Not content to let your furry friends miss out on tablet entertainment, Friskies has produced three feline-friendly games. The apps utilize research on how cats respond to stimuli and make for some great entertainment for both pets and their owners.
Most people believe that the principal objections, or even the only objections, to the drive to legalize homosexual “marriage” spring from religious faith. But that is simply not true. Beginning with this post I’ll offer ten objections that have nothing to do with any religion at all, except insofar as the great religions of the world happen to reflect the nature of mankind. These objections spring from three sources. The first is a commonsense observation of man — his needs, his shortcomings, and his aspirations. The second is a consideration of history: our own recent history, and the history of those who once committed the mistakes we are committing now. The last is logic, that relentlessly honest instrument of thought. The objections are such as should make everyone in our world uncomfortable, both those who call themselves conservative and are busy destroying the heritage of western civilization, and those who call themselves liberal and are busy curtailing and denying every freedom but that of the zipper.
1. The legalization of homosexual “marriages” would enshrine the sexual revolution in law.
Forty years ago, we were advised by popular singers that we needed to open our hearts to love, meaning a free and easy practice of sexual intercourse, without what were called “hangups”. Modesty was decried as prudishness, and chastity ridiculed as either impossible or hypocritical. Experimentation abounded: the so-called “open marriages,” public intercourse, intercourse under the influence of psychedelic drugs. A few of the experiments fizzled out for a time, though they are now resurging, as witness the sewer of websites devoted to “swingers.” The #### explosion shows no sign of abating, having been given its second life by the internet….
Is there any honest observer of our situation, or any political partisan so intransigent, who dares to argue that the results have not been disastrous? We were told that the legalization of abortion would lead, paradoxically, to fewer abortions, and fewer instances of child abuse. Instead it led to far more abortions than even the opponents ever imagined, and it so cheapened infant life that child abuse spiked sharply upward….
We were told that the legalization of contraceptive drugs would lead to fewer unwanted children — certainly to fewer children born out of wedlock. Anyone with a passing familiarity with the human race should have known otherwise. Whatever one may believe about contraception, one must admit the historical fact: by reducing the perceived risk of pregnancy almost to zero, contraception removed from the young woman the most powerful natural weapon in her arsenal against male sexual aggression. She no longer had any pressing reason not to concede to the boyfriend’s wishes….
2. It would, in particular, enshrine in law the principle that sexual intercourse is a matter of personal fulfillment, with which the society has nothing to do.
It is hard for us to imagine, in a world of mass entertainment and its consequent homogenization of peoples, how central an event the marriage is in every culture. It marks the most joyful celebration of a people, who see their own renewal in the vows made by the young man and the young woman. For although marriage focuses upon the couple (and it is interesting to remember that even our word focus is a marriage word, denoting in Latin the hearth), it does so because the couple embody a rejuvenation in which everyone, young and old, male and female, take part….
Of course [marriage] is personal and private: and it is public, and universal, even cosmic. It bridges two chasms that must be bridged, lest the culture, that is the cultivation of all that a people most dearly cherish, wither away, and the people separate one from another, into a suspicious world of privacy. One chasm is that which divides the generations. At the true wedding, the elders know that the future belongs to the couple, who in their love that night, or on a night soon to come, will in turn raise up yet another generation. Sexual intercourse is, as a brute biological fact, the act by which we renew mankind. We celebrate the wedding because it betokens our survival, our hope for those to come after us.
But we could not have children without the bridge thrown over the more dangerous divide, that which separates two groups of human beings who seldom understand one another, whose bodies and psyches are so markedly different; who try to love one another, and so often fail, yet who try again for all that. I mean men and women. The wedding is a symbol of the union of differences: the generations, certainly, and separate families, but most strikingly, man and woman. The very word sex derives from Latin sexus, denoting that which separates; it is cognate with a whole host of words for severance, such as (in English) schism, scissors, sect, shed.…
What man and woman do in the marriage bed is not “have” sex; the sex, that is the separation, they are provided with already. What they do is to unite, across the separation. And unless man and woman unite — and, given their differences, it always amazes me that they can — the culture cannot survive. The women will split away to protect their persons and their relatively few children; the unattached males will pass the dull hours in destruction.
3. It will drive a deeper wedge between man and woman.
The unhappy parting of man and woman that I have described in argument 2 is already a common feature of our day….
Perhaps the reader will ask what homosexuality has to do with this problem. It is simple: the acceptance of homosexuality is predicated upon the tacit assumption that male and female are not made for one another. It defines male apart from female, female apart from male; or it leaves those terms free-floating, without definition. Young men and young women already are growing up without understanding what they are to be for one another. Again, the results are predictable. Fewer young people marry. When they do marry, their emphasis on personal fulfillment, rather than on interpersonal and complementary gifts, bodes ill for the survival of the marriage; for a spouse will destroy many a foolish daydream of youth. They will have fewer children. In no western country does the birth rate now assure even a replacement of one generation by the next; in many countries, the birth rate is so low as to constitute a slow and numb despair, a resignation to cultural suicide….
