Knowing and “Knowing”

The Anchoress asks us to pray for Emily Letts, the woman who aborted her baby on youtube. No matter what Emily’s words say, her face says more.
Click on through and add this woman to your prayer chain.
Back in the early 80s I had an abortion that I too, thought would be a “nothing” affair. Well, maybe a little bit more than nothing, but certainly it was what “had” to be done.
The exact moment that he/she was suctioned out, I was empty.
It took awhile to crawl back from that. I suspect others were praying for me, like I’ll do for Emily.

Rapid Fire Blogging

Sheesh, I’m late again…..
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Taxes/Fees/Where the power lies.
Coyote Blog notes something we’ve all seen. Municipalities (or other government entities) work in cahoots with some big name (like a sports facility) to divy up money and give more money away. The people have no power to stop this except to vote against bonds. In retaliation, the government entities threaten lack of protective services, or less money for roads etc.
We have their number, but still can’t seem to call.
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The coming debate. Romney sees it as a breakpoint, which I’m sure we’re hoping it is. This article sounds like he’ll be very prepared. He did great at not overplaying his superior debating skills during the primaries so I have high hopes, but Obama is such a douche that it would be very hard to have to refute him without sounding condescending. Good luck Mitt!
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Cool. Photo of the universe.
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A fun story about fracking: or rather about a movie about fracking that had to change from being about the fracking bad guys who frack to the fracking bad guys who infiltrate the environmental movement and make the movement look so bad that the fracking bad guys look good, but in reality the reasonable movement is right all along.
(Someone actually suggested that’s what happened in Longmont to me. I busted a gut as I personally know some of those crazy protesters.)
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Matt Welch’s rundown on the Obama speech of what we “must” do and what we “must” think and how we “must” react.
My own takeaway? Obama continues to make certain that everyone on the playground has equal merit. “No worries, we understand you have your own way of doing things which is perfectly good too, just like our way is”.

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Ruth Marcus tries some math and fails on many many levels. But this line cracked me up.

Lower top rates do not correlate with increased savings, investment or productivity, the CRS found. Top tax rates, it concludes, “appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie.”

But lower top rates do help the rich serve themselves a heftier slice of that pie. Reducing top rates, the CRS noted, appears “associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top.”

Apparently if you lower the tax rates of the rich, all that extra money they get to keep will go into their mattresses.

Catholic Bishops Fighting for Occupiers

Yes, the Catholic Bishops realize that individuals make up organizations and if organization have rights, then so too should the individuals. Just like if the individual has the right, then so too should the organization that the individual belongs to.

The Obama administration was not against an exemption per se, it just wanted a narrow one that only covered church employees serving members of their own faith with jobs pertaining to the inculcation of religious belief. The Catholic bishops, it seemed, wanted a more robust exemption that covered institutions of faith, including hospitals, universities, and other social service providers.

Now the bishops have made clear that the contraception mandate must be rescinded, because, in their view, even a more expansive exemption cannot sufficiently protect religious freedom.

The bishops did not have to take this route, but all those who cherish religious liberty should be glad they did. If the bishops settled for a more expansive accommodation, they might have been able to get an exemption for their hospitals and universities (including my own, Notre Dame). That would have been the easy way to “preserve” religious liberty while also retaining the mandate.

But what, then, would the bishops have said to business owners who likely would not have been covered by a more expansive exemption? How could church leaders say that it’s wrong for church institutions to pay for contraception and abortifacients, but that Catholic business owners must cover these costs?

The exemption approach might have allowed the bishops to secure religious liberty for their institutions, but not for all their followers. That would have been a failure of moral authority and political strength to protect the common good.

