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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Why I Am Not A Libertarian

As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.
We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.
Consequently, we defend each person’s right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.
The above quote demonstrates why libertarianism can never be something a Christian can embrace. Libertarianism ignores reality. It pretends that all men are equally capable. It is literally insane. Even a cursory glance at the world demonstrates that all men are not created equal in physical ability. Some are smarter, stronger, faster, whatever, than others are. In fact, this is so obvious that every culture in history has reacted to this fact by instituting slavery: enslaving the weaker, stupider, slower, etc. members of the culture.

Christianity was weird because it considered all men equal. It did not assert physical equality - that's stupid. It asserted instead, spiritual equality. We are all equal before God because we are each made in God's image and likeness. We all have an equal shot at salvation. Because we are in God's image, we all have equal rights before God. But even Christianity never asserted that all men are physically equal because, again, that assertion is obviously stupid. Christianity is about embracing reality, it is not about rejecting reality.

The recognition that all men are NOT created equal in ability is what justifies the state. We may all be created equal in rights, but that is pretty much where our equality ends. Draw the line wherever you want, but it must be drawn. Roughly half the population has an IQ below 100 and/or has physical disabilities serious enough to require assistance (e.g., extreme youth, age, disease, etc.). The needs of the physically weak and intellectually stupid are real needs. They really need food, housing, health care, etc.

Now, it is absolutely the case that the upper half (or third or quarter or quintile) in any population has no real, substantial use for government. As one's capabilities increase, one's need for government is correspondingly reduced. But, similarly, as one's capabilities decrease, one's need for a "nanny state" increases. A five-year old cannot be left to his own devices. S/he must frequently be forced to eat vegetables, brush teeth and go to bed. So, (roughly) half the population needs a big government, while the other half needs a small government. These two needs cannot be reconciled.

The most capable half are often tempted to ignore the lower half. Should we even have to listen to the weak and stupid? Well, if we are willing to ask a five-year old what he likes (and what parent doesn't give a child the opportunity to at least make his wishes known), then we should be willing to entertain the pleas of the less capable. That is, the lower half has a right to participate in democracy. And, since all men have equal rights, the lower half even have a right to overrule the upper half. If the upper half are not taking into account the needs of the lower half, the lower half have an absolute right to overrule their "betters" in order to make sure their own needs are taken into account.

So, yes, we have to listen to the lower half and consider what they say. Sure, as with the five-year old, we may not follow their suggestions, but we have to at least listen to them occasionally. And, whether we listen to them or not, we really do have to take care of them.

But there's the snag. The moment we recognize that we have to take care of them, even if only a bit, we have ceased to be libertarians.



Average IQ scores reported in Lynn 2006 from studies done in Europe, North America and East Asia. Each point represents the average IQ score from a single study.  
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_Europe_EAsia_averageIQ_scattergraph.png

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Devil Went Down To GOSH

Many American Catholics are complaining that the overweening authoritarian English government, with its murderous euthanasia and anti-life attitude, has murdered Charlie Gard. They say that it should be the parents' right to pursue the treatment they think best, no matter how slim the likelihood of success. In short, many American Catholics are lying to themselves in order to justify their simplistic take on a complicated situation.

Let us assume Charlie Gard had an eminently treatable disease that could be solved with a simple blood transfusion. With the transfusion, Charlie lives. Without it, he dies.

And what if Charlie's parents didn't want treatment? They were Jehovah's Witnesses who refuse blood transfusions because they think it is Biblical to do so.  Should the parents have the right to "treat" their child with prayer instead of transfusions? Should the government step aside and let the child die because Charlie's parents are nuts?

What if Charlie's parents were medievalists who decided that their child should be treated by purging him - inducing vomiting, diarrhea, and leaching blood from his body - because the medieval ways were best. Are you up for defending that? Parents should have the final say, right?  Government should propose, but never dispose?

Because if your argument is that parents should have the final say in the treatment of a child, then any parent who tries exorcism to treat epilepsy cannot be gainsaid. Any parent who tries to drive out the demon of diabetes with beatings is someone American Catholics must defend. Anyone who trepanned their child's skull in order to heal his schizophrenia is simply pursuing the treatment they think best, as is their right.

If you are not able to defend THOSE parents, if you think those treatments are indefensible, then you admit the government should sometimes take over because the parents - however well-intentioned they may be - are insane.

And, once you admit that parents can sometimes be crazy, you admit that what constitutes "a slim hope" or "a chance of a better life" is not necessarily as clear-cut as you would like.
Doctors had shared the parents’ hopes when Hirano said he had new evidence that Charlie might benefit from NBT, but had learned with “surprise and disappointment” last week that he had neither looked at the child’s brain scans nor read the medical notes, or even other expert opinions or the judgement of the court.
The hospital was also shocked to learn from Hirano that he “retains a financial interest in some of the NBT compounds he proposed prescribing for Charlie,” something that in the U.S. would barely raise an eyebrow, but in the UK is seen as a serious conflict of interest.

Isn't this just a little off-putting? What kind of doctor issues a medical opinion before he has studied anything concerning the patient he claims he wants to treat? Everyone is always concerned about Big Pharma - what about Hirano's financial ties?

