Talkin’ Turkey with Janet

A woman’s place is in Homeland Security.

I’ve been a guy for my whole life. I have nine sons and four grandsons. I think I speak for guys everywhere when I say that there’s nothing quite as entertaining as things that go boom. Pretty sure that’s why the Founding Fathers came up with the Second Amendment. Getting to dispatch tyrants was just icing on the entertainment cake.

So it was with some interest that I note that Janet Napolitano latest public service directive. You probably know Janet as the Director or Czar or something of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Maybe you’ve heard her referred to – both affectionately and derisively – as “Big Sis”, an oblique reference to her Orwellian omnipresence in our daily lives. Still others think of her as the greatest female impersonator since Eleanor Roosevelt – if you don’t count Janet Reno.

In any event, Janet has weighed in with some suggestions – I think she actually intended it as a warning – on the impact on National Security that arises when guys with WASPish surnames and backward ball caps everywhere are dropping turkeys into fryers designed for that purpose. The DHS warning also includes a video that shows what can happen if you impose your morality on a not quite thawed bird. Cool.

While this opens up alternatives to mixing dry ice and water and acetylene in garbage bags, I guess this means that you will no longer get that device, formerly used to fry turkeys, past those ever-vigilant TSA watchmen at airport security. Unless you can hide it under a turban, of course.

Janet has proven once again that any semblance of jurisdictional limits are erased. Homeland Security – Homeland Security! – is telling us how to cook Thanksgiving dinner. She’s also proven that we’ve become a nation of emasculated imbeciles that cast our eyes upon Capitol Hill from whence cometh our help. Sheesh!

And, finally, by offering this sage – and parsley, rosemary, and thyme – cooking advice Janet shows us that that no matter how much she tries to repress it; no matter how latent the inclination, a woman’s place is in the home.

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Fulton Sheen. Now more than ever.

Winner really does take it all.

It may very well be that the Communists, who are so anti-Christ, are closer to Him than those who see Him as a sentimentalist and vague moral reformer. The Communists have at least decided that if He wins, they lose; the others are afraid to consider Him either as winning or losing, because they are not prepared to meet the moral demands which this victory would make on their souls.

If He is what He claimed to be, a Savior, a Redeemer, then we have a virile Christ and a leader worth following in these terrible times; One Who will step into the breach of death, crushing sin, gloom and despair; a leader to Whom we can make totalitarian sacrifice without losing, but gaining freedom, and Whom we can love even unto death. We need a Christ today Who will make cords and drive the buyers and sellers from our new temples; Who will blast the the unfruitful fig-trees; Who will talk of crosses and sacrifices and Whose voice will be like the voice of the raging sea. But He will not allow us to pick and choose among His words, discarding the hard ones, and accepting the ones that please our fancy. We need a Christ Who will restore moral indignation, Who will make us hate evil with a passionate intensity, and love goodness to a point where we can drink death like water.

-Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
“Life of Christ”, AD 1958

H/T Ann Barnhardt

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Atheism Explained.

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Is Gosnell’s goose cooked?

Only if Pennsylvania still has the electric chair.

The Buffalo News reports:

A woman initially hired to clean instruments at a Philadelphia abortion clinic has pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree murder in the deaths of a newborn baby and a woman who died after an anesthesia overdose.  As part of her plea agreement with prosecutors, Lynda Williams also agreed on Wednesday to testify against the operator of the clinic, Dr. Kermit Gosnell.

Gosnell is charged with first degree murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.  Maybe they could afford him the same treatment he did for hundreds of babies who, after “seeing them breathe, move or show other signs of life” had an unlicensed doctor snip their spinal cords.

H/T to M. Bray

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Get stoned this Sunday.

No surprise.  No surprise at all.

Yet another vestige of Christianity was swept away.  Probably a small thing compared to all the other degradations amongst us.  With an enlightened air of relief the Atlanta paper reported:

Georgia’s age-old, all-out ban on buying beer, wine and liquor at shops on Sunday has met its end. Early poll results had voters in most of the 51 metro Atlanta jurisdictions giving a resounding yes Tuesday to seven days of package sales in referendums, continuing the slow dissolution of a blue law dating to the late 1800s, one of the last restraints on Sunday consumption.

