Miscellaneous Meanderings on the signs of the times (Vol. 9, No. 99)
Dr. Mark S. Latkovic
April 1, 2018
~Although Easter falls on April Fools’ Day this year, there’s nothing fake about the Resurrection. It’s neither a joke nor hoax.
~I think the best advice I can offer to those who find getting to sleep difficult is the following: get sleepy.
~I had the unfortunate experience last month of being trapped for almost 5 minutes in the stairwell at Providence Hospital before an echo cardiogram procedure. Luckily the cleaning lady heard my loud knocking. The whole experience was enough to give a guy a heart attack.
~The three ages of man revised: As a young man, I’d lose my heart. As I aged, I’d lose my keys. Now, as an older man, I’m losing my mind.
~When our children are very young, we want them to be strong in order to be able to resist illness and accidents. When they get older, we want them young again so as to be able to “control” them and keep them from the various sorts of dangers that they are prone to as they grow and develop. We also want to hug them like we used to. It’s all very depressing.
~The true fairy tale is the fairy tale, not Christianity. We think life has no mystery, so we look to the fairy tale and to the myth, when in fact we have the greatest story, the greatest tale ever told. And it’s all true – not like Hollywood’s “based on a true story.”
~Reading Kevin D. Williamson’s review of Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress , Viking, 2018 in National Review (see https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2018/03/01/steven-pinker-enlightenment-now-review-failed-quest-meaning/), I ran across this: “Professor Pinker begins with an anecdote about a student who, after a lecture, asked him, ‘Why should I live?’ After satisfying himself that this was not a case of suicidal ideation or mere smart-assery, he answers:
As a sentient being, you have the potential to flourish. You can refine your faculty of reason itself by learning and debating. You can seek explanations of the natural world through science, and insight into the human condition through the arts and humanities. You can make the most of your capacity for pleasure and satisfaction, which allowed your ancestors to thrive and thereby allowed you to exist. You can appreciate the beauty and richness of the natural and cultural world. As the heir to billions of years of life perpetuating itself, you can perpetuate life in return.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but an answer like this to the question of why I should live would very well drive me to kill myself.
~I was born 100 years after the Gettysburg Address. There’s something amazing about that to me, when I think about it.
~How about if our Catholic high schools institute Corporal Works of Mercy programs rather than service hours and service days? Let’s start using (once again) the language of our faith and not the language of our secular culture.
~There are days when you have encounters with people that leave you mumbling to yourself, “They’ve got nothing in the noggin.”
~In I Cor 11:26, Paul says “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” Now, that word “proclaim” stands out for me. In eating and drinking the Lord’s body and blood, we proclaim by remembering (past), by preaching and living (present), and by preparing for the Lord’s return (future).
~The Austin, TX serial bomber Anthony Conditt’s evil, like other heinous acts that seem “motiveless” (e.g., the Las Vegas shooter) beg for an explanation. But the only one that I can say that makes any sense or satisfies is this: the Devil. If the Devil didn’t exist, we’d have to invent him to explain such “senseless” large-scale evil. “‘I wish I were sorry but I am not,’ Conditt said on a video recording he left on his cell phone hours before blowing himself up in his car…” (See https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/03/23/austin-serial-bomber-self-described-psychopath-left-behind-unemotional-trail-murder/454173002/).
~Paul McCartney marched in New York City in the March for Our Lives (see http://variety.com/2018/music/news/paul-mccartney-march-for-our-lives-new-york-john-lennon-1202735685/). “One of my best friends was killed by gun violence…” he said. Now, I thought he was killed by Mark David Chapman.
~If we have #Morality (as one of my students put it), then, I say, we’re going to have #Sins.
~The fertility clinic scandal in Cleveland isn’t really a scandal.
(see http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-fertility-clinic-damaged-eggs-20180311-story.html#nt=inbody-1). Scandals happen only when what you’re doing is a good thing that’s gone bad. Well, there’s nothing good about freezing embryos. That’s the real scandal: freezing human embryos.
~The acclaimed progressive rock group, Merillion’s 2016 song “El Dorado (IV): FEAR,” from their fabulous album FEAR, has these lines: “The wars are all about money / They always were / And the money’s dressed up in religion / And when it’s not showing off, the money’s hiding” (see https://genius.com/Marillion-el-dorado-iv-f-e-a-r-lyrics). Well, not all wars. Some are fought over ideology. Even fighting over money has some deeper cause or ideology underneath it, it seems to me. Here’s the link to the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hulRCXm_tIg.
~Catholic author Melinda Selmys’ “Is Contraception the New Usury?” (See http://www.patheos.com/blogs/catholicauthenticity/2018/03/is-contraception-the-new-usury/#41dgrX5mMyx7Ykdz.01) would benefit from reading the late moral theologian Germain Grisez on the question. Grisez writes: “The question is: Did the condemnation of the taking of interest ever meet the conditions for the infallible exercise of the ordinary magisterium (35‑D)? The answer is negative, for the following reasons.” (See http://www.twotlj.org/G-1-36-G.html for the rest of Grisez’s response).
~In a CNA article title, “Analysis: Overturning Humanae Vitae’s teaching, a ‘crime against the Church’” (see https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/analysis-overturning-humanae-vitaes-teaching-a-crime-against-the-church-17847), we read the following:
“Cardinal Mueller’s remarks referred in particular to the article ‘Re-read Humanae Vitae in light of Amoris Laetitia’ by the Italian theologian Maurizio Chiodi, who was recently appointed a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
The article, published at the end of January in the Italian Bishop Conference’s outlet Avvenire, is drawn from a lecture Chiodi gave at the Pontifical Gregorian University, as part of a series of conferences organized by the Jesuit university in Rome to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bl. Paul VI’s encyclical.