Keep in mind that this is an extremely rare condition. If the doctor had a possible treatment, he would have a hard time rustling up subjects. There isn't an animal equivalent, so he can't even run tests on mice, rabbits, apes. He needs human subjects with the condition, and there are hardly any at all.

So, along comes another instance of this very rare disease, you finally have someone you can test and write grant proposals over and... wouldn't you be awfully, awfully tempted to make claims about the efficacy of your treatment just so you can test it out? This disease is so rare it takes months just to find a single subject, and here is a subject, and... and... it sure would be convenient if we could just have him to test for six months.

No one seems to have entertained the possibility that the US doctor was a parasite looking for test subjects, and willing to exploit grieving parents facing a hopeless situation so that he could add a couple data points to his graphs. What if that's all this American doctor really ever was - just the front man for another medical exploitation, of the kind we are all too familiar with?

"The kid's going to die anyway... we might as well test the treatment out on him...." And when parents ask, "Will it hurt?", well, there's only one way the front man is going to answer that question, isn't there? "Will it help him?" Again, there's only one way to answer. He needs data points. He NEEDS data points. Every point helps, this disease is so rare. So...

But, once he has to physically stand in front of his medical colleagues, stand face-to-face with other professionals, how long can the charade continue? Once he gets a chance to physically examine the patient, go through the charts, go through the scans page by dreary page, and then he has to look the treating doctors in the eye... how long could your nerve hold through that?

"Oh, we .... we waited too long. Maybe, if I had gotten here sooner..." He gathers his Superman cape around him, along with the shreds of his dignity, and flies back to America. At least some good comes of it. His name is now well-known to the public. He'll get more cases, more data points. He may have lost the Charlie point, but... he got the publicity, and that's all that really matters.

Meanwhile, the parents have had hopes artificially raised and thoroughly crushed. Their pain is magnified, their anger stoked, and millions pile on, joining their pet causes to Charlie's corpse. Socialized Medicine, Big Government (tm), Medical Exploitation, Modern God Complex....

All the parents wanted was something that never existed. Charlie was born dying. The parents were sold a bill of goods, a pig in a poke, not just by that doctor, but by every person who threw a dollar into their kitty and told them "Charlie will certainly not die! If Charlie simply eats of that pill, his eyes will open, and he will have life."

Charlie Gard's situation is not about parental rights or big government or socialized medicine or anything else that has been hitched to his wagon. Charlie's situation is about Charlie. It was never anything else.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Aquinas on When You Can Steal

Summa Theologiae
Second Part of the Second Part
Question 66


Article 7. Whether it is lawful to steal through stress of need?



I answer that, Things which are of human right cannot derogate from natural right or Divine right. Now according to the natural order established by Divine Providence, inferior things are ordained for the purpose of succoring man's needs by their means. Wherefore the division and appropriation of things which are based on human law, do not preclude the fact that man's needs have to be remedied by means of these very things. Hence whatever certain people have in superabundance is due, by natural law, to the purpose of succoring the poor. For this reason Ambrose [Loc. cit., Article 2, Objection 3] says, and his words are embodied in the Decretals (Dist. xlvii, can. Sicut ii): "It is the hungry man's bread that you withhold, the naked man's cloak that you store away, the money that you bury in the earth is the price of the poor man's ransom and freedom."

Since, however, there are many who are in need, while it is impossible for all to be succored by means of the same thing, each one is entrusted with the stewardship of his own things, so that out of them he may come to the aid of those who are in need. Nevertheless, if the need be so manifest and urgent, that it is evident that the present need must be remedied by whatever means be at hand (for instance when a person is in some imminent danger, and there is no other possible remedy), then it is lawful for a man to succor his own need by means of another's property, by taking it either openly or secretly: nor is this properly speaking theft or robbery.

Reply to Objection 1. This decretal considers cases where there is no urgent need.

Reply to Objection 2. It is not theft, properly speaking, to take secretly and use another's property in a case of extreme need: because that which he takes for the support of his life becomes his own property by reason of that need.

Reply to Objection 3. In a case of a like need a man may also take secretly another's property in order to succor his neighbor in need.



Babytalk

When was the last time it happened? Perhaps you were eating lunch with a friend at work, returning home from a movie, or discussing the ways of the world with a next-door neighbor when a sudden chill entered the conversation.

Abortion. The word had been spoken.

And the realization hit - your partner in conversation was not pro-life. What may have been a pleasant talk suddenly became strained as the supporter of legal abortion hit you with the hard questions - rape, incest, young mothers, fetal deformities - the list is not long, but your answers didn't seem to be either. You have a tough time putting together a response that makes sense to you, much less to your new opponent. Why is this so difficult? How do you answer those questions?

It is difficult because the pro-abortion camps tend to carry hidden assumptions into the conversation - assumptions which the pro-life person often unwittingly accepts. Let's examine a few of the questions and see if we can discover what hidden assumption is contained within each.  

