A link for the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade

This article by Kathryn Jean Lopez really resonates with me. She quotes the priest who preached at the funeral of Bernard Nathanson as he compares Nathanson to Whittaker Chambers. The similarities between the two on a deep level are very striking. I urge you to read this: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kathrynlopez/2013/01/remember-doctor-bernard/#comment-43876
The twentieth century was such a deadly time, and in abortuaries, the slaughter continues.

Delightful essay from the incomparable David Warren

These may be the two best opening paragraphs that I have seen in a blog entry:

"Your problems solved

"As quite a few American & foreign pundits have begun to grasp, the U.S. electorate has been voting consistently for two things, through many election cycles. First, they want a very large, comprehensive, & intrusive Nanny State. And second, they don’t want to pay for it. From the polls, which show strong opposition to raising the debt ceiling, we further learn that they don’t want their guvmint to borrow the money, either.

"Readers of this website will appreciate that these are normal positions in any large, centrally bureaucratized, democratic polity, & the USA is hardly the only country poised atop some 'fiscal cliff.' And let me add that the average U.S. citizen is no more stupid than the average Canadian citizen. Indeed, from what I can see up here, that would be impossible."

How can this problem be solved? Simple, dear reader--a mere application of basic mathematics!

"Start by simply doubling the latest tax rate on 'the rich,' to around 100 percent. That won’t make much difference to the deficit, so double it, too, on all the other income brackets. Now, we are getting somewhere. Keep doubling across the board until revenues & expenditures level out. It’s that easy. Soon, everyone can be paying 100 percent, & by the principle of graduated income tax, the rich paying, say, 10 or 20 or 50 times what they earn. Given demographic trends, the rates would have to keep rising at an accelerating pace towards infinity, but hey, it’s just numbers."

I hardly know whether to laugh or cry!

Mr. Warren, I salute you!

Read the whole thing http://www.davidwarrenonline.com/2013/01/09/your-problems-solved/#comments

Catholic Social Teaching

According to Robert George, "Authentic Catholic social teaching begins from an affirmation of (a) the inherent and equal dignity and fundamental right to life of every member of the human family, including the child in the womb; (b) the centrality and indispensable social significance of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and (c) religious freedom and the rights of conscience."
Here is the link to the whole article: http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2012/10/the-catholic-leftrsquos-unfair-attack-on-paul-ryan

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

Where were you on September 11?

On September 11, 2001, three of my four children still lived at home. I was alone at home on that beautiful, sunny day while they were at school. I rarely watch television during the day, so when my mother-in-law called me that morning, I had no idea what she was so upset about. “Turn on the TV!” she said. When I did, I saw what was happening. By the time I called her back, I had realized what the two planes hitting the towers meant. “This is an act of war,” I told her. “It’s like Pearl Harbor. I think David [my older son, who was eighteen at the time] will have to go to war.”

“Oh, no,” she cried, getting upset. “Not that!”

I realized what a mistake I’d made and calmed her down.

I remember looking at that perfect blue sky and marveling, with a sense of dread, at its emptiness of airplanes. I also remember how anxious I was to have my children home again that day.

I remember praying for the victims and for my country and for my children.

The next day, I was teaching a literature class at a local Catholic college. I said a prayer before class, something that I did not normally do because the college’s Catholic culture was not particularly strong. On that day, though, I felt a need to take a stand, to reach out in faith. However, I noticed that several of the students were restless. Some of them didn’t believe in praying; others blamed America for the attack. There was no illusion of unity in my classroom.

The following weekend, as my son and his friends played a gig with their swing band at a local park, I wondered, with a welling of tears, where all those young men would be in a few years. Would they all be drafted, like the young men of my father’s generation? What would happen next?

The world was a different place.

For all the victims: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.

A College Pastoral (with apologies to Alexander Pope)

I found this little period piece when we were cleaning some old college papers out of the attic yesterday. I must have written it while I was still in college because it is written in my handwriting and signed by my maiden name, but I have no memory of composing it. Obviously, I must have recently read Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock before writing it! Note: I attended Seton Hill College, at that time a women's college, and the nearby men's college was St. Vincent College, probably most famous now as the training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Its students were known to us as "Vinnies."

A College Pastoral

While all the world is longing for the Spring,
Sally Setonian wants a wedding ring;
Considering that she's spent four tiring years,
A lot of money, and a sea of tears
In chasing Vincent men, consuming beer,
Buying new fashions--her new hunting gear--
Surely she has a right to be upset--
Books aren't what she came up here to get!

The noble Vinnie, meanwhile, staying clear
Of all her wiles, cries, "No--just one more year!
One year of freedom, money, other girls--
Then, darling, then I will be only yours!"