5. It will curtail opportunities for deep and emotionally fulfilling friendships between members of the same sex, opportunities that are already few and strained. This is particularly true of men….
Let me give you an analogy. Our sexual customs constitute a language, one that we must all use, whether we like it or not. If, all at once, clothing becomes optional on a certain beach, then that beach is a nude beach. If you wear your suit to that beach, your action has a meaning it did not have before. At the very least it means that you do not approve of public nudity. It may mean that you are ashamed of your body. It may mean that your religion forbids it. It may mean you are a prude. But it does signify something; and it must. You cannot say, “It means nothing to me,” simply because language is by its nature public and communal. Suppose the incest taboo were removed. You may say, “I will hug and kiss my niece in any case,” but your actions will now have a significance they did not have before. The shadow of the thought must cross any beholder’s mind; it might cross the niece’s mind. If you were at all considerate of her feelings, you would hesitate before you did it.
The incest taboo is surely not irrational: it allows members of a family the freedom to share each other’s company, in what might otherwise be often embarrassing circumstances, and to touch, in ways that would mean something, were it not a brother or an aunt giving the kiss. On pain of expulsion from the group, that taboo must be upheld, so that the deep feelings and intimacy of a family may develop freely and sanely….
Not so long ago, it was conceivable to suppose that two men might share an apartment merely as close friends; if Oscar and Felix of The Odd Couple did the same thing now, homosexuality would be the first thing to cross your mind, whether you support the homosexual agenda or reject it. One of my students related to me an incident that happened to him in a bar. His closest buddy had been abandoned by his girlfriend, and was weeping freely as the young man cradled his head in his arms. A young lady walked up to them and chirpily asked them if they were gay.
The effect upon boys is devastating; it is hard for women to understand it. Their own friendships come easily, and in general are not based upon shared conquest, physical or intellectual. It is simply an anthropological fact that male friendship is essential for the full development of the boy’s intellect: the history of every society reveals it. But now the boys suffer under a terrible pincers attack. The sexual revolution causes them to rouse themselves to interest, or to pretend to interest, in girls long before they or the girls are emotionally or intellectually ready for it; and now the condonement of homosexuality prevents them from publicly preferring the company of their own sex. This is simply inarguable….
6. It leaves us with no logical grounds for opposing any form of consensual intercourse among adults.
No culture in history has accepted (even celebrated!) homosexual acts between adult men or adult women. (I will deal with the case of Athens in a later post; it is lethal to the homosexual cause.) But plenty of cultures have accepted polygamy, or, more appropriately, polygyny, the marriage of one man to several wives. Certain religions allow it or encourage it: Islam allows a man to have up to four wives, and radical Mormonism is, as I understand it, even more generous….
What grounds could we possibly have to deny people the opportunity to marry more than one person? If we establish as a matter of law that marital relations are free to any two people who consent, why limit the number to two? Polygyny, after all, is much easier to justify than are homosexual relations: it does not violate the biology of the people involved; it brings forth many children; it preserves the ideal of the union of male and female. But what would happen if the door were opened to polygyny? Would we not find ourselves, almost overnight, in a world utterly different from the one into which we were born? Nor would it be enough to say to oneself, “I do not believe in it; I will never marry another.” What about one’s spouse? What about the members the opposite sex whom you may happen to meet? In every culture that allows polygyny, the pressure of the possibility of dalliance and marriage, no matter who you are (for it turns married men instantly into eligible bachelors), compels the severest separation of roles for men and women. Is that what we want?
On what grounds could we deny any combination of people who wish to “marry”?…
Mali seems to be undergoing some kind of Coup d’Etat. Very angry soldiers have taken over the presidential palace, forcing the president to flee, and have suspended the constitution and all other relevant institutions. It seems to be the inevitable rolling down hill of insanity kicked off by the Libyan conflict, or at least that’s what everyone is saying, combined with an increasing influence of radical Islam in the north with a dash of Al-Qaeda to keep everything spicy. The mishandling of the northern uprising is the stated reason for a power grab, even with elections supposed to be happening at the end of April. Was rather startled, at 11 last night, to see that the name of the leader of the coup is Sanogo, the main family name from the region where I grew up….
So, for those of you prone to complaining about incivility in politics and a too long primary season, take a few moments today to pray for Mali—for ordinary Malians who don’t need this right now, for people who wanted to fly out yesterday and now can’t, for many many missionaries and aid workers who would like to be able to travel and work but who are holing up along with everyone else and trying to keep away from stray shooting. And I’m praying that this Sanogo guy is not from my village.