1) You don't have the right to force your opinions on others. 
The person making this statement fails to consider that the statement is, itself, an opinion. Demonstrate this by asking your friend,  "Do you really believe that no one has the right to force their own value system on someone else?"
Your friend will answer, "Yes."
"And you think that I clearly don't accept that idea?"
"Of course not - if you did, you wouldn't be trying to make me live my life according to your value system."
"So, you want to force your values, which I clearly don't subscribe to, onto me? You want to force me to accept the idea that no one should be forced to accept other people's ideas? If you really believe what you say, then you should remain silent when I assert pro-life views, in order to avoid forcing your values onto me."
The hidden assumption here is now obvious - the abortion supporter assumes that his expression of support for abortion is value-neutral while your opposition is morally offensive.  In fact, society regularly forces views on people. The whole system of law is built around it. Rapists, murderers, thieves - none of them prescribe to society’s value system, yet we force our values onto them via prison and execution. Unless your friend is an anarchist, it is unlikely that he really has any opposition to forcing values onto others - he just doesn’t like to have it happen to him.

2) I don't personally agree with abortion but I don't have the right to force my morals on others.
This variation of the first statement assumes that abortion holds a special place apart from the realm of normal human action.
"Let's say your neighbor brought home her newborn from the hospital this morning, and this afternoon you saw her in the back yard crushing the child's skull with a rock. Would you force your morals on her by calling the police?"
"That's different - that's against the law."
"The law is the morality of society. We pass laws against what we don't like (prostitution, drug use, etc.) and in favor of what we do like. She obviously doesn't agree with the law's morality. Yet the whole point of the law is to force some people to do things they don't want to do, or stop doing things they do want to do. If you don't call the police, you are not forcing your morals on her, but by her very action she is forcing her morals on you. She is killing someone, which violates your moral law and the moral law of society.”
Those who favor abortion want to prevent you from speaking out by making you feel guilty about interfering with their free decision to kill. Don’t let them.

3) Would you force a 14 year-old girl to complete a pregnancy? An incest victim? A rape victim?
All three statements assume that getting rid of the effect of an act will somehow make the act less heinous. This is a veiled form of subjectivism  - it assumes that things are not wrong in and of themselves, they are only wrong because of the consequences they create.
In fact, legal abortion makes it easier for men to commit incest and/or have sex with very young girls. In nearly every U.S. state, a 14 year-old who has sex has been statutorily raped. Indeed, the abortion laws of at least two states assert that intercourse with a person less than 16 years old which later results in an abortion must be considered a felony.
We know from Alan Guttmacher studies (a research arm of Planned Parenthood) that the younger the girl having sex, the older her partner is likely to be. In other words, 12, 13, 14 year-old girls are being impregnated by 20, 21, 25 year-old men. We know that 50% of all pregnant girls under the age of fifteen abort. We know that the majority of sexually active teenage girls are, or have been, the victims of sexual abuse. Now, medical personnel are required to report signs of sexual abuse. So, why aren't abortionists reporting the abuse and statutory rapes of these young girls?
One of many cases in point which can be brought forward: in Scottsdale, PA, 1970, a man impregnated his daughter. Because abortion was illegal, this retired plumber waited until his daughter bore the child, a boy, then buried the baby in the basement. The police were alerted to the crime in 1995, and were able to dig up the back yard, identify the bodies, and charge the man with rape and murder.
That man committed incest with his daughter before abortion was legal in Pennsylvania. What would that man do today? He would take his daughters to an abortion clinic and tell the clinic workers (assuming they ask) that the girl was impregnated by her boyfriend. The abortionist wouldn't report it - after all, a fair number of young women come in to be cleaned out. The evidence of the crime is carried out with the rest of the bodies in the morning trash.
Does this happen often? No one knows. Abortion clinics cannot be required to show any data on their patients to anyone. However, a recent study by Life Dynamics, International (LDI) demonstrates that it is much more common than most people realize. LDI created a sting operation in which a woman masqueraded as a 14-year old girl who had been impregnated by her 25-year old boyfriend. Every Planned Parenthood clinic in the continental United States advised the “girl” to come to the clinic to abort, most advised her on how to present herself (fake Ids, don’t mention boyfriend’s age, etc.) so that they would not have to comply with laws regarding statutory rape. Meta Uchtman, director of the Indiana chapter of Suicide Anonymous, says that 80% of the young women who call her hot line have had an abortion. A standard question for women who show signs of clinical depression is "Have you had an abortion?"
When you see a pregnant 14 year-old, look around for the man who is exploiting her. Legal abortion is one of the tools in his arsenal to maintain control. Abortion doesn't help the girl - her risk for suicide after an abortion is nine times higher - it lets the man off the hook for sexual exploitation.
Now what about rape? Consider what rape is. Rape is the violent exercise of power and domination over a woman, an attempt to degrade the woman and make her less than human. What happens to the woman who has an abortion? She exercises violent power over the child in her womb, making that child out to be less than human. The abortionist pushes a knife into the same orifice the rapist had expressed *his* power through just days before. The rapist wanted destruction and death. By aborting, the woman vindicates his desires, remaking herself in the image of the rapist.
How different a statement is made by giving birth! Where the rapist attempted to express powerful violence, the woman raises up peaceful weakness. Where the rapist expressed destroying hatred, the woman raises up growing love. Where the rapist desired death, the woman brings forth life. The rape which results in life is a more powerful denial of the rapist than is rape which results in nothing. The pro-abort may argue that few women will take this point of view, and that is true. But it is true because women have been social conditioned to dislike their own fertility.