We have a culture that embraces killing unborn children, and calls it choice;  promotes sodomitic couplings, and calls it marriage; and, venerates Mohammed (may pig excrement be upon him), and calls it tolerance.  So it’s no surprise that there is no hesitation to make the disregard of another of God’s Laws official, and call it liberty.

But then again, all that’s from the Old Testament – or, as they call it in modern American churches – the two-thirds of Holy Scripture where God was just kidding.  Considering  some of those hilarious vignettes from the Divine Comedy, it kinda makes you wonder what the Creator of the Universe has to do to be taken seriously around here:

And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it had not been declared what should be done to him.  And Jehovah said unto Moses, The man shall surely be put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him to death with stones; as Jehovah commanded Moses.                                                                                              Numbers 15: 32-36

More recently – and in response to the loss of reverence for the Lord’s Day, Blessed John Paul II wrote Dies Domini, teaching, in part (and it’s killing me to quote so little of this rich Encyclical):

The Lord’s Day — as Sunday was called from Apostolic times — has always been accorded special attention in the history of the Church because of its close connection with the very core of the Christian mystery. In fact, in the weekly reckoning of time Sunday recalls the day of Christ’s Resurrection. It is Easter which returns week by week, celebrating Christ’s victory over sin and death, the fulfilment in him of the first creation and the dawn of “the new creation” (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). It is the day which recalls in grateful adoration the world’s first day and looks forward in active hope to “the last day”, when Christ will come in glory (cf. Acts 1:11; 1 Th 4:13-17) and all things will be made new (cf. Rev 21:5).

The Resurrection of Jesus is the fundamental event upon which Christian faith rests (cf. 1 Cor 15:14). It is an astonishing reality, fully grasped in the light of faith, yet historically attested to by those who were privileged to see the Risen Lord. It is a wondrous event which is not only absolutely unique in human history, but which lies at the very heart of the mystery of time. In fact, “all time belongs to [Christ] and all the ages”, as the evocative liturgy of the Easter Vigil recalls in preparing the Paschal Candle. Therefore, in commemorating the day of Christ’s Resurrection not just once a year but every Sunday, the Church seeks to indicate to every generation the true fulcrum of history, to which the mystery of the world’s origin and its final destiny leads.

It is right, therefore, to claim, in the words of a fourth century homily, that “the Lord’s Day” is “the lord of days”.(2) Those who have received the grace of faith in the Risen Lord cannot fail to grasp the significance of this day of the week with the same deep emotion which led Saint Jerome to say: “Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, it is the day of Christians, it is our day”. For Christians, Sunday is “the fundamental feast day”, established not only to mark the succession of time but to reveal time’s deeper meaning.

The fundamental importance of Sunday has been recognized through two thousand years of history and was emphatically restated by the Second Vatican Council: “Every seven days, the Church celebrates the Easter mystery. This is a tradition going back to the Apostles, taking its origin from the actual day of Christ’s Resurrection — a day thus appropriately designated ‘the Lord’s Day’.” Paul VI emphasized this importance once more when he approved the new General Roman Calendar and the Universal Norms which regulate the ordering of the Liturgical Year.  The coming of the Third Millennium, which calls believers to reflect upon the course of history in the light of Christ, also invites them to rediscover with new intensity the meaning of Sunday: its “mystery”, its celebration, its significance for Christian and human life.

I note with pleasure that in the years since the Council this important theme has prompted not only many interventions by you, dear Brother Bishops, as teachers of the faith, but also different pastoral strategies which — with the support of your clergy — you have developed either individually or jointly. On the threshold of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, it has been my wish to offer you this Apostolic Letter in order to support your pastoral efforts in this vital area. But at the same time I wish to turn to all of you, Christ’s faithful, as though I were spiritually present in all the communities in which you gather with your Pastors each Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist and “the Lord’s Day”. Many of the insights and intuitions which prompt this Apostolic Letter have grown from my episcopal service in Krakow and, since the time when I assumed the ministry of Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter, in the visits to the Roman parishes which I have made regularly on the Sundays of the different seasons of the Liturgical Year. I see this Letter as continuing the lively exchange which I am always happy to have with the faithful, as I reflect with you on the meaning of Sunday and underline the reasons for living Sunday as truly “the Lord’s Day”, also in the changing circumstances of our own times.

