A Vermont woman named Patricia Blair has suffered a tragedy: Her unborn twins were killed in an auto accident. Blair—who survived, obviously—thinks that the driver who caused the accident should be prosecuted for the death of her children. But you see the problem: If it’s a crime to kill an unborn child, then abortion is a crime. But Roe v. Wade proclaimed that abortion cannot be a crime. So the legal system is stuck. . . .
In Vermont the law is more straightforward: an unborn child is not recognized as having any legal rights. Quoting Cheryl Hanna, a professor a the University of Vermont Law School, the Boston Herald explains that any change in the state law could imperil the legal status of abortion.
“Having said that, the loss to Mrs. Blair is no less significant and real to her. It’s a shame that there’s not a very good way for the law to legitimately recognize the loss to her,” Hanna said.
So if we begin with the feminist axiom that abortion must be legal, in order to protect the rights of women, then the rights of some women like Patricia Blair must be ignored. And if her unborn twins were both female, the feminist axiom didn’t do much to protect their rights either.
Over at Get Religion, Terry Mattingly notes an exceptional interview with Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu—exceptional for the way it portrays his faith in an honest and thoughtful way. A sample:
If Paisios [Polamalu's son] had the calling to become an Orthodox priest and not a fullback, you’d be elated?
Of course. Obviously the [athletic] pedigree is there in my family and my wife’s people give me a hard time: “Troy, man, what if your son’s not a good athlete, or he grows up and he’s not big?” But I say, “How big do you need to be in order to be a priest?”
Still growing orchids?
I’ve tried but I don’t have enough patience for orchids. They’re so sensitive. Here’s what happened recently: It’s funny, I spent all last year trying to nurse this orchid to health. Finally spring comes along and I thought, I give up, I’m putting it outside. A month later, I come back to Pittsburgh and guess what? I look outside and it’s blooming like crazy! I can’t do what only God can do.
What intrigues you about the monastic life?
For me, faith is to be simple in this way. If anybody believes in God and believes in the Holy Bible, how can you be in any grey area? I’m talking about myself here, how can “I” think one way and do another way? To me, Christianity is very black and white. Either you take it serious or you don’t take it serious at all. The monks’ example to me is that they take salvation seriously in every facet of their lives. This is a model for me as a Christian and for my family on how to live our lives.
A few weeks ago Fr. Joseph Augustine Di Noia, O.P. was ordained to the episcopate in a grand ceremony in Washington, DC. Before he was an Archbishop, the new Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments wrote “ Jesus and the World Religions,” in which he addressed the question of Jesus as the unique mediator of salvation:
Is Jesus Christ the unique mediator of salvation? I was one of five panelists assigned to address this question at a recent meeting of Catholic theologians. I was the first to speak and, as it turned out, the only panelist prepared to advance an unqualified affirmative response to the question. Why is this? Why would a group of Catholic theologians decline to affirm what, until recently, would have been considered an unquestionable tenet of ecumenical Christian faith?
As the session unfolded, it became clear that their reluctance to do so was motivated at least in part by a desire to avoid giving offense to religious people of other traditions. The underlying premise of their remarks and of the ensuing discussion seemed to be this: To ascribe a uniquely salvific role to Jesus Christ would constitute a denial of the salvific role of other religious founders (like the Buddha and Muhammad) and thus would be an affront to their communities.
This article, in turn, prompted an exchange with Jerry L. Walls, “Must the Truth Offend?” on how Christians think about those who reject Christian teachings. We commend the articles in question to you and wish Archbishop Di Noia well in his new ministry.