So while EJ Dionne is looking for taxpayers to foot the bills of causes made by people who don’t care enough about an issue/election to actually create an official organization that can raise funds from smaller sources in order to combat “Citizens United”, the Catholic Bishops actually work for the right of the little people who don’t have the official organization to stand up to the government.

ps – as long as we’re on the Catholic Bishops and the HHS directive on contraceptive, let’s throw in this outrage of the day where Obama essentially uses taxpayer money to help his election. Obamacare will usher in problems with the very popular (and might I add under budget) Medicare Advantage plans starting in October of this year when seniors have to pick their plans for 2013. (bold is mine)

But the administration’s devised a way to postpone the pain one more year, getting Obama past his last election; it plans to spend $8 billion to temporarily restore Medicare Advantage funds so that seniors in key markets don’t lose their trusted insurance program in the middle of Obama’s re-election bid.
The money is to come from funds that Health and Human Services is allowed to use for “demonstration projects.” But to make it legal, HHS has to pretend that it’s doing an “experiment” to study the effect of this money on the insurance market.
That is, to “study” what happens when the government doesn’t change anything but merely continues a program that’s been going on for years.
Obama can temporarily prop up Medicare Advantage long enough to get re-elected by exploiting an obscure bit of federal law. Under a 1967 statute, the HHS secretary can spend money without specific approval by Congress on “experiments” directly aimed at “increasing the efficiency and economy of health services.”

Thank you Benjamin E. Sasse and Charles Hurt for showing us yet another bit of deception. And Thank you Matt Drudge for making it a red headline!

Don’t Tell Hockey Fans there will be no National Anthem!

Morgan over at House had this video and Tim, a commenter had this to say:

Those people, kids it looked like, embody the spirit of what we need to doing in this country right now. Be vigilant and stop accepting the crap sandwich being force feed to us. We don’t need no stinking music, sing loudly. Others will join in.
“…and the home… of the…brave.”

Which brings me to this George Weigel piece about the Catholic bishops’ statement and how they “drew their line in the sand” yesterday in a very big way.

…“United for Religious Freedom” usefully clarifies just what the argument is not:

This is not about access to contraception, which is ubiquitous and inexpensive. . . . This is not about the religious freedom of Catholics only, but also of those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block. This is not about the bishops’ somehow ‘banning contraception,’ when the U.S. Supreme Court took that issue off the table two generations ago. Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is, instead, about the federal government forcing the Church . . . to act against Church teachings. This is not a matter of opposition to universal health care, which has been a concern of the Bishops’ Conference since 1919, virtually at its founding. This is not a fight we want or asked for, but one forced upon us by government on its own timing. Finally, this is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue.

Carry on…..sing loudly….we’ve got your back.

The Anchoress

Mother Teresa

People of faith understand this. People who are willfully resistant to its urgings do not want to understand it, and they jeer at it or try to misrepresent what this “darkness” is all about, but I don’t think you can be a serious, thoughtful Christian and not have doubt, not struggle, sometimes with faith. And for those who have given it all, have allowed themselves to be used up until they literally have nothing left to give, it seems to me that such dark nights would be unavoidable.

Amen.

Faith

Let’s do a column review eh?
From the Washington Post today is a Sam Harris column.

The Sacrifice of Reason
Humanity has had a long fascination with blood sacrifice. In fact, it has been by no means uncommon for a child to be born into this world only to be patiently and lovingly reared by religious maniacs who believe that the best way to keep the sun on its course or to ensure a rich harvest is to lead him by tender hand into a field or to a mountaintop and bury, butcher, or burn him alive as offering to an invisible (and almost certainly fictional) God.

I would venture to note here that because we are human we look for the answers to the questions. We don’t just let it be. And we don’t look for excuses for the blood sacrifice. Why does the sun move across the sky? Well last week – so and so lost their baby, maybe it has to do with that?

In many ancient cultures whenever a nobleman died, other men and women allowed themselves to be buried alive so as to serve as his retainers in the next world.

Let’s just say here that the rich are different. eh? I’ll skip the next part about other ritual killings that go on just so I don’t copy the entire article.

It is essential to realize that such impossibly stupid misuses of human life have always been explicitly religious.

I would note that the impossibly stupid misuses of human life that Mr. Harris mentions are explicitly religious.

They are the product of what certain human beings think they know about invisible gods and goddesses, and of what they manifestly do not know about biology, meteorology, medicine, physics, and a dozen other specific sciences that have more than a little to say about the events in the world that concern them.

Again – an attempt (yes, feeble attempt) to know.