Until quite recently, it was easier in traditionally Christian countries to keep Sunday holy because it was an almost universal practice and because, even in the organization of civil society, Sunday rest was considered a fixed part of the work schedule. Today, however, even in those countries which give legal sanction to the festive character of Sunday, changes in socioeconomic conditions have often led to profound modifications of social behaviour and hence of the character of Sunday. The custom of the “weekend” has become more widespread, a weekly period of respite, spent perhaps far from home and often involving participation in cultural, political or sporting activities which are usually held on free days. This social and cultural phenomenon is by no means without its positive aspects if, while respecting true values, it can contribute to people’s development and to the advancement of the life of society as a whole. All of this responds not only to the need for rest, but also to the need for celebration which is inherent in our humanity. Unfortunately, when Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes merely part of a “weekend”, it can happen that people stay locked within a horizon so limited that they can no longer see “the heavens”.  Hence, though ready to celebrate, they are really incapable of doing so.  (emphasis added).

So the majority are “celebrating” their victory this day.  And in doing so, we slip that much further lose sight of time’s deeper meaning.  Further devolving Sunday into really just an extension of Saturday, which we all know is the crown jewel of Friday, is nothing more than an empty promise.

Though they may be ready to celebrate, they are really incapable of doing so.

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It’s because he really cares about women.

Next time someone says that to me, I think I’ll barf in their lap.

In a legal case that has received no mainstream media attention, a Florida abortion practitioner has been ordered by a court to pay the survivor of a failed abortion $36 million in damages for injuries she suffered from the abortion.

Visage worthy of a Wanted Poster?

James Pendergraft is the owner of five abortion facilities in Florida and a late-term clinic in D.C. “specializing” in abortions past the 24th week of pregnancy. He has had his medical license suspended four times for botched abortions, illegal late-term abortions, and dispensing drugs without a license. He has also faced legal and disciplinary actions for making up false threats from pro-life advocates and “reporting” them to authorities.

This week Pendergraft found himself in an Orange County courthouse facing a lawsuit from the daughter of Carol Howard, who wants a lifetime of medical care after she was born alive after a botched abortion began. The plaintiff is a 10-year-old girl with massive birth defects who survived the abortion. The plaintiff’s mother, Carol Howard, paid $1300 to have an abortion in November 2001 when she was 22 weeks pregnant.

The plan was for the daughter, identified as JH in court documents according to a pro-life advocate familiar with the case, to be delivered stillborn into a toilet. After 12 hours of labor, the mother left the abortion clinic very upset and went to a nearby hospital because the process was taking too long. There, she gave birth to a girl weighing 1 lb 6 oz, who is now 10-years-old. She has cerebral palsy, no function on the left side of her body, strokes and brain damage, physical, emotional and cognitive delays, lung damage, chronic lung disease and seizure disorders.

Pendergraft was found liable for damages and, according to pro-life advocate Kelly Clinger, who had multiple abortions done by Pendergraft years ago, Pendergraft was ordered to pay Howard $18,255,000 in punitive damages, $18,000,000 in compensatory damages and over $400,000 in court costs.

Read the entire Lifenews article.  H/T to C. Ramey

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Swimming the Tiber, Part II

What’s a nice Jewish boy like you doing in the Roman Catholic Church?

(I have been asked more times than I can remember about my journey from Evangelical Christian to the Roman Catholic Church.  Although I’ve often doubted whether anyone else would have the least interest, I will present that journey – well, parts of it anyway – here.  This is not an apologetic.  It’s a narrative.  To say that it was a struggle for me would be an understatement.  So would it be to say that I still struggle.  If there is any encouragement, any help, any edification to be found here, I hope you find it.  I am, after all, only a beggar telling other beggars where to find Bread.  This is Part II of that narrative.  Part I can be found here.)

From juice and bread to Real Presence.

I was aware of the Catholic Church’s long standing defense of life. But I also learned that there were other things that the Church was right on too; guided, of course, by my own infallible lights. I then made a fatal mistake: I started reading Church history. In the words of Newman, “to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.”