At Public Discourse, Carson Holloway questions the analogy between Brown v. Board of Education and a future court case to legalize same-sex marriage:
In Brown v. Board of Education, for example, the Supreme Court delivered an important victory for racial justice by striking down segregation in public education, even though that decision could be characterized as lacking democratic legitimacy insofar as it overturned practices that enjoyed majority approval in the states in which they arose, and lacking constitutional legitimacy insofar as it depended on overturning a long-established interpretation of the Constitution. According to this argument, a key victory of the civil-rights movement may have lacked certain kinds of procedural legitimacy, but it was nevertheless right, and is today universally approved, because it enjoyed a higher moral legitimacy arising from its vindication of the fundamental principle of equality. Thus the judicial victories that the same-sex marriage movement seeks would possess the same kind of legitimacy as the Brown decision, which nobody would deny is one of the finest achievements of American jurisprudence. Put simply, the advocates of same-sex marriage can respond to the charge of judicial activism as follows: “So what? Reliance on judicial activism is as American as the civil-rights movement.”
By day, firefighter Dean Scott puts out flames in rural western Washington. By night, he tries to kindle them between Reformed singles around the country.
Scores of Christian dating websites (and dating sites that market themselves to Christians) are doing their part to solve the delayed marriage problem by promising to pair like-minded couples. But Scott’s SovereignGraceSingles.com hopes to take compatibility tests to a new level, making sure that singles are on the same page theologically.
Singles who build profiles on SovereignGraceSingles answer questions such as, ” How have the Doctrines of Grace changed or affected your life?” “Do you have a Quiet Time?” and “Who is your favorite biblical character and why?” Members’ usernames include tulips, restingingrace0611, and ReformedSoutherner.
But what about the whole predestination thing? Baylor’s Roger Olson, author of Arminian Theology, thought that it wasn’t compatible with online dating: “It’s an example of a larger dissonance between Calvinist theology and Calvinist practice. If God has foreordained everything, then why should I feel any urgency to act?” Dean Scott counters, “I don’t think it’s antithetical to God’s sovereignty at all. It’s a means that he’s provided to use in the lives of single, Reformed folks.”
And it makes one ponder: Isn’t this a case of persevering saints who have been conditionally elected, captured by an irresistable grace—or Grace, as the case may be?
Another addition to the church challenge, and one which I was fortunate enough to visit earlier this month, is the Mariaczka Basilica on the town square in Krakow. The Central Europeans love color in their churches, and the Mariaczka is a perfect example. The whole church is a blaze of hues that, instead of becoming garish, unite in pleasant harmony. You can see this most clearly in the sanctuary, whose altar, ceiling, and choir stalls are shown below.
Over at Icons and Curiosities, Sally asks the rest of us to join in her and Jody’s churchfest. This morning my friend Matt Alderman inadvertently answered the call at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping, posting photos of St. Elizabeth’s, Bratislava, also known as the Blue Church. I never expected to see a church with a bright, summery color scheme, and certainly not one that pulled it off so well.
Long before the current turmoil in Iran, a woman was stoned by the members of her village for adultery that she did not commit. Such occurrences are common in the Islamic world today, but this one was documented by expatriate Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam and broadcast across the world in his book The Stoning of Soraya M. Now Jim Caviezel and other members of the crew behind The Passion of the Christ have turned the book into a movie by the same name.
At Politics DailyCarl M. Cannon provides more of the backstory of the film and expresses the outrage that many feel when confronted with such cruelty and injustice. But in the Wall Street JournalAndrew Klavan argues that cultural relativism keeps many Westerners from fighting against that injustice.
All too true, and it takes films like The Stoning of Soraya M. to challenge that relativism, to force people to ask whether the principles of justice run deeper than our will to power. The Stoning of Soraya M. opens this Friday in select theaters around the country. Check out the trailer below and, if you can, the film itself.
From the New Liturgical Movement comes the news that ten sisters in an Anglican convent in Baltimore will be received into the Catholic Church, with two of their fellow sisters remaining Anglican. The reaction of many upon hearing such news is probably, “So who are these Anglicans with their nuns?”
Br. Stephen Treat, O. Cist., whose writings I’ve mentioned before on the blog, provides an explanation with precisely that title. Br. Treat’s mini-treatise is an instructive look at the life and beliefs of those who live on the edges of protestant churches, particularly the Lutherans and Anglicans, with close kinship to Catholicism or Orthodoxy. He focuses on Anglo-Catholicism, but I expect that much of what he says would ring true for other groups as well. If you’ve ever wondered why that committed Lutheran flew the coop or why those Anglicans bother to stick around with the exhausted project, Br. Treat might be able to give you some idea.