Nothing in the gay-marriage debate adds up. Nothing. For example, gay-marriage rights are presented as a radical rallying cry on a par with the struggles for women’s suffrage or black civil rights, and yet they’re enthusiastically backed by such superbly un-radical institutions as The Times, Goldman Sachs and David Cameron. Politicians say they must do ‘the right thing’ on gay marriage, just as earlier politicians eventually did the right thing on giving women the vote, neglecting to mention that there has been absolutely no sustained public agitation, no leaping in front of the Queen’s horse, for the right of gays to get hitched. Self-selected gay spokespeople present this effort as the logical conclusion to their 60-odd years of campaigning for equality, overlooking the fact that a great many gay activists once saw marriage and the family as problems, and demanded recognition of their right to live outside of those institutions….
Given its surreality, it is remarkable that so many intelligent people are taking the gay-marriage issue at face value, seriously saying ‘Yes, I fully support the enactment of this long-traduced historic right’. What they should be doing is asking why gay marriage is an issue at all and untangling how it came to be a defining battleground in the modern Culture Wars. Because it strikes me that what is happening here is that, under the cover of ‘expanding equality’, we are really witnessing the instinctive consolidation of a new class, of a new political set, which, lacking the familiar moral signposts of the past, has magicked up a non-issue through which it might define itself and its values.
The reason the gay-marriage issue can feel like it came from nowhere, and is now everywhere, is because it is an entirely top-down, elite-driven thing. The true driving force behind it is not any real or publicly manifested hunger amongst homosexual couples to get wed, far less a broader public appetite for the reform of the institution of marriage; rather it is the need of the political and media class for an issue through which to signify its values and advertise its superiority. Gay marriage is not a real issue – it is a cultural signifier, like wearing a pink ribbon to show you care about breast cancer….
One of the most striking things about gay marriage is the disparity between mass feeling for the issue (which is best described as weak to non-existent) and elite passion for it (which is intense). All sorts of elite institutions, from political parties to massive corporations, are lining up to back the gay-marriage ‘cause’, clearly having sensed that it is the issue through which their kind can now make a display of their sanctity. So not only are old-world, conservative media institutions such as The Times and right-wing parties like the Conservatives declaring their support for gay marriage, so is the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein. He has become a spokesman for one of America’s largest gay-rights group, appearing in its adverts to say ‘I support marriage equality’.
Gay marriage is clearly looked upon as an opportunity to demonstrate ‘true statesmanship’ at a time when other opportunities to do so are few and far between for our aloof rulers.
The transformation of gay marriage into a barometer of moral decency explains why the debate about it is so shot through with censoriousness and condemnation. That is another striking difference between the old genuinely democratic reformers and today’s gay-marriage supporters – where the proper reformers were in favour of openness and debate, the gay-marriage lobby seems far more keen to stifle dissent. As a writer for the Guardian put it, ‘There are some subjects that should be discussed in shades of grey, with acknowledgement of subtleties and cultural differences. Same-sex marriage is not one of those. There is a right answer.’ This is clearly not a political issue as we would once have understood it, where different views clash and compete for support; rather it is more akin to a new religious stricture, where the aim is to distinguish between those who are Good (the elite enthusiasts for gay marriage) and those who Bad (the people who oppose or can’t get excited about it)….
But even in its own terms, gay marriage is a bad idea, for many reasons. Primarily because, while it is presented to us as a wonderfully generous act of cultural elevation (of gay couples), it is more importantly a thoughtless act of cultural devaluation (of traditional marriage). An institution entered into by millions of people for quite specific reasons – often, though not always, for the purpose of procreation – is being casually demoted, with the Lib-Con government even proposing that the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ no longer be used in official documents. The overnight Orwellian airbrushing of two such longstanding titles from public records demonstrates the extent to which the elite is willing to ride roughshod over traditional identities in pursuit of its own new identity as gay-friendly and moral.
Now, perhaps you think the institution of marriage should be devalued, that it is stuffy and conservative and in need of an overhaul. Fine. Then argue for that, openly and honestly. But no one benefits from the charade of gay marriage. The fact is that marriage is not simply about co-habitation or partnership; it is not even simply about having an intense relationship. It has historically been about much more – about creating a unit, with its own rules, that is recognised by the state and society as a distinctive union often entered into for the purpose of raising a new generation. Yes, some couples enter into it for other reasons – for companionship, larks, a party or whatever – but we are not talking about individuals’ motives here; we are talking about the meaning of an institution. Collapsing together every human relationship, so that everything from gay love to a Christian couple who want to have five kids is homogenised under the term ‘marriage’, benefits no one. It doesn’t benefit gay couples, whose ‘marriage’ will have little historic depth or meaning, and it doesn’t benefit currently married couples, some of whom may feel a corrosion of their identity….