False promises! A year from now will see
Him with Diane, Debbie, or Sarah Lee--
While she consoles her broken, aching heart
With Frederick, with Dan, or freaky Art.

But now to classes merrily they go
And strive to see how little they can know;
Although to learn a cool three thou. they pay
Their efforts have one end--to get away.
Get through this course, and that's three credits more;
Do least, but get the most in grade-point score.

Times have certainly changed. Yes, college really did cost only three thousand dollars when I was there! Of course, that three thousand dollars was worth much more than it is now. When my husband and I were newlyweds, we could live on $3600 a year, if we were very careful.

Book review: Declare

Published ten years ago (2001), Declare is Tim Powers’ Cold War novel. It focuses on the disturbing figure of Kim Philby, the famous British Cold War traitor. I have often been puzzled about the motivations of Philby and his companions, Maclean and Burgess; why would the scions of privileged families turn on their own country and betray its secrets to the Soviets?

Powers’ novel attempts an explanation, and it also attempts to account for the depth of evil into which the Soviet empire sank over its depraved history.
Powers is known for using historical figures and events as the basis for fantasy literature—known as “magical realism” if the author is considered to be “literary”—in novels such as The Stress of Her Regard and On Stranger Tides. In Declare, Powers takes this technique to an astonishing level.

The world of espionage is a natural place for the strange and surprising; after all, it is a shadowy world in which the players of the “great game,” a phrase which Powers borrows from Kipling’s Kim, rarely know quite what is happening or whom to trust. At the same time, the players may sense that they are involved in the real mainsprings of the events of history, but the history is unknown to those who are not initiates. Thus the appeal is to what C. S. Lewis called “The Inner Ring” in an essay of that name. The desire to be “in the know,” to be one of the small number of a secret but powerful elite, is a powerful one, and it is gradually revealed to be a mainspring of the action of Declare.

As the story opens, the protagonist, a British lecturer, Andrew Hale, receives a coded message in a phone call on the second day of 1963 that reactivates him as an agent for the first time in ten years, and about fifteen years after he has ceased to be an active agent. Hale was baptized a Catholic as a child but has lost (or abandoned) his faith and has given his primary loyalty to the British Crown. From the beginning we see that Hale has suffered from what we now call post-traumatic stress, but what is the source? Is it simply the stress of the life of an espionage agent, or is there something more? Gradually the events that led to his dismissal from the service are revealed to the reader, through a series of flashbacks. Hale’s reluctance to think about the circumstances is evident in the way that the story unfolds and contrasts with his acquiescence in his reactivation; it takes some time for him to admit to himself and for the reader to discover what is behind his mixture of feelings about Declare, the project on which he was working at the time of his greatest failure.

The role of Communism in the story is partially exemplified in the character of Elena Ceniza-Bendiga, a Spanish woman who when Hale meets her in 1941 is a devout Communist and considers herself married to the Party. Her journey both contrasts with Hale’s and parallels it.

The fantastic element in the plot involves interaction of occult and even demonic forces with the dark world of espionage, a remarkably good fit. Powers uses gaps and unexplained aspects of the life of Kim Philby to insert this element in a plausible and compelling way. Philby’s father was a noted Arabist, and the Middle Eastern connection with this story is fascinating. (Powers discusses his approach to Philby’s life in an Author’s Note and in this interview: http://www.theworksoftimpowers.com/exclusive-author-interview/exclusive-author-interview-9/.)

Andrew Hale’s fear of the supernatural (entirely justified by events in the plot) is balanced by his attraction to the power and knowledge that it seems to offer to him; Philby, too, reveals his desire to be the one who knows all that is to be known. The lives of each reveal the consequences of the character’s choices.
In Declare, questions of deception and recognition are crucial. Who will recognize a character, and as what? What kind of union does one want to achieve, and with whom? I found a passage in Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth: Part Two that touches on a theme of Declare: “’Eternal life’ is gained through ‘recognition’, presupposing here the Old Testament concept of recognition: recognizing creates communion; it is union of being with the one recognized. But of course the key to life is not any kind of recognition, but to ‘know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent’ ([John] 17:3)” (83). Indeed, to be recognized by the occult supernatural powers is a terrifying experience in Declare, but the events of the novel leave an opening for other forms of recognition.

As a reviewer at Amazon remarks, Powers’ work is reminiscent of the novels of Charles Williams. Declare reminds me of Williams’ All Hallows’ Eve in the significance of baptism and of Descent into Hell in the use of the doppelganger. Indeed, doubling is almost a theme of the novel, and several characters encounter doubles and alter egos.

Declare touches on the deepest aspects of life and on some of the most compelling events of the history of the twentieth century. It is a novel that lingers in the thoughts long after the reading and that repays rereading.