That’s “the naked public square” in Spanish, for the non-Hispanophones out there, and it’s a phrase that Spaniards are going to want to remember in the coming months. As CNA reports:
Publico, a newspaper closely allied with Spain’s ruling Socialist party, reported this week that the government is studying the idea of suppressing religious symbols in military barracks, hospitals, jails and public schools, as well as during State funerals or inauguration ceremonies for public officials.
The newspaper reported that Minister of Justice Francisco Caamano referenced the proposal in comments about “creating religiously neutral public spaces.”
Religious neutrality as legislated secularism. You never know what they’ll think up next.
Maria Monk, Jesuitical trickery, Opus Dei, the Templars . . . why don’t the Cistercians get any conspiracy theories? So asks Br. Stephen Treat:
Yeah, the Templars had a good run and went down in spectacular flames, but doesn’t that setback suggest that maybe they weren’t such great masterminds? Could there have been another group actually pulling the strings? Perhaps the group that got the Templars rolling? A group that was also running around the Holy Land with its own banking system, ships, and a network that counts more than 700 sites in Europe? A group that also founded the Knights of Calatrava? One that not only had the ear of the papacy but could put one of its own on the throne of Peter? An order that mysteriously developed the first commercial foundry in the Middle Ages? One that faced not only the Saracens but also acted as the inquisitors against the Cathars and went on to play cloak and dagger with the Jacobins, Josephists, Nazis, and Communists? Doesn’t anyone who writes thrillers remember that you should always suspect the quiet ones?
It really doesn’t seem fair. The Templars were a 175-year flash in the pan but you can fill a library with books peddling crackpot theories about them. Opus Dei is still practically in diapers and they get to have albino assassin monks. We’ve got 900 years of material to work with and all we get are academic monographs.
I think Merton ruined our chances for conspiracy glory. Granted that’s a different order, but not many folks seem to catch the distinction. Now when people think of Cistercians, it’s all peace and love. Of course maybe that’s just what we wanted. . . .
So if you see a flash of black and white rounding the corner on a dark and stormy night, don’t think it’s all peace and love. You know who’s brewing trouble. Unless it’s actually those sinister Dominicans.
Last winter I went to a conference in Seattle and had the chance to walk by Pike Place Fish. Aside from the gorgeous spread of Pacific seafood—king crabs, salmons, the works—the main eye-catcher was that the employees tossed the catch from one to another as they wrapped and sold the fish.
Recently the folks from Pike Place Fish were hired by a veterinarians’ conference to give a presentation on the value of teamwork on the job—a presentation that would involve acts of fish-tossing. But the folks at PETA heard about it and they were not happy. As they wrote to the organization of veterinarians: “You should know that people who care about animals are appalled that a veterinary organization, whose purpose is to represent the interests of those whose jobs involve protecting the well-being of animals would promote an event in which animals are treated so disrespectfully and are handled as if they were toys.”
One could move from here to a discussion as to why animals and their bodies do not, in fact, have quite the dignity that PETA would attribute to them. But the Seattle Times simply noted the obvious:
Fish have some kind of feelings when living. But fish used in the famous fish toss are not nursing a wound or evaluating their sense of self worth. They are dead. The next best thing that can happen to a salmon is to be topped with lemon and butter, barbecued and then eaten.
Mmmmmm. A pity the folks from PETA will never know the joy of a tossed and barbecued salmon. And I hope they never happen upon even more egregious affronts to the self worth of fishes. . . .
A friend told me about Fr. Apostolos Hill, a Greek Orthodox priest in Denver who has recorded three CDs of Byzantine chant. Fr. Hill’s clear voice rings out with little adornment and solemn passion, and in his American vibratto I think I can hear a hint of evangelical background (but I could be wrong about that). As I was listening to his recording of the 17th Kathisma from the Daily Office, I heard the stray line “For I have become as a bottle in the frost.”