A bi-partisan majority of the North Carolina Legislature has voted to put the North Carolina Marriage Protection Amendment on the ballot to preserve marriage in our state as the union of one man and one woman. North Carolinians will finally have the opportunity to vote on May 8, 2012, to preserve a traditional definition of marriage, just as 30 other states have already done.
North Carolina Marriage Protection Amendment Language: “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”
Fact: The State of North Carolina should protect marriage. Marriage as the union of a man and a woman is uniquely in the common good and serves as the basic building block of civilization and a productive society. Marriage benefits men and women, their children, our economy and the state as a whole. It is not merely a private contract, but a social institution of great public importance.
Fact: Marriage is vulnerable to being redefined by future legislative or judicial decisions. Judicial decisions in other states have redefined marriage to make it genderless, thus imposing same-sex marriage with no input from the people of those states. This has occurred in Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut and California. All told, same-sex “marriage” is allowed in six states and the District of Columbia. Any homosexual couple “married” in one of those state could move to North Carolina and sue to have their “marriage” recognized by the State of North Carolina.
Fact: The Marriage Protection Amendment ensures that North Carolinians control the definition of marriage in our state. By putting the traditional definition of marriage in our state constitution, as 30 other states have already done, we will ensure that voters will control the definition of marriage in our state. This will also prevent a homosexual couple from another state suing to force North Carolina to recognize their “marriage” under state law.
Fact: Defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is already the law in North Carolina. While the current marriage law in North Carolina permits only traditional marriage, it can be changed by a judicial or legislative act. The Marriage Protection Amendment simply puts into our state constitution the traditional definition of marriage, thereby prohibiting judges and legislators from attempting to give other relationships the legal status of marriage. Judges elsewhere have attempted to use the existence of “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships” as a legal means to redefine marriage. The Marriage Protection Amendment provides that those types of relationships will not be considered marriage-like relationships under the law.
Fact: The Marriage Protection Amendment does not take away any rights from same-sex couples. Marriage has always been defined in North Carolina as the union of one man and one woman. North Carolina law has never allowed civil unions or domestic partnerships as legally binding entities. The Amendment preserves those provisions, but does allow same-sex couples and others to enter into, and enforce, private legal agreements. For instance, a private company could agree to provide health benefits to same-sex couples, and the couple could enforce this agreement in court. Nothing in the Amendment prohibits local governments or the UNC System from offering or continuing to offer benefits to same-sex partners of employees or students if they choose to do so by changing the basis upon which benefits are offered.
Fact: Children do best when raised by their married mother and father. The overwhelming body of social science evidence shows that children, raised by their married mother and father, experience less poverty, commit far fewer suicides and far fewer crimes and are half as likely to become pregnant out of wedlock. They also develop better academically and socially and are healthier physically and emotionally when they become adults.
Fact: North Carolina is the only southern state that has not defined marriage in its state constitution. The Marriage Protection Amendment will allow voters in North Carolina to preserve and protect the traditional definition of marriage in our state. Please vote for the amendment on May 8, 2012 so we may join 30 other states in protecting traditional marriage.
I am not a conspiracy-theory enthusiast. I think it’s hard enough for one person to keep a secret, much less the dozens it would take to organize some of the most famous conspiracy-theory events out there.
So, yes, we did land men on the moon—more than once. (Can you imagine all of Houston keeping a secret?)
And, yes, the Twin Towers came down because they were plowed into by airplanes directed by Al-Qaeda terrorists, and yes…steel can melt.
(But I’m not touching the JFK assassination—even anti-conspiracy theorists know when to get out.)
So, I don’t go looking for conspiracies, especially in politics or government, but I am beginning to wonder if the U.S. government, especially the Executive Branch, is purposely targeting traditional Christians by making it difficult for churches to conduct their business, hold their meetings, travel unencumbered, and fulfill their mission of being Christ’s Body in the world. Here’s a list, just off the top of my head, of recent events:
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) – The US State Department has added an unlikely name to the list of countries that are considered money-laundering centers – the Vatican. The listing was published Wednesday in the 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, and lists 190 countries.
The list is divided into three categories, primary concern, concern, and monitored. The Vatican has been listed with 67 other countries which also includes Poland, Egypt, Ireland, Hungary, and Chile.
A State Department official did confess that the Vatican had recently established programs to prevent money laundering….
In plain English, there is no accusation of wrongdoing, nor even evidence of it. The State Department merely sees the Vatican as a possible risk because of the large volumes of money processed through its banking system.
Now this is somewhat understandable. The Vatican has had financial problems in the past, which is why they are instituting changes. They are also in the “countries of concern” category, the middle group, primarily it seems because of the amount of money they handle, not because of any specific wrongdoing.