4) Abortion is safer than childbirth.
This assertion compares the risk of a surgical procedure to the risks involved in the ninth month of pregnancy. It also assumes the risk calculation is reasonable, which is not necessarily the case.
Surgery adds risk to an individual's health status, it does not detract from risk. Taking powerful abortifacient chemicals *adds* health risks. Consider a woman who is two months pregnant. That woman is more likely to be in good health than is a woman who is one month pregnant and has a chemical or surgical abortion. No matter what stage of pregnancy you consider, the pregnant woman is safer to be pregnant at that stage than she is to be pregnant and have an abortion. In fact, abortion is so dangerous that by the 13th week, it is safer to carry the child to term than it is to have an abortion.
How are the risks for child-bearing calculated? Not very well. For instance, ectopic pregnancies (pregnancies in which the conceptus is "stuck" inside the fallopian tube) are very dangerous because the growing child will eventually rupture the tube, causing severe and probably fatal complications. Abortions only empty the uterus - they don't touch the fallopian tubes. According to CDC rules, if a woman with an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy has an abortion performed, and subsequently becomes ill or dies because her undetected ectopic pregnancy ruptures her fallopian tubes, those problems are ascribed to maternal health risks, not abortion health risks - even if she dies on the abortionist's table.
Recent studies published in Finland and the United States indicate that women who abort are between 150% and 261% more likely to be dead within a year than the general female population, while women who carry to term are less likely to die than the general female population. Abortion is much more deadly than childbirth.

5) It's an arbitrary decision to only consider the embryo as "potential" and not the sperm or unfertilized egg. 
Here the embryo is assumed to be only "potential" human life, and thus no different from a sperm or egg. Yet, consider the differences between the male and female gametes and the fertilized egg.
If an unfertilized egg is left alone in the woman's body, it will never develop into anything. It is all that it can be. You may argue that it can be fertilized, and that is certainly true, but then it's no longer an unfertilized egg, a cell with a single strand of DNA. The egg requires the action of an outside agency to attain this changed state. It's substance is materially altered by that outside agency, the change does not derive from within itself. The unfertilized egg has no potential beyond what it already is.
If a spermatozoon is left alone in a man's body, it will never develop into anything. It is all that it can be. You may argue that it can fertilize an egg, and that is certainly true, but then it no longer exists at all. Its action on another cell essentially destroys it's existence as an independent entity. The change requires an outside agency, it does not derive from within itself. The spermatozoon has no potential beyond what it already is.
A fertilized egg is a created entity, created by a clearly defined, uniquely suited act. If left alone in a woman's body, it will - by itself - alter itself. Unlike either of the gametes discussed above, this entity has a full complement of unique DNA, and it is capable of, indeed, it is designed for, incredible self-modification and growth.
Furthermore, the act which creates the entity is clearly defined and uniquely assigned to this task. As adult human beings who are responsible for their actions, the act clearly lays responsibility for the care of the new human being created on the couple who acted to create. Not only does the entity itself demonstrate its own unique human life, the act leading to that creation itself creates a unique, clearly-defined responsibility in both partners towards the new life.

6) Would you force a woman to carry a malformed fetus to term? 
Even if we agreed that children with health problems should be killed, there is another angle to this argument which is often overlooked - the health risk to the child in the womb created by the act of testing, and the health risk to the woman of aborting a child with a problem. The pro-abort often forgets that most children are healthy, and that it is safer to carry to term than it is to have a second or third trimester abortion.
Generally speaking the tests which detect fetal health problems are chorionic villus sampling (CVS - a procedure in which a small part of the placenta is removed and tested), amniocentesis, and ultrasound. Due to technical considerations, none of the results from these tests can be obtained before the tenth week (the twelfth week for amnio) at the absolute earliest. This means the woman is extremely unlikely to obtain an abortion until the second (and often the third) trimester. She cannot be obtaining the abortion for reasons of physical health - as we have already seen, she would be safer physically if she just carried to term and gave the child up for adoption.
Furthermore, we often forget that most pregnancies are perfectly normal. Thus, these tests are generally being conducted on a normal child. The probability of amnio/CVS causing a miscarriage is about the same as the probability of identifying a genetic problem, i.e. about one percent. If the test is being done because the risks of a genetic problem are considered "significant", then it is also safe to say that these two procedures create a "significant" risk of miscarriage. In addition, CVS is associated with an increase in the probability of limb deformities (missing toes, fingers, etc.).
In short, procedures which test for fetal abnormalities increase the probability of harming a child who is almost certainly normal, in order to detect problems whose only "remedy" is a procedure which is several times more dangerous to the woman than simply giving birth. Essentially, many doctors are on a search and destroy mission for handicapped children, and they force healthy babies and mothers to pay the cost.

7) Abortion before conscious thought is acceptable.
If our humanity derives from our consciousness, then those who are asleep or on the surgery table aren't people. The pro-abort can't respond that the patient was once conscious or will return to consciousness shortly. Corpses used to be conscious - does that make a corpse a person? We have no guarantee that the unconscious patient will wake up. Are there lower limits to what is acceptable for conscious thought? Do you need a certain level of intelligence to be human? If so, does this mean Down's syndrome children aren't human? If we beat you in debate, can we safely kill you? Conscious thought cannot be the criteria by which humanity is judged.