Elsewhere those words from Psalm 119 are translated “like a wineskin on the smoke,” but that does not have the effect. “As a bottle in the frost.” One can picture the cold glass, constricted, the little cracks in the surface ready to multiply at the slightest touch and shatter the bottle. A striking image for a weary soul waiting on the Lord’s relief.
In today’s New York Times food section there’s a recipe for the good life. I know that’s a tacky opening sentence, but I couldn’t resist. John T. Edge reports from Hemingway, South Carolina on a family that makes old fashioned BBQ. As in:
Ten butterflied pig carcasses—taut bellies gone slack, pink flesh gone cordovan—were in the pits when Mr. Lewis reached for the sheet of wire fencing on which one of the pigs had been roasting since 4 the previous afternoon. In lockstep, Mr. Shaw topped that same pig with a second sheet of fencing, reached his gloved fingers into the netting, and grabbed hold.
As the men struggled, the 150 pounds of dead weight torqued the makeshift wire cage. When the carcass landed, skin-side down, on the metal grid of a recently fired pit, skeins of grease trailed down the pig’s flanks, and the smoldering oak and hickory coals beneath hissed and flared.
“I cooked my first one when I was 11,” Mr. Scott said, as he seasoned the pig with lashings of salt, red pepper, black pepper and Accent, a flavor enhancer made with MSG.
Working a long-handled mop, he drenched the pig in a vinegar sauce of a similar peppery composition. “You’ve got to always be on point, when you’re cooking this way,” he said.
The pigs, the butchering, and the wood are all local. The barrels for burning wood down to coals are made in town with old truck axles and industrial piping. And what’s the secret ingredient? “Love,” says Rodney Scott, the head of the operation, in the accompanying audio slideshow. “You put love in and you get love back.” Coming from someone who spends his days manhandling 135-pound butterflied pigs, that’s not as sentimental as it might sound. He cooked his first pig at age eleven. The people come from miles around to get their ribs and pulled pork, and to spend an afternoon chatting. “It’s like a huge family with a small reunion everyday that we’re out here cookin’,” Stark said. “I like to see a full person happy. It makes me happy.”
Good food worked over for hours, family, community, happy people full of BBQ—this is human flourishing. This is the good life.
The problems were brought home when a relative had difficulty walking. He was in chronic pain. His doctor suggested a referral to a neurologist; an MRI would need to be done, then possibly a referral to another specialist. The wait would have stretched to roughly a year. If surgery was needed, the wait would be months more. Not wanting to stay confined to his house, he had the surgery done in the U.S., at the Mayo Clinic, and paid for it himself. . . .
Indeed, Canada’s provincial governments themselves rely on American medicine. Between 2006 and 2008, Ontario sent more than 160 patients to New York and Michigan for emergency neurosurgery—described by the Globe and Mail newspaper as “broken necks, burst aneurysms and other types of bleeding in or around the brain.” . . .
Overall, according to a study published in Lancet Oncology last year, five-year cancer survival rates are higher in the U.S. than those in Canada. Based on data from the Joint Canada/U.S. Survey of Health (done by Statistics Canada and the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics), Americans have greater access to preventive screening tests and have higher treatment rates for chronic illnesses. No wonder: To limit the growth in health spending, governments restrict the supply of health care by rationing it through waiting. The same survey data show, as June and Paul O’Neill note in a paper published in 2007 in the Forum for Health Economics & Policy, that the poor under socialized medicine seem to be less healthy relative to the nonpoor than their American counterparts.
Gratzer also notes the number of Canadian physicians opening private practices and the British and Swedish governments’ decisions to turn parts of their health care systems over to the private sector—more reasons to be cautious about switching to large, government-sponsored care. But the key sentence of Gratzer’s article is buried in the paragraph above: “To limit the growth in health spending, governments restrict the supply of health care by rationing it through waiting.” Thereby the quest to cure human disease is turned into a war of attrition on human health. And for all the flaws in the current health care regime, that would not be an improvement.
