.”
The existence of new religious apps for iPhone and Android, such as iMissal and the Confession app, reveal increasing numbers of people using their smart phones to assist them with religious practices. But they also present us with new questions about the acceptability of cellphone use in sacred space:
I had the pleasure of seeing the play Arrah-na-Pogue at New York’s Storm Theatre last night. Monica Weigel wrote a lovely review of it for us yesterday, and I couldn’t agree with her more:
Set during the Rebellion of 1798, the play, billed as a “classic Irish comedy,” is handled skillfully by director Peter Dobbins and his thoroughly entertaining cast, offering the audience a sweet glimpse past March’s ever-present “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” t-shirts into a world where love, loyalty, and a good joke win the day. . .
The story of Arrah-na-Pogue offers a thoughtful meditation on the nature of love and trust. Arrah and Shaun’s unshakeable devotion to each other arises from their mutual belief in the innate good of their beloved and their consequent commitment to putting the other first. . .
Be sure to read the rest of it here. And, if you’re in New York, check out the play before it closes on April 2.
A sad goodbye to the scholar and FT writer Stanley Rothman, who died earlier this month at age 83. His name lives on through his son, David J. Rothman, who just reviewed Christian Wiman’s book of poetry in the latest issue of FT [subscription required].
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and those of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.
In his column today, Ross Douthat captures well the paradox of how we view the fetus today in America:
In every era, there’s been a tragic contrast between the burden of unwanted pregnancies and the burden of infertility. But this gap used to be bridged by adoption far more frequently than it is today. Prior to 1973, 20 percent of births to white, unmarried women (and 9 percent of unwed births over all) led to an adoption. Today, just 1 percent of babies born to unwed mothers are adopted, and would-be adoptive parents face a waiting list that has lengthened beyond reason.
This year’s Life Prizes have just been announced. In past years, the $600,000 in awards have been split among winners such as Lila Rose (who recently wrote about her pro-life adventures in the October issue of FT).
This year’s winners are: Jeanne Head (a UN representative for National Right to Life and a Representative of the International Right to Life Federation), the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network (whichhas provided assistance to more than 1000 families, including the medically dependent, persons with disabilities, and those incapacitated in life-threatening situations), Douglas Johnson (legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee), Kristan Hawkins (executive director of Students for Life of America), Reverend Alveda King (a public face of the pro-life movement in the African American community), and Marie Smith (director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues, a non-partisan global outreach of Gospel of Life Ministries).
Life Prizes “awards those who have succeeded in awakening the conscience of America to uphold and preserve the sanctity of human life through their leadership and advances in public advocacy, scientific research, outreach and public disclosure activities, legal action, and other noteworthy achievements.” Congrats to this year’s six winners!
a hard-working cafe owner has been ordered to tear down an extractor fan–because the smell of her frying bacon ‘offends’ Muslims. Mrs Akciecek and her husband Cetin, 50,–himself a Turkish Muslim–work more than 50 hours a week buying, preparing, and cooking hot and cold sandwiches and hot-pots for their customers. . . . She said: “I just think it’s crazy. Cetin’s friends actually visit the shop, they’re regular visitors, they’re Muslim people, they come in a couple of times a week. . . . I have Muslim people come in for cheese toasties. Cetin cooks the food himself, he cooks the bacon.”
Mmm . . . cheese toasties and bacon. I don’t even know what cheese toasties are, but they certainly sound good. I think we have to admit that it’s all a matter of perspective here. There are some people, comedian Jim Gaffigan for instance, who would pay a pretty penny for real estate in a bacon-smelling neighborhood:
Stephen Hawking’s been in the news the past few weeks, for speaking on rather dark matters. Last month he said “I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space,” and urged that we prepare to abandon the Earth. Now, according to Reuters,
Hawking says a new series of theories made a creator of the universe redundant. . . .“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,” Hawking writes.
Of course he’s entitled to his personal beliefs, but there’s something about this public statement that rings funny to me: It’s the “there is” part: “Because there is a law such as gravity . . . .” Wait, where did that law come from? Oh, who knows; it just is.
Despite his new thoughts on the subject, it’s that thing about what just is that remains unchanged and leaves room for science and faith to coexist. Indeed, he expressed that very thought–that faith and reason don’t have to work against each other–years ago in A Brief History of Time: “If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason–for then we should know the mind of God.”
Dinesh D’Souza and Peter Singer will debate “Is God the Source of Morality?” on Monday, September 13, with Eric Metaxas as moderator–brought to you by Socrates in the City. Promises to be an interesting evening!
The New Yorker has called Peter Singer “the most influential living philosopher,” but his critics have called him “the most dangerous man in the world.” He is widely known for his view that animals have the same moral status as humans.
The New York Times Magazine has called D’Souza one of America’s most influential conservative thinkers, famous and infamous for his theories on religion, race, gender, and sexuality. He is the author of many best-selling books, including: What’s So Great About Christianity?