8) Abortion before viability is acceptable.
Viability refers to one's ability to continue to survive. Note that the term presupposes that the entity in question is already alive - the term questions only whether the person will survive much longer. Given the state of modern medicine, viability is a measure of technology, not humanity. If viability did measure humanity, then:

Ÿ Children born prematurely in Zaire would be less human than children born prematurely in the US.
Ÿ Black children in the U.S. would be less human than white children, since black children have a higher infant mortality rate than white children.
Ÿ Navy sailors trapped in a submarine, mountain climbers caught in a snowstorm, the Apollo 13 astronauts - the viability of each is in question, therefore, they are not human. Indeed, the astronauts in the Challenger were not human from the moment of liftoff.
Ÿ Patients on oxygen during surgery are not viable without technology, therefore they are not human.

This sort of confusion has led abortionists to kill aborted children born alive, on the theory that the woman doesn't just "have a right to an abortion, she has a right to a dead fetus." Pro-aborts may reply that such births are very rare, and so they are. Planned Parenthood spokesmen put such occurrences at "one-tenth of one percent". When 1.6 million abortions are performed a year, that means around 160 live births during abortion happen each year. These numbers are known to be low. As Dr. William Cates of the CDC says "It's like turning yourself in to the IRS for an audit. What is there to gain? The tendency is not to report because there are only negative incentives."
The tendency is also not to treat a child who survives an abortion. As one abortionist said of a child who did survive, "That's not a baby. That's an abortion." Such children are generally wrapped in a towel to choke to death on their own mucus, or to die from the horrendous damage the abortion procedure has done to them.

9) Men don't have a right to an opinion on abortion, they do not have a right to oppress women by forcing a woman to carry a child to term.
There are two remarkable assumptions here, but both are very deeply veiled. The first is bound up in the idea that a woman is oppressed by carrying a child. According to this assumption, the fertile woman is the only creature on the face of the earth who is oppressed by her own biology. Her own biology is an enemy which must be subdued through chemical castration (the Pill, Norplant), physical devices, or surgery. In this mindset, a woman's freedom from oppression derives from her sterility, not her fecundity. When this is pointed out to a pro-abort, they will attempt to find an analogy - "using the Pill is like taking aspirin for a headache, or taking antibiotics for an infection". Watch with an amused smile, and then point out that they are comparing a perfectly healthy and normal aspect of female biology to an illness. Does a normally functioning female body require medical intervention by the very fact of its existence? What is being "corrected"?
The second assumption is quite indirect. It is assumed that men have no rights, but they do have responsibilities, and those responsibilities are imposed by the woman.
The argument which follows is often the key to breaking down the pro-choice wall. In the final analysis, biological arguments about the unborn child generally fail. Trying to prove the child to be a human being through biological arguments is very similar to trying to prove the existence of God - unless the person you are talking to has had a direct experience with a child in utero, they are unlikely to be swayed. When the underlying assumption involved in this above statement is unveiled, the pro-abort often gets *extremely* upset. If the argument is presented well, you will be treated to the spectacle of a pro-abort using pro-life arguments in an attempt to refute the logic.

Pro-life: "Is the choice to have sex a choice to have a child?"
Answer: "No"
"No child exists at conception, right?"
"Of course not."
"When would you say that a child clearly exists?" [Agree to use whatever time limit they choose without argument].
Pro-life: "A woman may have an abortion for whatever reason she chooses, correct?"
"Of course."
"Men and women have equal rights?"
"As long as abortion is legal, yes."
"Alright. Who creates children?"
"What do you mean?"
Pro-life: "Well, since we know there is no child at conception, the child must be created at some point X, well after conception. Now, the man only has sex. He's not there after conception (indeed, conception may take place hours after the sexual act). It is only at point X that a child exists. Therefore, the woman alone creates the child through the act of gestation. Legal abortion asserts a new thing. It asserts that sex doesn't create children, it merely creates a fertilized egg, a tissue mass. It is only gestation that creates children.
Men don't get pregnant. Men don't create children. Men simply provide sperm. They provide one-half of a set of blueprints. The woman provides not only the other half, but the building site, the construction materials, she oversees the project, and she can destroy the whole thing anytime she wants. The man has got nothing to do with it.  The existence of a child is not his responsibility - he has no choice, he's done nothing to create responsibility except have sex, and we already know that the decision to have sex is not a decision to have children, nor does it create a child.
So, the idea of compelling child support from the man is really a carry-over from the “pre-sexual revolution patriarchy”, when men were thought to share responsibility for the existence of a child. Now that legal abortion has liberated us from those archaic ideas, we should throw away the last remnants of the old oppression.
If the woman wants to have a child, fine. Why should the man pay to support her lifestyle, her choice? If she can have an abortion for whatever reason she wants, then she is having a child for whatever reason she wants, and in neither case does it have anything to do with the man.
It is nonsense to say the child is genetically his - is the man's twin brother equally responsible for his child? Are you legally responsible for supporting your parents? No, to both. It is equally nonsense to say that the act of impregnation creates responsibility - if the woman has no responsibility towards a child which isn't there, how much less does the man?
Indeed, according to the law, an anonymous sperm donor can never be held for child support, even if he desires to be considered the child's father - and what's the difference between an anonymous sperm donor and one who's name you happen to know?  The second just had a slightly more personal form of delivering sperm. In both cases, the child exists only because the woman decided to allow it to exist. You might argue that the child wouldn't exist without him, but neither would a Ford pickup truck exist without the raw materials from US Steel. Yet we don't hold US Steel responsible for the existence of the pickup truck - we hold responsible the one who built it.
Or consider this analogy. A woman has identical twin boys. One grows up to be a carpenter, the other grows up to be an in vitro fertilization (IVF) specialist. The carpenter gets married, and he and his wife decide to have a child by IVF. The carpenter asks his brother to do the honors, and his brother readily agrees. The carpenter donates his sperm, the doctor extracts an egg from the wife, fertilizes it with sperm, and implants it in the wife's womb. Who is the father? After all, the doctor used sperm genetically indistinguishable from his own and impregnated the carpenter's wife. Doesn't that make him the father? Is he responsible for child support? If not, then why is the carpenter?
If you really believe that men don't have a right to a voice simply because they don't get pregnant, then you ought to support the demolition of existing child support laws. After all, as you say, this child-creation business has nothing to do with men.”
Don't expect these arguments to change hearts in minutes. They won't. However, clear exposition of the life-affirming teachings of the Church, even when presented in a secular style such as this, will sway hearts and minds. Pro-abortion advocates often accept many of the underlying principles espoused by pro-life advocates, even though their rhetoric appears to contradict it. When you can demonstrate the essential self-contradiction of the pro-abort position, you will have gone a long way towards leading these people home.