Sean Curnyn and David Goldman both note the perils of a speech directed to “the Muslim world.” But at Public Discourse, Jennifer S. Bryson, director of the Witherspoon Institute’s Islam and Civil Society Project, notes that despite the characterization of the press, Obama didn’t address “the Muslim world”:
I first heard about Obama’s speech to “the Muslim world” from National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” top-of-the-hour report. It expressed the same impression conveyed by many news reports on the speech. From what the news outlets said, it seemed as if the United States government would remain trapped in post–9/11 strategic communication follies of feeding into Osama bin Laden’s “Muslims versus non-Muslims” narrative. For those first moments yesterday as I made my morning cup of coffee, it seemed, sadly, as if nothing had changed, as if this would be no “new beginning” at all.
The actual text of Obama’s speech, however, gives a much different picture. Obama did not fall into the familiar trap of referring to Muslims as if there were part of some entity in opposition to the United States called “the Muslim world”—a phrase which creates a seeming monolith which is wholly separate. Rather, in this speech Obama dropped the terminology of “the Muslim world,” and in its place he used phrases such as “Muslim communities” and “Muslims around the world” to convey the complexity of modern, lived Islam. When reflected in policy changes, these subtle but significant rhetorical shifts spell trouble for the Osama bin Ladens of this world.
In his speech, President Obama never referred to “Muslim countries.” This was spot-on. Instead he referred to Indonesia as an “overwhelmingly Muslim country” and to Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia as “Muslim-majority countries.” When he spoke of other topics, such as the vitally important topic of expanding literacy for girls, he referred again to “Muslim-majority countries.”
Fair enough, and a valid distinction worth noting. But I still share many of the criticisms that others have already outlined here at First Thoughts.
The Baptist minister at Real Live Preacher went to an Orthodox church during his sabbatical for an ecclesiastical safari. It surprised him more than expected:
Pews? We don’t need no stinking pews! Providing seats for worshipers is SO 14th century. Gorgeous Byzantine art, commissioned from a famous artist in Bulgaria. Fully robed priests with censors (those swinging incense thingies). Long, complex readings and chants that went on and on and on. And every one of them packed full of complex, theological ideas. It was like they were ripping raw chunks of theology out of ancient creeds and throwing them by the handfuls into the congregation. And just to make sure it wasn’t too easy for us, everything was read in a monotone voice and at the speed of an auctioneer.
I heard words and phrases I had not heard since seminary. Theotokos, begotten not made, Cherubim and Seraphim borne on their pinions, supplications and oblations. It was an ADD kids nightmare. Robes, scary art, smoking incense, secret doors in the Iconostas popping open and little robed boys coming out with golden candlesticks, chants and singing from a small choir that rolled across the curved ceiling and emerged from the other side of the room where no one was singing. The acoustics were wild. No matter who was speaking, the sound came out of everywhere. There was so much going on I couldn’t keep up with all the things I couldn’t pay attention to.
And how did this Baptist react to the overwhelming ritual, the art, the “raw chunks of theology,” the foreign and ineffable majesty of it all?
I LOVED IT. Loved it loved it loved it loved it loved it.
In a day when user-friendly is the byword of everything from churches to software, here was worship that asked something of me. No, DEMANDED something of me.
“You don’t know what Theotokos means? Get a book and read about it. You have a hard time standing for 2 hours? Do some sit ups and get yourself into worship shape. It is the Lord our God we worship here, mortal. What made you think you could worship the Eternal One without pain?”
See, I get that. That makes sense to me. I had a hard time following the words of the chants and liturgy, but even my lack of understanding had something to teach me.
“There is so much for you to learn. There is more here than a person could master in a lifetime. THIS IS BIGGER THAN YOU ARE. Your understanding is not central here. These are ancient rites of the church. Stand with us, brother, and you will learn in time. Or go and find your way to an easier place if you must. God bless you on that journey. We understand, but this is the way we do church.”
Worship where something is demanded of you. A church where people take seriously the fact that they are worshiping the eternal God and not patting themselves on the back. A liturgy that gives the people deep theology with the expectation that they can handle it. Sounds like radical change to me. We could use some of that in the Western Church.