But I remain grateful for the family from whence I come. To have two parents who both love God and love each other is something more precious to me than words can adequately describe.

We have the distinct privilege and blessing to have a wealth of information and history at our fingertips. We are indeed surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. For the last two decades, I have been a reluctant traveler on a path looking at some of that history. When I try a case, I often say, let’s seek out the truth and see where it takes us.

So that is what I’ve endeavored to do. I think of that great line from Chariots of Fire when Eric Little was asked if he had any regrets. His answer was, “Yes, but no doubt.” And so it has been for me.

The short of it is that after twenty years of internal – and sometimes external – wrangling, my wife and seven of our thirteen children became Catholics.  After years of reading, praying, and seeking, I could protest no longer. The family created by marriage is an organic unity. Husband and wife share the mutual pledge of their lives, live together under one roof, raise the same children, and share the same food. I certainly could not bear the thought of living separated from any of my family. I could no longer live apart from most of my Christian family.

There were interim stops along the way. There was a long stay in conservative Presbyterianism where I enjoyed some of the intellectual rigor; Reformed Episcopal, with its liturgy and appreciation for the Sacraments; and, then Orthodoxy with its valid Sacraments, deep liturgy, and mystery.

I deeply appreciate the beauty and consistency of the Eastern Rite in the Catholic Church. As the Catechism notes, the Eastern Church more consistently reflects the unity of Baptism and the Eucharist. Except for the sage advice of a priest friend, I was inclined to go there. Sadly, there is, it seems, an impenetrable cultural divide that keeps outsiders, well, outside. Perhaps it is this mentality that has spared much of the Eastern Church from the scandals and innovations that are all too familiar to us in the last half century.

My decision to enter into communion with the Catholic Church is the culmination of a journey begun in earnest when I was working full time in the pro-life movement. In this journey, I feel a fulfillment of my years of desiring a truly comprehensive and consistent Christianity. Along the way I was particularly drawn by two unavoidable truths.

First: jurisdiction. While I think I’ve always appreciated that reality, being in law school catapulted me in my journey. In the law, jurisdiction is everything. And underscoring the importance of jurisdiction in law school highlighted the futility – and ultimate disintegration – of protestantism. There is no real mechanism for resolving disputes or determining what God has to say about anything. Every debate eventually ends with, “Well, I just don’t see it that way, brother.” And if that doesn’t work, I’ll just go start my own church. Indeed, protestantism has within itself the seeds of its own destruction.

Second: the Eucharist.  One of the chief criticisms I’ve heard my entire life is that “Catholics don’t believe the Bible.” Yet it is precisely at that place where the Church adheres most closely to Sacred Scripture that there is the sharpest divide: This is my body. I am no grammar scholar.  Thankfully, you don’t have to be to diagram that sentence.  If the Church is wrong about everything else but right about the Eucharist, I wanted in.

I have not and will not repudiate my upbringing. It is precisely my upbringing – this relentless pursuit of Truth – that has led me to where I am today. I have come to see that the Catholic Church provides the coherent foundation for an unyielding commitment to the sanctity of every human life, of marriage, the family, and respect for all the seasons of life.

And it’s not just about being right, but about being made right . . . with God.  I am a sinner.  I have offended a holy God, who is all good and deserving of all my love.  I have caused injury to others.  I need salve for the wounds, mercy for the wrongs, and food for the journey.  These I found in the Catholic Church.

In becoming a Catholic, I leave nothing behind and forsake nothing but division. I am born-again to new and living hope.  I am Bible believing.  I am filled with the Holy Spirit.

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Swimming the Tiber, Part I

What’s a nice Jewish boy like you doing in the Roman Catholic Church?

(I have been asked more times than I can remember about my journey from Evangelical Christian to the Roman Catholic Church.  Although I’ve often doubted whether anyone else would have the least interest, I will present that journey – well, parts of it anyway – here.  This is not an apologetic.  It’s a narrative.  To say that it was a struggle for me would be an understatement.  So would it be to say that I still struggle.  If there is any encouragement, any help, any edification to be found here, I hope you find it.  I am, after all, only a beggar telling other beggars where to find Bread.)