But then this happens, and you have to ask “why now?” since the Vatican has already taken steps to address its problems:
* Closing by JP Morgan Chase of the Vatican’s account
JP Morgan Chase (JPM.N) is closing the Vatican bank’s account with an Italian branch of the U.S. banking giant because of concerns about a lack of transparency at the Holy See’s financial institution, Italian newspapers reported.
The move is a blow to the Vatican’s drive to have its bank included in Europe’s “white list” of states that comply with international standards against tax fraud and money-laundering.
The bank, formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), enacted major reforms last year in an attempt to get Europe’s seal of approval and put behind it scandals that have included accusations of money laundering and fraud….
Last year, the Vatican adapted internal laws to comply with international standards on financial crime.
The 108-acre sovereign state surrounded by Rome now complies with the rules of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
It also established an internal Financial Information Authority (FIA) along the lines of other countries and has committed to comply with international anti-money laundering standards and liaise with the group and law enforcement agencies….
JP Morgan’s actions are less understandable than those of the U.S. State Department. If the Vatican is in the midst of instituting reforms, why close their account? Investigations haven’t presented any new information and talk of money-laundering and tax fraud are still just allegations. Was there pressure, overt or implied, by the U.S. government?
* Concern about travel documents
The United Methodist Church has repeatedly on the international level upheld the traditional Christian understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman, despite ongoing attempts from various groups to allow for same-sex unions. Once again at their General Conference this April they will face this issue. In a write-up for First Things, Thomas C. Oden mentions in passing the ability of foreign delegates, especially those from Africa, to get the proper travel documents to attend the conference:
…The struggle for the soul of the United Methodist Church has reached a decisive point. At every quadrennial national meeting since 1976, the issue of the ordination of partners in same-sex unions has been raised and defeated. Until now my church has not gone the way of the Episcopalians, the United Church of Christ, the mainline Presbyterians, and the Evangelical Lutherans. At the General Conference this April, Methodists face another battle over this issue, and the legislative outcome is in doubt. The contest will hinge on how many of the African delegates will get visas and on whether we can meld together the voices of evangelicals, moderates, overseas delegates, and centrist liberals who care about the future of the United Methodist Church and who wish to avoid a decade of devastating court challenges….
The presence of Christians from Africa and Asia is essential for the UMC to continue to uphold the biblical mandate on marriage. I wonder how many will get visas—I guess we’ll have to wait until April to see.
A paperwork hold-up did affect some long-scheduled Nigerian clergy unable to get visas to come to the U.S. for a religious conference earlier this year. Apparently, the State Department pointed to the security issues involved with Nigeria, which is a valid concern, but given the lead-time for the paperwork, questions remain.
* Abridgement of First Amendments rights
And of course, the biggest area indicating that the administration is targeting traditional/conservative Christians is the mandate by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for all employers, religious or not, to pay for (either directly or indirectly) contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients. Or, as Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York said in response to the 2013 deadline for compliance: “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”
If religious freedom falls and the Catholic Church as well as other religious institutions pulls back from operating for all instead of just their own faithful, the government will have succeeded in keeping them from following Christ’s Great Commission, of imposing the State between people gathering together to help each other, and of gravely weakening all of our “inalienable” rights.
But I reassure myself that this can’t possibly be a conspiracy with the adage:
Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.
And that goes double when dealing with government bureaucrats.
Michael Dubin and Mark Levine launched the money-saving mail-order service in April 2011, shipping quality razors for a mere $3. Smart enough, but it was the promotional video that put them on the map. Originally created as a pitch to investors, the hilarious skit—among its declarations: “Your handsome-ass grandfather only had one blade…and polio!”—also won over everyone with an Internet connection this week.
Last week, President Barack Obama took the unusual step of commenting on a state ballot initiative. His stated opposition to the referendum on the marriage amendment in North Carolina is a grave disappointment, as it is reported to be the first time that the President has entered into this issue on the state level, further escalating the increasing confusion on the part of some in our society to the very nature of marriage itself.
As Catholics, we are FOR marriage, as we believe it is a vocation in which God calls couples to faithfully and permanently embrace a fruitful union in a mutual self-giving bond of love, according to His purposes. It is not only the union itself that is essential to these purposes, but also the life to which spouses are called to be open, the gift of children. Children have the right to the indispensable place of fatherhood and motherhood in their lives as they grow, are loved, nurtured and formed by those whose unique vocation it is to be a father and a mother through the bond of one man and one woman in marriage. As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has stated, children have the fundamental right to grow up with the understanding of the proper place of sexuality in human relationships. He recently emphasized that “Children are the greatest treasure and the future of every society: truly caring for them means recognizing our responsibility to teach, defend and live the moral virtues which are the key to human fulfillment.”