In his lecture, Fr. Chiodi said that ‘there are circumstances that require the use of contraception,’ because in these cases the ‘technical intervention does not deny the responsibility of procreative relationships.’
He also stressed that ‘the insistence of the Church’s Magisterium on natural methods cannot be interpreted, in my opinion, as a norm which is an end in itself, nor as a mere conformity with biological laws, because the norm points to an anthropology, to the good of marital responsibility.’
In the end, Fr. Chiodi said, ‘an artificial method for the regulation of birth could be recognized as an act of responsibility that is carried out, not in order to radically reject the gift of a child but because in those situations, responsibility calls the couple and the family to other forms of welcome and hospitality.’”
Fr. Chiodi seems truly confused. Is he unaware that his arguments have been adequately dealt with these past five decades? The Church’s teaching condemning contraception has nothing to do with the distinction between natural and artificial methods (Although there are crucial differences to be noted). Contraception is always immoral when freely chosen precisely because it is a choice to impede procreation.
~“IVF Testing Spurs a Debate Over ‘Mosaic’ Embryos” (see https://www.wsj.com/articles/ivf-testing-spurs-a-debate-over-mosaic-embryos-1521644178). The author of the March 21, 2018 article, Sumathi Reddy, notes that “Until about two years ago, the [preimplantation genetic screening, PGS] test only distinguished between normal and abnormal embryos. If an embryo’s cells have the correct number of chromosomes—46—it is labeled euploid, or normal. Such embryos have a 50% to 60% chance of resulting in a baby. If an embryo has cells with a missing or extra chromosome it is considered aneuploid, or abnormal, and not recommended for use [Note that word, use]. With the use of next-generation sequencing technology came a finer degree of resolution and PGS became able to identify mosaic embryos. These are embryos with a mix of normal and abnormal cells. Some experts say as many as 20% of embryos created for IVF are mosaic.” Here’s what’s lost or not recognized in this entire discussion: we’re talking about living human embryos, i.e., beings of incomparable value and dignity that are created in God’s image and likeness, as if they were mere biological material or property.
~Razib Khan, “Humanity’s Genes Reveal Its Tangled History” (see https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/03/book-review-david-reich-human-genes-reveal-history/). After reading this fascinating piece that describes the recent revision of the (“out of Africa”) story of human origins, I couldn’t help but think of the debate over global warming. Science should never be considered definitely settled.
~Now, here’s a fertility treatment the Church can support, at least if what we read in this article – “Stem-cell breakthrough brings new fertility hope for women” – is accurate (see https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/stem-cell-breakthrough-brings-new-fertility-hope-for-women-2zhfdbbzn). “A stem cell treatment has reversed the early menopause in several women, raising the prospect of restoring fertility and eliminating the need for hormone replacement therapy. In one case, a Canadian doctor’s ovaries had prematurely stopped functioning six years previously but were ‘rejuvenated’ after researchers transplanted cells from her bone marrow. Her periods resumed seven months later.” Here is modern science at its moral and medical best.
~What if the U.S. attacked North Korea? Would it be a just war? This is the question asked in this news analysis (see https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/commentary-would-attacking-north-korea-be-just-war-38164). The author argues as follows: “Rather than striking pre-emptively, Church teaching talks about legitimate military action in self-defense, and only when certain conditions are met.” That’s true, but I think that the notion of self-defense can be expanded to include some preemptive strikes (not necessarily on North Korea) under certain conditions.
~Theologian C.C. Pecknold’s “Commentary: Placuit Deo against new paradigms” (see https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/commentary-placuit-deo-against-new-paradigms-18800) is a good treatment of the new document from the CDF. Well worth reading.
~A female rabbi, Tamara Kolton, has written a truly astonishingly stupid piece titled, “Why Eve is the spiritual mother of #metoo” (see https://www.freep.com/story/opinion/2018/03/03/me-too-bible-eve/364158002/), arguing that Genesis describes God sexually assaulting Eve. Ben Shapiro has a great rebuttal to it that should not be missed (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVCKKw-IO8Y). Let me just add, or rather emphasize, the following: Adam doesn’t get away scott-free (For example, see Rom 5:12).
~“Millennials defined as people born between 1981 and 1996, Pew decides” (see https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/03/01/millennials-defined/386562002/). Well, that means that three of our four children are “officially” Millennials and one – whose generational tag will be named later? (Gen Z?) – is not.
~Walter Cardinal Kasper wants us to stop throwing around the word “heretic” (see https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2018/03/05/cardinal-kasper-quit-throwing-around-word-heretic). That might stop when people stop throwing around dogma and doctrine.
~The always-worth-reading Bruce Thorton, “Let Our Stale Foreign Policy Dogma Leave with Tillerson” (see https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/269602/let-our-stale-foreign-policy-dogma-leave-tillerson-bruce-thornton), sums up insightfully our State Department’s foreign policy under the former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in but a mere dozen plus words: “a failed foreign policy idealism predicated on naïve internationalism and a fetish for verbal processes.”
~Here’s the headline: “US attitudes on moral issues more liberal than global average: poll” (see https://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=36009). The poll looked at sexual morality. Of course it’s sex. Would it have been any other issue?
~The headline, “Only half of US children are being raised by their married parents” (see https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/only-half-of-us-children-are-being-raised-by-their-married-parents-25600), is a frightening one because we know what the social science shows: that these children do not do as well on many different important indicators of well-being as those raised by their married parents.
~“Vatican aims to ‘change the narrative’ on migrants, refugees” from negative to positive to (see https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vatican-aims-to-change-the-narrative-on-migrants-refugees-28783). But what if the narrative is true – at least in part?