In today’s Wall Street Journal Jonathan Last reviews Judith Walzer Leavitt’s Make Room for Daddy, a history of how men went from being unwelcome to expected in the delivery room. But Last notes that as men became more involved in childbirth, they became less involved in what came after:
The increasing involvement of fathers in childbirth has been mirrored by a decreasing involvement of fathers in fatherhood. Between 1940 and 1980, the American divorce rate more than doubled. In 1940, 2 percent of babies were born out of wedlock. Today that number is closer to 40 percent. There is something unwell about a society that requires fathers to pretend to find beauty in effaced cervixes, episiotomies, and the bloody show—but then allows them to skip out on the rearing of the child.
Explaining how the dinosaurs once rationalized keeping men in the Stork Club [the hospital waiting room], Ms. Leavitt quotes one doctor’s argument from the mid-1960s: “As the charm of woman is in her mystery, it is inconceivable that a wife will maintain her sexual prestige after her husband witnessed the expulsion of a baby—a negligee will never hide this apparition.” Another doctor concluded: “On the whole, it is not a show to watch.”
We all laugh at how benighted such views are. (Even if there is, just possibly, some truth in them.) Yet today it is socially acceptable to father a child without marrying the mother or to divorce her later on if mother and father actually do bother to get hitched. And at the same time there is zero tolerance for a husband who says: “No thanks, I’ll be in the waiting room with cigars.” Ms. Leavitt’s fascinating history suggests that childbirth is just one more area where our narcissism has swamped our seriousness.
The New York Times has a story on the Cistercian monks of Our Lady of Spring Bank and the women who run their online business, LaserMonks:
The Rev. Bernard McCoy, the monastery’s superior, had the idea for LaserMonks.com. But the enterprise really took off when the monks turned it over to two entrepreneurial laywomen who originally came from Colorado to give them advice and never left.
“We feel we’re stewards of their business, and we really put bread on the table,” said one of the women, Sarah Caniglia, sitting in their impeccably organized office amid lighted candles and CDs of Gregorian chants. “I feel like the head of a family, but the boys are grown up and they’re never going to get married.”
Father McCoy, who at 42 already has a monk’s bald pate and fringe of hair, said: “Our life as monks is not set up to sit around and answer phones. We’re supposed to be a little removed.”
“We are professional pray-ers,” said Father McCoy, who wears a white habit, a long black smock called a scapular cinched with a leather belt and, on his feet, knock-off Crocs. Some days he wears a T-shirt that says, “Ask me about my Vow of Silence.”
In the article they mention that a Br. Stephen Treat (whom I once knew as a fellow Episcopalian parishioner) has a blog, which he updates twice a week. The anecdotes ranging from the progress of the abbey gardens to rescuing stranded teenagers in the middle of the night. Those interested in the quiet, but seemingly never dull life of a monastery should check it out.
The thing about gay marriage, Sam Schulman says in the Weekly Standard, is not that it’s wrong, but that it just won’t work. Most people who object to it, he says, aren’t caught up with religious objections about what the Bible says or sexual acts being “open to life”:
The obstacle to wanting gay marriage is instead how we use and depend on marriage itself–and how little marriage, understood completely, affects or is relevant to gay people in love. Gay marriage is not so much wrong as unnecessary. But if it comes about, it will not be gay marriage that causes the harm I fear, as what will succeed its inevitable failure.
Gay marriage entails the same “cozy virtues” as traditional marriage, Schulman continues, but it replicates the modern invention of romantic marriage while neglecting the larger kinship system of which marriage is a part.
The role that marriage plays in kinship encompasses far more than arranging a happy home in which two hearts may beat as one–in fact marriage is actually pretty indifferent to that particular aim. Nor has marriage historically concerned itself with compelling the particular male and female who have created a child to live together and care for that child. It is not the “right to marry” that creates an enduring relationship between heterosexual lovers or a stable home for a child, but the more far-reaching kinship system that assigns every one of the vast array of marriage rules a set of duties and obligations to enforce. These duties and obligations impinge even on romantic marriage, and not always to its advantage. The obligations of kinship imposed on traditional marriage have nothing to do with the romantic ideals expressed in gay marriage.