In his comments on the upcoming referendum in our State, the President regrettably characterized the marriage amendment as a matter of discrimination. While we are respectful of the Office of the President, we strongly disagree with this assessment. As Cardinal Timothy Dolan, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, recently stated, “The Catholic Church recognizes the immeasurable personal dignity and equal worth of all individuals, including those with same-sex attraction, and we reject all hatred and unjust treatment against any person. Our profound regard for marriage, as the complementary and fruitful union of a man and a woman does not negate our concern for the well-being of all people, but reinforces it. While all persons merit our full respect, no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides.”
Join us in our support FOR the sacred vocation of marriage and what it means for us and for the future of our great State. We urge you to visit our Catholic Voice NC website for more information and to vote FOR the referendum on May 8th.
Sincerely in Christ,
The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge Bishop of Raleigh
The Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis Bishop of Charlotte
One of the things we’re intentionally setting out to do now that we’ve broadened Stand Firm’s scope of coverage is to shine a spotlight on those troubled areas where revisionist activists are beginning to eat away at the Body of Christ.
Theological liberalism is parasitic. It survives and thrives by attaching itself to a healthy orthodox Christian denomination or communion and subverting its weakest members—namely, those who are insufficiently grounded in scripture, those nursing past hurts and resentments, those who want desperately to be seen as “smart”, and those looking to make a name for themselves by playing the maverick.
The pattern usually plays out as follows:
1. A small group of revisionist activists embrace an unbiblical but culturally popular idea.
2. Orthodox leaders respond by reasserting the Faith.
3. Those styling themselves “moderate” (who often don’t quite grasp the theological issues at stake) emphasize the need for unity and patience.Three of the most common moderate templates are: an appeal to the “Gamaliel model” from Acts 5; an attempt to re-cast the conflict as adiaphora—a dispute over “non-essential” issues; and/or an argument from Jesus’ command not to “judge”.
4. The theological liberals congratulate and fawn over “moderates” for their “open-mindedness”, feeding the moderates’ need to be liked/admired.
5. At some point the secular media (perhaps alerted by the revisionist activists) is attracted to the conflict and various outlets report on the “growing controversy”. The media portrays orthodox leaders as stodgy reactionaries. Theological liberals are showcased as cutting edge enlightened thinkers, courageously challenging the powers-that-be on behalf of the downtrodden. “Moderates” who hold traditional views but counsel “dialog” are featured as the “voices of reason” in the troubled denomination.
6. What had been a tiny group of relatively harmless revisionists now begins to gain steam as members of the denomination uninformed and unprepared for the controversy are exposed to revisionist arguments for the first time via the media alongside gentle calls for moderation, patience and open-mindedness….
Read it all. It’s important to know how events/ideas are played out, not only within our churches, but within the wider culture.
The Church of Uganda has been made aware of the Kony 2012 campaign initiated by the US-based organization, Invisible Children.
Joseph Kony and the LRA left Uganda in 2006 at the beginning of the Juba peace talks and haven’t been in Uganda for more than five years. Since then, the people of Northern Uganda have been returning to their homes and have begun the long and difficult process of healing and rebuilding their lives, their families, and their communities. The Church of Uganda has been deeply involved in that process at every level. While there are the normal challenges of any country, Uganda is a country at peace, working hard on development, and takes pride in its description as the “Pearl of Africa.”
Under the leadership of the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, the Church of Uganda made advocacy for the end of the war in Northern Uganda a primary concern. The Archbishop and Bishops of the Church of Uganda led a delegation of 70 people to Gulu and the Pabbo IDP camp in February 2004, immediately after his enthronement as Archbishop, as an act of solidarity with them and to offer encouragement. The Archbishop spoke out repeatedly on the need for peaceful resolution to the conflict, and met on several occasions with the President to advocate for peace and an end to the war. Through the Uganda Joint Christian Council, the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, and our Dioceses operating in the affected areas, the Church of Uganda has worked with many other community leaders to restore peace in Northern Uganda and engage in the process of healing and rebuilding the North from the lingering effects of Joseph Kony.
Although the Juba Peace Talks did not produce a peace agreement, life without the threat of LRA attacks returned to Northern Uganda in 2006. The Church of Uganda, however, seriously regrets the failure of the peace talks that has resulted in Joseph Kony and the LRA continuing their brutal attacks on the people of Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. It grieves us deeply to know that others are still experiencing the brutality we lived through for twenty years.
The Church of Uganda has consistently advocated for peaceful means of conflict resolution. Archbishop Henry Orombi wrote in a January 2006 editorial to Christianity Today, “When you read reports of a certain number of LRA rebels killed by the Ugandan army, remember that these rebels are our abducted and brainwashed children. When reading about LRA “rebels,” always substitute the word “children” for rebels. The military solution has failed for 20 years; only genuine dialogue and negotiation has come closest to ending the war.”