First published in Envoy Magazine May/June 1997

Little Lost Lambeth

The year is 1932. On the Continent, Adolf Hitler is still eleven months away from gaining control of the German government. Though he continues to search for a way to gain the electoral majority necessary to rule Germany, he has already won a major victory in England, a victory that will continue to grow and metastasize long after he lies dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a burning bunker in Berlin thirteen years in the future. Yet, even as English Churchmen nurture the seed of Hitler's philosophy on their isle, another voice has risen from among the inhabitants of that gallant land. This voice has spent the last two years forming one of the most insightful and strident attacks on Nazi philosophy ever concocted, and it is now, in February, 1932, that the author releases his work into the stream of history.

The battle between the philosophies continues to be fought down to this very day: the battle between the eugenics, advocated in seminal form by the Church of England, and the natural law, upheld by an agnostic who saw the preposterous conclusions to which the contraceptive philosophy must inevitably lead. The agnostic was Aldous Huxley; his book, Brave New World, would constitute not only an incredibly prophetic description of the contracepting society, but also a deft parody of the Christian church which first legalized the idea.

Prior to 1930, contraception had been uniformly condemned by every Christian denomination in the world since the death of Christ. Unfortunately, Darwin's work between 1854 and 1872 had a profound influence on European and American society. His "survival of the fittest" argument soon produced the idea that some human beings were less fit, less worthy to procreate than others. Both sides of the Atlantic forged ahead with applications of this "breakthrough" in scientific understanding. Scientific journals devoted to eugenics, the breeding of a better human animal, soon became common throughout Europe. Francis Galton, the man who coined the word "eugenics," established a research fellowship in University College, London in 1908, and his Eugenics Society began work in the same year. By the early 1920's, Margaret Sanger and several of her English lovers were touting contraception and involuntary sterilization as a way to limit the breeding of the "human weeds," as Sanger called them: the insane, the mentally-retarded, criminals, and people with Slavic, Southern Mediterranean, Jewish, black, or Catholic backgrounds (ironically, Sanger was herself raised by a Catholic mother). Though most supporters of atheistic rationalist scientific progress don't advertise it, Hitler's racial purity schemes were nothing more than the application of 1920's "cutting-edge" biology.

When this attitude encountered Christianity, the results were uniformly explosive. Ever since 1867, Anglican bishops had been meeting roughly every ten years at Lambeth Palace, London in order to discern how best to govern their Church. Mounting eugenics pressures had required the bishops in both the 1908 and the 1920 conferences to fiercely condemn contraception. But the constant eugenics drumbeat would not let up. The 1930 conference brought even greater internal challenges; many of the people advising the bishops were eugenicists, indeed, at least one attendee, the Reverend Doctor D.S. Bailey, would be both a member of the International Eugenics Society and an active participant in the conference. Between the general mood of society and the insistence of advisors, the Anglican bishops were placed under extreme pressure to allow some form of artificial contraception. On August 14, 1930, after heated debate, they voted 193 to 67, with 14 abstentions, to permit the use of contraceptives at the discretion of  married couples.

The decision rocked the Christian world - it was the first time any Christian Church had dared to attack the underlying foundations of the sacred marital act, the act in which another image of God was brought into creation through the parents' participation in co-creation with God. Pope Pius XI, deeply saddened, issued Casti Connubii, just four short months later on Dec. 31, 1930, re-iterating the constant Christian teaching that artificial contraception was forbidden as an intrinsically evil act.