Note that slip from romantic marriage to gay marriage, a slip that undermines the whole article. For what Schulman doesn’t recognize is that he is arguing not against gay marriage per se, but against the majority of marriages in America today.
The kinship system Schulman identifies is already in tatters. He gives four effects of that system: a concern for female chastity, rules determining whom one may not marry, the opportunity for licit sexual intercourse, and an initiation rite that ends childhood.
But that is not how young men and women work today. They can marry anyone they want regardless of race or religion. They can extend their childhoods as long as they please. And as long as they love a consenting person (or people), they can have guilt-free sex or live together as they please. “Without social disapproval of unmarried sex,” Schulman asks, “what kind of madman would seek marriage?”
Precisely, reply many young people today. Marriage undone, disintegration of family, children becoming sexual beings–these aren’t hypothetical results of allowing gay marriage; they’re an accurate description of the state of life in many places today. You can argue that gay marriage is a product and advancement of the same mindset that caused these problems, but you can’t argue that it will bring these problems into existence.
At Roll Call,Mort Kondracke argues that we need to shift the focus of federal spending from the old to the young so that the young can better pay for the babyboomers’ retirement. But Kondracke overlooks one problem: More government spending on kids can’t solve the problem if there aren’t enough kids to do the work. Come to think of it, I remember hearing something about that somewhere. . . .
In honor of the feast of the Ascension, here is Gerald Finzi’s “God Is Gone Up,” sung by the Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge. The words are taken from Edward Taylor’s Sacramental Meditations The piece begins around 3:20 into the video.
God is gone up with a triumphant shout:
The Lord with sounding Trumpets’ melodies:
Sing Praise, sing Praise, sing Praise, sing Praises out,
Unto our King sing praise seraphicwise!
Lift up your Heads, ye lasting Doors, they sing,
And let the King of Glory enter in.
Methinks I see Heaven’s sparkling courtiers fly,
In flakes of Glory down him to attend,
And hear Heart-cramping notes of Melody
Surround his Chariot as it did ascend;
Mixing their Music, making ev’ry string
More to enravish as they this tune sing.
Five years ago same-sex marriages were recognized by Massachusetts state courts after such recognition was voted down by citizens in a referendum. In March the National Organization for Marriage and the Massachusetts Family Initiative joined forces to poll the state’s residents on their beliefs about same-sex marriage.
On the question of whether they favored or opposed same-sex marriages residents were split 44 percent in favor and 43 percent opposed, a sign of the continued division on the question. But another area had more interesting results:
Massachusetts voters were also asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, “All things being equal, it is better for children to be raised by their married mother and father.” Seventy-six percent of voters agreed (66 percent strongly) while 21 percent disagreed (13 percent strongly).
A similar question was asked in a 2004 poll of Massachusetts residents. In 2004, 84 percent of Massachusetts residents agreed (33 percent strongly) and 16 percent disagreed (2 percent strongly). Thus, in the five years since gay marriage became a reality in Massachusetts, support for the idea that the ideal is a married mother and father dropped from 84 percent to 76 percent. The proportion who disagreed strongly increased nearly sevenfold, from 2 percent in 2004 to 13 percent in 2009.
Notice another remarkable increase: The number of people who strongly agreed with the ideal of a married mother and father doubled (33 to 66 percent). This would suggest that while fewer agree with that ideal, those who do are firmer in their convictions. Whether they offset the smaller but more rapidly growing number of strong opponents remains to be seen.
The poll also identified a sizable minority (34 to 36 percent) who feel that their opposition to same-sex marriage is unwelcome and will have negative consequences for their lives. More studies would be required to confirm that these changes are due to the recognition of same-sex marriage and not part of a larger national trend, but the poll corroborates the trend NOM expected: “Support for the idea that children need a mom and dad has dropped, and a substantial minority of people believe it is risky to oppose gay marriage openly.”