Invisible Children have been a good partner with the Church of Uganda, and we thank them for standing with us when we were working to keep the need for a peaceful resolution to the war before the government. We also thank them for standing with us in the long and still ongoing process of rebuilding families and communities in Northern Uganda. They have helped us rebuild schools, send children to school, and build capacity among our teachers through training and exchange trips. It is unfortunate, however, that there was not a wider consultation with the local community on how to portray the current challenges facing the people of Northern Uganda and to accurately let them speak in their own voice.
The successful use of social marketing to get out a message is commendable and we urge Invisible Children to empower Ugandans with these tools and skills to enable their voices to be heard and appreciated….
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has decided to crowd-source their efforts to find life on other planets. Using the Allen Telescope Array (ATA), users can see a live feed of the most life-friendly star systems, and can report what they see in real time. The move is based on SETI’s decision that the human eye is more reliable than their computer algorithms.
…But for the right, this is an issue of the Obama administration’s telling church-based groups that they must act against their deeply held beliefs. As House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy told me, the argument did not start with Congress. It was a response to Obama. “It wasn’t about birth control. It’s about religious freedom.”
The tables have turned. Abortion used to be a matter of choice. Ditto birth control. But now that they have considerable political power, the erstwhile choice advocates want to take away the choice of dissenters to opt out.
Choice is gone. Tolerance is musty memory. “Access” is the new buzzword — and access means free. Under Obamacare, employer-paid health plans can charge women copayments for necessary and vital medical services if they are seriously ill, but birth control is free….
What is more, Fluke asserted that if students have to go out and get their own birth control — because they chose to attend a Catholic institution — that hurts their grades. Therefore, Washington must force religious institutions to go against their deeply held beliefs and hand out birth control, if indirectly.
Washington has accomplished a great leap, from a plea for choice to a roar of entitlement.
No doubt, this approach works well with intolerant liberals who want to impose their views on others. But it is enough to cause some of us social moderates, who worry about the encroachment on religious and personal liberty, to go into the loving arms of social conservatives.
PlanetSolar’s striking solar-powered boat just completed an 18-month journey around the world. After departing in September 2010, the 101-foot-long boat stuck close to the sun-drenched equator to fuel its 703 lithium-ion powered panels.
Two responses have appeared; one by Julian Savulescu, editor, Journal of Medical Ethics, and in the comments, one by Kenneth M. Boyd, Rev Emeritus Professor of Medical Ethics and the editor responsible for deciding that the paper should be published.
This article has elicited personally abusive correspondence to the authors, threatening their lives and personal safety. The Journal has received a string abusive emails for its decision to publish this article. This abuse is typically anonymous.
I am not sure about the legality of publishing abusive threatening anonymous correspondence, so I won’t repeat it here. But fortunately there is plenty on the web to choose from. Here are some responses:
“These people are evil. Pure evil. That they feel safe in putting their twisted thoughts into words reveals how far we have fallen as a society.”
“Right now I think these two devils in human skin need to be delivered for immediate execution under their code of ‘after birth abortions’ they want to commit murder – that is all it is! MURDER!!!”
“I don‘t believe I’ve ever heard anything as vile as what these “people” are advocating. Truly, truly scary.”
“The fact that the Journal of Medical Ethics published this outrageous and immoral piece of work is even scarier”
What a thin skin to consider those comments “disturbing” in any way.
As Editor of the Journal, I would like to defend its publication. The arguments presented, in fact, are largely not new and have been presented repeatedly in the academic literature and public fora by the most eminent philosophers and bioethicists in the world, including Peter Singer, Michael Tooley and John Harris in defence of infanticide, which the authors call after-birth abortion.
The novel contribution of this paper is not an argument in favour of infanticide – the paper repeats the arguments made famous by Tooley and Singer – but rather their application in consideration of maternal and family interests. The paper also draws attention to the fact that infanticide is practised in the Netherlands.
Many people will and have disagreed with these arguments. However, the goal of the Journal of Medical Ethics is not to present the Truth or promote some one moral view. It is to present well reasoned argument based on widely accepted premises. The authors provocatively argue that there is no moral difference between a fetus and a newborn. Their capacities are relevantly similar. If abortion is permissible, infanticide should be permissible. The authors proceed logically from premises which many people accept to a conclusion that many of those people would reject.
And this is a very good point, and one that advocates for “choice” had better take a hard look at, because he’s absolutely correct. The logical decision to allow termination of a baby in utero for any reason at any time (which is legal in the U.S.) leads to questioning the arbitrary line of location: inside or outside the womb.
