Miscellaneous Meanderings on the signs of the times (Vol. 9, No. 97)
February 1, 2018
Dr. Mark S. Latkovic
~There’s an argument from economics for the humanity of the unborn: Social Security. Indeed, our entire welfare system is premised on the idea that the unborn (the “embryo,” the “fetus”) is or will be a taxpaying citizen. Otherwise, government couldn’t be borrowing from him or her, i.e., future generations. And, as George Will notes, “This [borrowing] is a form of expropriation – taxation without representation of the unborn.”
(See George Will, “Balanced-budget amendment would counter the abandonment of the original understanding of the Constitution,”
~A search on Amazon for books about St. Monica (St. Augustine’s mother) for a friend also came up with a book about Monica Lewinsky (President Bill Clinton’s intern).
~With wind chills in early January 2018 in the minus teens, going out to get the snail mail was a medal-worthy act of bravery.
~With Trump in the White House and the media having a 24/7 meltdown over him, it’s hard for me to keep up in these MMs with all of the drama.
~On the future of technology front, “The Future Is Now” (see http://thedailygrind.news/tdgn_wp/), it’s clear that moralists will have their hands full.
~For me, this article – “Sofia Vergara, Frozen Embryos and Forced Procreation” (see https://townhall.com/columnists/monacharen/2018/01/12/sofia-vergara-frozen-embryos-and-forced-procreation-n2433373) – is simply another example of the straight line from IVF to our present day horrors, e.g., seeing human embryos as mere “property.” Once you’ve freely “produced” an embryo, you can’t talk about “forced procreation”; you’ve already procreated, and so you’re already a procreator.
~The following story about what Catholic leaders have said about Trump on his 1-year anniversary as president (see https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2018/01/19/trumps-first-year-catholic-leaders-made-strong-condemnations-along) belongs in the category of “Tell me something I didn’t already know.”
~“Arkansas bishop skips pro-life march over death penalty concerns” (see https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/arkansas-bishop-skips-pro-life-march-over-death-penalty-concerns-47607/). This headline for me indicates a real problem with the bishop’s action: St. Pope John Paul II did not condemn the death penalty in the same way as he did abortion (and euthanasia) and the intentional killing of the innocent (See Evangelium vitae, nos. 56-57). That is, although the pope said recourse to capital punishment should be “very rare, if not practically non-existent” (no. 56), he did not call it “intrinsically evil” (Now I realize that the term “intrinsic evil” has, unfortunately, been coming in for some unjustified criticism lately, e.g. see http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/pontifical-academy-for-life-member-term-intrinsically-evil-too-restricting; it’s clear that many want to “bag” the term).
~Why do news stories always refer to a porn actress as a “porn star”? Is it because she’s not really an actress? But why assume every one of them is a star?
~Speaking of pornography… You know it’s become main stream when you can name a show “Pawn Stars” and it’s no big deal.
~When students ask how one single sin can damn someone for all eternity, I like to respond by saying, “Well, the sin of Adam and Eve was ‘only’ one sin and it got them kicked out of the Garden of Eden forever and left us, their descendants, with a huge mess on our hands.”
~Speaking of our ancestors, in late January, I read in The Detroit News the following story headlined, “Monkeys cloned; a step closer to people?” (See http://www.detroitnews.com/story/tech/science/2018/01/24/cloned-monkeys/109767956/). As expected, the scientists quoted said it would never be done on humans. Blah, blah, blah. We’ve heard that song before. And of course PETA condemned the cloning – Oh not its possible application to humans but because of its harm to the monkeys.
~Why is the middle finger the one used for “flipping someone off”? Well, it seems, if it was the thumb, there’d be no finger to use for “thumbs up” (Or as was once popular, “hitchhiking”). If it was the ring finger, it would be too difficult to isolate that finger and, moreover, that finger is for, well, rings. If it was the pinky finger, the effect of giving someone the “bird” with it just would not be as dramatic. If it was the pointer finger, then what finger would we point with? The middle finger not only has nothing else to do, but it is safely tucked away between two fingers on each side and thus is not so easy to use that accidental “flips” would be frequent, but yet easy enough to access for a quick insult.
~The media is so bad these days, that words like dishonest, corrupt, biased, and so on don’t do it justice. Only a word such as evil does.
~Have you noticed how often today people begin their sentences with the word “So” – especially when they are being interviewed?
~Will Humanae vitae get the boot? (See http://magister.blogautore.espresso.repubblica.it/2018/01/30/goodbye-humanae-vitae-francis-liberalizes-the-pill/?refresh_ce). Well, with this current papacy, nothing it seems is off the table as far as moral issues pertaining to marriage, family, and sex go. HV may not get booted, but it may undergo a “pastoral” retooling of sorts.