And it is astride this contemptible history of religious atrocity and scientific ignorance that Christianity now stands as an absurdly unselfconscious apotheosis. As John the Baptist is rumored to have said upon seeing Jesus for the first time, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). For most Christians, this bizarre opinion still stands, and it remains the core of their faith. Christianity amounts to the claim that we must love and be loved by a God who approves of the scapegoating, torture, and murder of one man—his son, incidentally—in compensation for the misbehavior and thought-crimes of all others.

Actually – Christianity suggests that we love the God who so loved us that He understood who we were/are and where we come from and what we’re like. There wasn’t “approval” in the scapegoating/torture and murder.

Let the good news go forth: we live in a cosmos, the vastness of which we can scarcely even indicate in our thoughts, on a planet teeming with creatures we have only begun to understand, but the whole project was actually brought to a glorious fulfillment over twenty centuries ago, after one species of primate (our own) climbed down out of the trees, invented agriculture and iron tools, glimpsed (as through a glass, darkly) the possibility of keeping its excrement out of its food, and then singled out one among its number to be viciously flogged and nailed to a cross.

Huh? The whole project was brought to glorious fulfillment? I’m unsure why he thinks the project was done with then and he doesn’t explain it. Yes there are plenty of religious people that think we are the apex of glory – but probably not most. Time changes. People grow/change/mature. God knows that – why doesn’t Mr. Harris.

The notion that Jesus Christ died for our sins and that his death constitutes a successful propitiation of a “loving” God is a direct and undisguised inheritance of the scapegoating barbarism that has plagued bewildered people throughout history. Viewed in a modern context, it is an idea at once so depraved and fantastical that it is hard to know where to begin to criticize it.

I’d venture to suggest he thinks it’s depraved because he doesn’t understand that God wasn’t the depraved one. Humans were.
(skipping the part about mass)

And now we learn that even Mother Teresa, the most celebrated exponent of this dogmatism in a century, had her doubts about the whole story—the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the existence of heaven, and even the existence of God:

Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one — the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone … Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony.

So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me — When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. — I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?
— addressed to Jesus, at the suggestion of a confessor, undated

Teresa’s recently published letters reveal a mind riven by doubt (as it should have been). They also reveal a woman who was surely suffering from run-of-the-mill depression, though even secular commentators have begun to politely dress this fact in the colors of the saints and martyrs. Teresa’s response to her own bewilderment and hypocrisy (her term) reveals just how like quicksand religious faith can be.

Yes – faith can come and go but that doesn’t equate to God not existing.

Her doubts about God’s existence were interpreted by her confessor as a sign that she was sharing Christ’s torment upon the cross; this exaltation of her wavering faith allowed Teresa “to love the darkness” she experienced in God’s apparent absence. Such is the genius of the unfalsifiable.

Teresa asked specifically to feel what Jesus felt on the cross. Kind of a “be careful what you wish for scenario.

We can see the same principle at work among her fellow Catholics: Teresa’s doubts have only enhanced her stature in the eyes of the Church, having been interpreted as a further evidence of God’s grace.

We all have doubts. Jesus knew/knows and accepts that. Teresa sharing those doubts would of course enhance her stature because she becomes more human in the process. When Jesus felt forsaken on the cross it allowed humans to realize that God really did come to earth as human – with all the human frailties accepted.

Ask yourself, when even the doubts of experts are thought to confirm a doctrine, what could possibly disconfirm it?

Mr. Harris seems to think we know everything. Now. In full. Better than God. Kind of like those sacrificers at the beginning of his column. “If we just kill this baby, then the sun will rise” “Because Teresa had doubts and I don’t feel Him, He doesn’t exist”
I don’t believe that. But I have the grace of faith. I realize I’m lucky for that. I don’t deserve it, I just have it. Why doesn’t Sam? I don’t know. But I can’t know what’s going to happen on Tuesday. God I expect can handle it.

It is curious though why atheists are driven so nuts by people of faith that they write columns/books about it. Conveniently there is a lot of faith out there in many different forms so there’s always something interesting about it. Conveniently a lot of people claim to do things in God’s name when really they are doing it in their own name.