Of course, many people will argue that on this basis abortion should be recriminalised. Those arguments can be well made and the Journal would publish a paper than made such a case coherently, originally and with application to issues of public or medical concern. The Journal does not specifically support substantive moral views, ideologies, theories, dogmas or moral outlooks, over others. It supports sound rational argument. Moreover, it supports freedom of ethical expression. The Journal welcomes reasoned coherent responses to After-Birth Abortion. Or indeed on any topic relevant to medical ethics.
What is disturbing is not the arguments in this paper nor its publication in an ethics journal. It is the hostile, abusive, threatening responses that it has elicited. More than ever, proper academic discussion and freedom are under threat from fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.
“Liberals are disgusting. They have criminal minds. To think that a person must be considered “worthy” to live is criminal.”
“It seems to me if good people are not going to stand up to do away with people who believe in doing away with live babies, then it means no one is good, and it’s just easier for God to drop a couple asteroids on earth.”
“i can’t even comment on this atrocity. I know these people are murderers in their hearts. And God will treat them as such. They are completely spiritually dead.”
“I have to say that I would personally kill anyone doing a after-birth abortion if I had the chance. Is that clear enough?”
The comments include openly racist remarks:
Racism: bad, bad, bad; infanticide: not so much
“Alberto Giubilini looks like a muslim so I have to agree with him that all muslims should have been aborted. If abortion fails, no life at birth – just like he wants.
“Journal of Medical Ethics” — hahaha! You libs and your quack science. Ya think that’s impressive, Albutt & Franpoop? No ****! I can beat you in my sleep. Here goes:
I take a ‘subject of a moral right to life’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to my own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to me.
Here’s the “projected moral status” you comunisti italiani pigs would get: Bang, bang. Drop in toxic waste dump reserved for left-wing contaminants.”
What the response to this article reveals, through the microscope of the web, is the deep disorder of the modern world. Not that people would give arguments in favour of infanticide, but the deep opposition that exists now to liberal values and fanatical opposition to any kind of reasoned engagement.
Infanticide is now a liberal value? Who knew.
And now, Kenneth M. Boyd:
Coming up to me at a meeting the other day, an ethics colleague waved a paper at me. “Have you seen this ?”she asked, “It’s unbelievable!” The paper was ‘After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?” by two philosophers writing from Australia, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.
Well yes, I agreed, I had seen it: in fact I had been the editor responsible for deciding that it should be published in the Journal of Medical Ethics; and no, I didn’t think it was unbelievable, since I know that arguing strongly for a position with which many people will disagree and some even find offensive, is something that philosophers are often willing, and may even feel they have a duty, to do, in order that their arguments may be tested in the crucible of debate with other philosophers who are equally willing to argue strongly against them.
Nothing to see here, folks, it was all just an academic exercise. Don’t worry that bioethics professors actually work on hospital committees that debate on what care, how much care, and whether any care should be provided for patients.
Of course for that debate to take place in the Journal of Medical Ethics, many of whose readers, doctors and health care workers as well as philosophers, may well disagree, perhaps strongly, with the paper’s arguments, we needed first to make sure that the paper, like any other submitted to the Journal, was of sufficient academic quality for us to publish; and the normal way in which we determine this is to invite academics in relevant disciplines to review the paper critically for us, so that we can eventually make an informed decision about whether or not to publish it, either in its original or (as in this case) a form revised in the light of the reviewers’ reports.
So it appears that this paper passed muster with a number of academics. And none thought to disagree with the authors’ personal (not scientific, not medical) opinion of what a “person” is?
From the paper: We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.
Well, that might be their definition, but it’s not my definition or the definition of most people, academics or not. According to this definition, someone unconscious (no matter how short or long) or even someone sleeping does not fit their definition of “person,” much less a baby or an elderly person with dementia, all non-persons according to these academic heavyweights.
Satisfied by the reviewers’ reports and my further editorial review that the paper was of sufficient academic quality to be published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, and being charged with making the decision as an Editor with no conflict of interest[ed. comment: of course not, you’re already born and weren’t terminated as a baby] in the matter, since unlike my fellow-editors in the relatively small world of international academic medical ethics I have never met the authors, and indeed personally do not agree with the conclusions of their paper, I decided that it was appropriate to publish it in the interest of academic freedom of debate.
It has subsequently been suggested to me that people whose lives might have been ended by ‘after-birth abortion’ were this legal, might be deeply offended by this paper. If that is the case I am sorry, but I am also confident that many of these people are equally capable of mounting a robust academic reply to the paper which, again subject to peer-review, the Journal of Medical Ethics will be very willing to consider for publication.
According to this paper, everyone might have had their lives “ended by ‘after-birth abortion’” since the authors hold that killing infants is justified for any reason. So I guess we’re all offended.