H.G. Well's stories of a scientific utopia combined with the publication of the Lambeth decision and Casti Connubii to fire Huxley's imagination. What would a society which fully endorsed contraception look like? Though Huxley was by no means a Catholic, he possessed a keen intellect and an incisive pen. His conclusions were soon plain - society as we understood it would fail to survive. Writing in the grand tradition of English parody, he constructed a wickedly accurate portrayal of the contraceptive society, written so as to ensure his English audience would recognize his portrayal of the church which had set them on the road towards it. In doing so, he inadvertently created an allegory which supports Catholic teaching.

The Catholic teaching on contraception finds its basis in the book of Genesis and in sacramental theology. Adam and Eve were the original bride and bridegroom, the first married couple, their marriage a natural bond formed by God. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the fruit of the tree, Adam  compounded his sin by publicly repudiating Eve, saying to God, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate" (Gen 3:12). The first couple's twin sins of disobedience and failure to own up to their actions brought twin curses upon them: increased pain in childbirth and increased toil in order to bring forth sustenance from the earth.

Because Adam's descendants were not only in the image and likeness of God, but also in Adam's image and likeness (Gen 5:1-4), Scripture describes the first three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, all suffering from infertility and famine: all three lived out the twin curses of Adam. Further, both Abraham and Isaac were driven into another land in order to avoid their respective famines and both publicly repudiated their wives while in this foreign land, acting in the image of their forbear (Gen 12:10-20, 16:1, 15:21, 26:1-6). Not only did both of Jacob's wives suffered from infertility (Gen 30:1, 30:9), the famine which occurred in the life of Jacob, now named Israel, drove all of Israel's family into Egypt, where they all became enslaved.

Thereafter, the twin curses of famine and infertility weave in and out of the whole long history of Israel's children. The curses would only be broken by the new Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, through the establishment of a new Tree of Life, the Cross (cf. Acts 10:39, Rev 22:2, etc.). The Church was birthed into existence through the pain of the Cross, with Mary, her face twisted in an agony of sorrow, mirroring the face of her crucified Son: "the woman clothed with the sun... cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery" (Rev 12:2). At the Cross, the curse of the pain of childbirth was taken to its limit and destroyed. Similarly, the liturgy of the Mass testifies:
  Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation.
Through your goodness we have this bread to offer,
  Which earth has given and human hands have made.
It will become for us the bread of life.
  Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation.
  Through your goodness we have this wine to offer,
  Fruit of the vine and work of human hands,
It will become our spiritual drink.

The curse of working for sustenance is dealt with in like manner. The toil of our hands is united to the work of God's hands, nailed to the Cross, taken to its limit in death, and also destroyed. Thus, the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, leads His Bride, the Church, to the Cross, the Tree of Life. Christ smashes through the twin curses, and feeds His Bride with the fruit of the Tree - His own Body. By thus receiving the Bridegroom into Herself, the Bride who is the Church, along with all of Her members, is made fruitful and is given life as a child of God. The sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ divinize us (CCC 460, 1988, 1999), allowing us to partake of the Divine Nature (2 Pet 1:4).

  The sacraments of marriage and the Eucharist are inextricably intertwined. The act of marital union is the created image of the reality of the Eucharist, for after the wedding feast, the bride receives the bridegroom into herself and is made fruitful, and both husband and wife are blessed with new life. Because of this correspondence, the active attempt to destroy the fruitfulness of the marital act is not only a rejection of the grace of marriage, but it is also the implicit rejection of the sacrament marriage images, the Eucharist.

  Though Huxley, the man whom a contemporary called a "neo-pagan" and who eventually began to dabble with Hinduism, did not consciously understand the theology which lay under the acts of sexuality and contraception, he instinctively understood their interconnection. Because he wanted his Brave New World society to embrace and live out a contraceptive mentality, it replaces the tree with the industrial complex. Huxley understood that universal sterility is unnatural, and no tree, no living thing could produce it. His utopia parodies Paradise by removing pregnancy; his worldly society thereby removes the curse of the pain of childbirth. His society further insures this by populating itself with abortion clinics and factories which bring children into existence through in vitro fertilization, in vitro gestation, and cloning. Most women are created sterile, but a few are permitted to retain their fertility so their eggs can be harvested in order to produce the next generation. These women are distinguished by their contraceptive cartridge belts, which they are drilled to use from the time of childhood.