~ Here we go again… My colleague Ed Peters, a canon lawyer, calls his fellow canonist Fr. Alesandros’ proposal “revolutionary” (see https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/30/fr-alesandros-honest-call-for-revolution/). And of course it is. One of the two main issues rightly criticized by Peters is the idea of “psychic consummation” (although Peters does not use this particular term). Although he writes as if it’s a newish proposal – if I understand him correctly – I know that it’s been around since the early to mid-1970s. Fathers Häring and Curran (and later Fr. Theodore Mackin in the 1980s) floated it (cf. William E. May, “Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage,” Jurist 37  266-286).
~An opinion piece on CNN written by a physician informs us that health care “is not a ministry” (see https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/30/opinions/health-care-christian-evangelicalism-opinion-vox/index.html). Well, okay, even if you don’t accept that, many faithful Christians do practice medicine according to the dictates of their faith. Moreover, many of them do not perform abortions because it is in fact the taking of innocent human life. That’s not dogma, it’s science – and sound ethics as well (i.e., in accord with the natural moral law). The physician who authored this, however, is clearly a secular humanist who equates abortion, contraception, and transgender surgery, with health care. He merely asserts this without argument. Fifty years ago, he would have been in the minority with this view. The culture changed, not science or morality or reality for that matter. The New York Times editorialized similarly and David French’s response is spot-on: “The battle isn’t as the Times phrases it — as the Bible versus the Hippocratic Oath — but rather constitutionally guaranteed liberties (endowed by our Creator) versus preferred progressive public policies. This should not be a fair fight. It’s not a contest between competing, equivalent interests. Rare is the public policy that can meet the traditional test for overriding a First Amendment liberty interest.” (See https://www.nationalreview.com/article/455968/nyt-gets-religious-liberty-wrong).
~The technology spoken of in this article (see https://www.avclub.com/deep-learning-technology-is-now-being-used-to-put-nic-c-1822514573/amp) has truly frightening possibilities. I’ll give you a hint: it has to do with the face, possibly your face someday. In sum: We keep adding things to the long list of items that keep us humans up at night.
~This makes me nervous: “New papal document seeks ‘paradigm shift’ at ecclesiastical universities” (see http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=35219). You see, I confess: whenever I see the phrase “paradigm shift,” I get a shiver.
~“Dennis Prager, Male Sexual Nature: A Primer for the College-Educated” (see https://townhall.com/columnists/dennisprager/2018/01/23/male-sexual-nature-a-primer-for-the-collegeeducated-n2438195). Prager speaks of how it’s natural for men to “objectify” women sexually. As he’s using the term, it’s meant to be a good thing, not a bad thing, as in a husband should “objectify” his wife and vice versa. The term has so much baggage that I think Prager should drop it. There is a better way. As Karol Wojtyla/Pope John Paul II recognizes in his 1960 classic, Love & Responsibility, “The sexual relationship presents more opportunities than most other activities for treating a person — sometimes even without realizing it — as an object of use.” (Ignatius Press, 1993, p. 30). But, Wojtyla continues: “The belief that a human being is a person leads to the acceptance of the postulate that enjoyment must be subordinated to love.” (ibid., p. 34). To overcome objectification and to subordinate pleasure to love, Wojtyla proposes his “personalistic norm.” He writes: “This norm, in its negative aspect, states that the person is the kind of good which does not admit of use and cannot be treated as an object of use and as such the means to an end. In its positive form the personalistic norm confirms this: the person is a good towards which the only proper and adequate attitude is love.” (ibid., p. 41). This is a much better alternative to Prager’s spouses “objectifying” each other.
~“Cleveland Indians to drop Chief Wahoo logo from uniforms” (see https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/371224-cleveland-indians-to-drop-chief-wahoo-logo-from-uniforms). Wow, after 70 years of the logo. This shows us how much pull a group of activists have today.
~“US bishops critical of Trump’s proposed immigration changes” (see https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/us-bishops-critical-of-trumps-proposed-immigration-changes-39984/). This headline and the story it describes also belong in the category of “Tell me something I didn’t already know.”
~“Stone Tools From India: Another Blow To Human Evolution Model?” – Dead Things (see https://blogs.discovermagazine.com/deadthings/2018/01/31/stone-tools-from-india/#.WnMD9hNOmEd). The author of this article (who is not totally sold on the new research) writes: “A new study on stone tools from a site in India offers the latest challenge to the model of human evolution and migration that has dominated paleoanthropology, particularly in the West, for decades. The artifacts, which the researchers say were produced with a sophisticated style of tool-making, are hundreds of thousands of years older than might be expected.” If accurate, that’s quite a “challenge”!
~Don’t forget that Lent begins in less than two weeks…Just 10 days after the Super Bowl!