When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger turned 70 in 1997, he asked Pope John Paul to relieve him of his duties as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and permit him to become archivist of the Vatican Secret Archives and librarian of the Vatican Library . . . .
Yes, we always knew he loved to read and write books. Benedict XVI later spoke on the subject: “In his providential design the Lord had other plans for me and here I am with you today, not as a passionate scholar of ancient texts. . . .”
Incidentally, the Vatican Library, which reopens next month after having been closed for three years for renovation, does not check out books to the public. As the Catholic News Service reports, “The only person allowed to check out a book is the pope.”
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Congratulations to Ashley Samelson, whose On the Square piece “Why ‘Freedom of Worship’ Is Not Enough,” reporting on the Obama administration’s change of rhetoric from “freedom of religion,” got the attention of Catholic Online and then the Drudge Report in the past few days.
Which reminds me: Be sure to check out her blog sometime.
Being in New York in the run up to the 2008 presidential election was an interesting experience. All in a day’s walk, I’d pass vendors and happy consumers of Obama paintings, Obama rhinestone T-shirts, even Obama condoms.
Sometime in October that year, a friend asked me if I could feel the excitement of what was about to happen–when Obama would be elected as president. This particular friend was a fiscal conservative, so I was surprised to hear his enthusiasm for Obama. While he gushed with excitement about all the change Obama could bring, I remember laughing. It all sounded like a young relationship heading for breakup: You’ve found someone who you can’t get out of your mind–in the sweetness of infatuation, you see the rest of your life played out with this person. You’re filling in the gaps with your imagination of a great future. But it’s riding too much on those sweet hopes and less on practical reality and it’s bound to fall apart. It takes some people longer than others to realize a relationship’s heading nowhere, but it never ends well.
So I told him I’m happy for him in his new love, but I also warned it’s going to be a hard breakup if he puts all his hopes on one so soon. Now I see that many others, including Paul Waldman at the American Prospect, are feeling his pain.
This weekend the Vatican was targeted in a cyber attack by an unknown person who used the Google Internet search engine to misdirect Web browsers searching for information.
On Saturday, any user who typed the word “Vatican” into the search field on Google’s Web page was directed to the site “www.pedofilo.com” as the first suggestion, rather than the proper Vatican Web page.
Users who entered this site proposed by the search engine viewed a blank page.
Pitiful, isn’t it? I mean, if you’re going to launch a cyberattack, you ought to do it right. Linking to a blank page? Talk about lack of follow-through and sloppy workmanship. Or maybe it’s just the weakness of the opposition.
The professed-Catholic Nancy Pelosi received the Champion for Women’s Health Award from Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider, today in the Rayburn House Office Building.
Which made me look up that old transcript from Meet the Press from a while back–remember when she said as a Catholic that the Catholic Church is undecided about whether abortion is the taking of a life? But really she was saying she is undecided about whether she’s Catholic?
MR. BROKAW: Senator Obama saying the question of when life begins is above his pay grade, whether you’re looking at it scientifically or theologically. If he were to come to you and say, “Help me out here, Madame Speaker. When does life begin?” what would you tell him?
REP. PELOSI: I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And Senator–St. Augustine said at three months. We don’t know. The point is, is that it shouldn’t have an impact on the woman’s right to choose. Roe v. Wade talks about very clear definitions of when the child–first trimester, certain considerations; second trimester; not so third trimester. There’s very clear distinctions. This isn’t about abortion on demand, it’s about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and–to–that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god. And so I don’t think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins. As I say, the Catholic Church for centuries has been discussing this, and there are those who’ve decided…
MR. BROKAW: The Catholic Church at the moment feels very strongly that it…
REP. PELOSI: I understand that.
MR. BROKAW: …begins at the point of conception.
REP. PELOSI: I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the Church, this is an issue of controversy.
Sometimes I wonder if it makes those at Planned Parenthood uncomfortable when she brings up her Catholic issues, wondering whether abortion is the taking of a life and all. Isn’t that the kind of question they don’t like to ask?
A new study reveals that perfectionists die earlier than those who aren’t perfectionists. According to the report:
While trying to be perfect can also have health benefits, the mental stress for perfectionists when things don’t go as planned and their unwillingness to ask others for help can add up to problems. . . . [Researchers] found that those with high perfectionism scores ran a 51 percent increased risk of earlier death as compared to volunteers who had low perfectionism scores. The researchers theorize that high levels of anxiety and stress–common in perfectionists–may contribute to a reduced lifespan.
While this can seem like a funny moment for slackers to feel justified in their slacking (pobody’s nerfect, right?), I find it more troubling than funny. I was reading a book the other day that also highlighted this phenomenon, in particular in reference to girls. Girls on the Edge, a new book by doctor and psychologist Leonard Sax, reveals how girls face high levels of stress these days in the effort to impress others (whether family, teachers, college-admission departments, or potential employers); the problems develop when they put these efforts before reaching a secure sense of self.
This certainly leaves us with a lot to chew on, and in particular it interests me because it comes at a time when reports are showing women simultaneously more successful in school and business than ever before–and more unhappy.