The contraceptive society desires not children, but pleasure. Where there is no desire for children, there is likewise no desire for parents - indeed, the very words "mother" and "father" are curse words, the lowest and most vile form of insult. Coincidentally, the phrases "Mary, our Mother" and "Our Father" are insults in certain circles today. But a sterile world is impossible to live with on a daily basis - the delight in worldly pleasure leaves an ever-thirsting spiritual desert. His society solves this problem with soma - the psychedelic wonder-drug which removes the individual from reality. Yet even the use of soma is not enough. People need symbols and liturgy, and Huxley knew it. Fortunately, the Anglican Church left his fictional society a rich legacy. They have the sign of the "T," a reminder of the first mass-produced item in the world, the Model-T Ford, and  not-so-coincidentally a broken echo of the Cross, with its vertical connection to heaven cut off:
"And she had shown Bernard the little golden zipper-fastening in the form of a T which the Arch-Community-Songster of Canterbury had given her as a memento of the weekend she had spent at Lambeth....  'A cardinal,' Mustapha Mond explained parenthetically, 'was a kind of Arch-Community Songster.' " (pp. 118, 157).  
Since the Arch-Community Songster is a quasi-cardinal, he also leads a quasi-liturgy. Huxley spends over half of chapter five describing the liturgical service in detail, the seating arrangements, the music, the distribution of the soma tablets and the "loving cup" filled with soma drink, during which participants experience "the coming of the Ford." Indeed, the very name Huxley chose to describe this drug which takes the imbiber out of the world, soma, is nothing more than the Greek word for "body." It refers to "the body of an animal or plant excluding the germ cells". In other words, the liturgical service is a parody of the Anglican High Mass, recalling the doctrine of the Real Presence; Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, completely present under either species, an offering of love from God to man. It is not an accident that the "loving" cup is quaffed twelve times, recalling the Christian symbolism for the twelve Apostles and the twelve tribes of Israel. And the result of this quaffing is quite intentionally chosen by Huxley - in fact, it characterizes the effect of the entire contracepting society which the Lambeth conference, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, helped create:
"The President made another sign of the T and sat down. The service had begun. The dedicated soma tablets were placed in the center of the table. The loving cup of strawberry ice-cream soma was passed from hand to hand and, with the formula, "I drink to my annihilation," twelve times quaffed. Then to the accompaniment of the synthetic orchestra the First Solidarity Hymn was sung.... "(p. 53)  
Huxley builds an anti-Eucharist, a eucharist which appears to give everything, but gives nothing at all. Its final effect is not redemption, divinization, the partaking of the Divine Nature, it is Annihilation. In other words, Huxley, neo-pagan, quasi-Hindu mystic that he is, recognizes on an intuitive level that contraception necessarily completes the work of the serpent and original sin. In contraception, Huxley finds the work of the anti-Eucharist, the anti-Christ.

  In less than 180 devastating pages, Aldous Huxley not only tears the mask from the face of contraception, he also provides an excellent proof for the necessity of the papal office. The Anglican Conferences which Huxley so neatly parodied demonstrated that any essentially national church must eventually fall prey to the social pressures they operate within. The Anglican Church, having no leader outside of England, was simply unable to protect itself from the concerns of the country and the people to whom they ministered. The fears sown by the eugenicists, the selfishness of the people, were simply too compelling for any religious leader to publicly denounce. Any Church which permitted its doctrines to be socially influenced to this degree would eventually allow their cardinals to become "Arch-Community Songsters." As it turned out, the papal office alone possessed the strength to protect Christianity from the lies bound up within the grinning death's heads of the contraceptive mentality and its twin sister, the abortion mill.

  Though he saw the intrinsic contradictions inherent in the idea of a "contracepting Christian," Huxley did not directly ask the question which everyone tempted towards contraception must answer. That question had already been posed in 1880, 50 years earlier, by another of the of the great authors of literature, Fyodor Dostoevsky. In his masterpiece, The Brothers Karamazov, one of the main characters is being tried for the crime of parricide - murdering his own father. The defense attorney appeals to the jury with a simple, compelling question:
“The conventional answer to [the question "Who is my father?"] is: 'He begot you, and you are his flesh and blood, and therefore you are bound to love him.' The youth involuntarily reflects: 'But did he love me when he begot me?' he asks, wondering more and more, 'Was it for my sake he begot me? He did not know me, not even my sex, at that moment, at the moment of passion, perhaps, inflamed by wine..." (p. 397)  
"Did he love me when he begot me?" When we actively put up chemical or physical walls between ourselves, our lover, and the child which, perhaps, might be begotten, will we truly have loved that child into existence as God loved us into existence, Who gave Himself totally for us, who gives us His flesh and blood in order to make us His flesh and blood? Are we acting in the image of the living God?

First published in Envoy, Sept/Oct, 1998

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Prison Societies

It is usually said that Western democracies are the most free societies on earth. But is that true? This video provides a rather different way of deciding what societies constitute prison societies.


If the information presented above is accurate, and there is no reason to think it is not, then an excellent way to judge how free every country's citizens actually perceive themselves to be is very straightforward: just measure the addiction rates in each country.

There are two or three major classes of addiction, depending on how you count. Alcohol is such a prevalent drug that it generally gets its own category. Opiates and every other drug are grouped together as a separate class. Sex, especially homosexual addiction, is the last major class. So, how do countries fare on the addiction scale?

Alcohol is the preferred addictive drug in Eastern Europe, which leads the world in alcohol addiction. New Zealand, Iran and the United States lead the world in opiate addiction. China has the highest proportion of homosexual addiction, followed closely by industrialized societies like Canada, Germany, and the United States. And, yes, there are cultures that really have no homosexuality or other sex addictions.

Notice that third-world areas, like South America and Africa, simply don't have the addiction problems that industrialized nations do. These areas struggle with famine, disease and poverty, but they don't have addiction problems anywhere near the extent the "advanced" countries do.

Now, this is not to say that living in physical poverty is a walk in the park. Obviously, it is not. But, if the addiction-cage theory is correct, we cannot say industrialized nations are well-off. Industrialized nations simply suffer a different kind of poverty, a poverty of freedom. According to the addiction studies, the industrialized world is simply a series of prison societies.

Which is exactly what the Catholic Church has been saying for the last century.
It's almost like science is finally starting to catch up to theology.