I am a Catholic.

There, I said it. It comes more easily now. But it has taken two decades to get here. Not only did I struggle with many theological and practical issues, my wife and I have 13 very well trained Protestants. So our family vessel moved more like an aircraft carrier, less like a speedboat.

From gefilte fish to bacon.

Both my wife and I grew up in evangelical homes. My wife’s father was a minister for decades. We loved the Bible as the very Word of God. We memorized it voraciously. We had “sword drills,” competing to be the first one to find a particular verse. I was the champion several years running.

Driven by love of God and man, we were concerned for the eternal destiny of everyone everywhere. We called it witnessing, sharing the Gospel, and evangelism.

My Dad – God rest his soul – would witness at every opportunity, whether to the guy at the next table in a restaurant or the clerk at the motel desk. Even the fact that the dentist had both his hands in my Dad’s mouth didn’t deter him from sharing the Good News. If you were going to hell, it sure wasn’t going to be my Father’s fault.

My dear Mother still does it. In rehab following a severe stroke, she’d share the Gospel with every therapist, roommate, orderly, and nurse that crossed her path. Despite the pain, humiliation, and Herculean efforts of recovery, she never complained. At times she was almost giddy with the opportunities she had to share her deep faith. She is probably the only person in history to have fun in therapy.

We were in church just about every time the doors were open. Sunday morning for worship and Sunday School; Sunday night for another service or two. There was Wednesday night for prayer meeting following a covered dish supper.

If you were really plugged in, you went to Tuesday night “visitation” to invite neighbors to come join you in church on Sunday. A fleet of school buses got you there if needed. We had more days of obligation than Catholics ever thought about. But it was not as much about “obligation” as it was about obedience – and its greatest motivator – love.

We loved God and we loved each other. Church was the center of where we worshipped. And it was the center of our lives. It was the gathering place for friends. We called it fellowship.

Both my parents grew up in non-observant Jewish homes. They were married in a Jewish ceremony, but were otherwise non-observant as well. According to my grandparents, you could be nothing or you could be Jewish. Each had approximately equal validity. Six years of marriage and a few children later, my parents underwent a divine transformation and became Christians.

My Mother’s parents weren’t thrilled with this conversion, but they tolerated it. It was not, however, a topic of conversation for polite company as far as they were concerned. We five children, of which I was the eldest, loved them and enjoyed their involvement in our lives. We were saddened by their passing, especially since they departed this world in darkness.

Dad’s parents were a different story. With my parents’ conversion, my grandparents were righteously indignant with a sense of religious fervor. My grandparents did what they could to humiliate their son. In Jewish history, many families will tear their clothes and even conduct a funeral, treating the new Christian relative as though dead.

That would have been a marked improvement. We only saw them a handful of times growing up, and they used every one of those opportunities to be berate my Father.

Dad was no shrinking violet. His six and a half foot, two hundred sixty pound frame cast quite a shadow. He was an accomplished snow skier and a champion equestrian. He was naturally gregarious and never met a stranger. But he never complained about or criticized his parents. He did pray for them and for their conversion. Only after I entered adulthood could I comprehend the depth and breadth of their ire. How it must have grieved my Father’s heart.

When my Father lay dying in his hospital bed, I sat by his side. During the last few days of his life, he was unconscious. By his bedside, I read to him, spoke to him, and asked him questions. He never responded but I kept on anyway. One question was, “Dad, now that you are at the end of your life, what is most important to you?” He instantly awoke, pushed his oxygen mask aside, lifted his head slightly off the pillow, looked straight at me with his eyes wide open and proclaimed: “The Lord and your Mother.” He immediately closed his eyes. Two days later he slipped from this life into the presence of the God he loved. He never said another word.

He ended his life as he spent it: expressing his love for God and for his wife. He even got them in the right order.

During Dad’s final illness my Mother graciously tended to him virtually single-handedly. He was bed-ridden for the last year of his life. Mom took care of him with great joy and affection. She personified the term “labor of love,” accepting this role as if assigned to her from God himself.

So if I have anything of merit to say, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants. They taught me how to think, taught me to be relentless in my pursuit of the Truth, taught me how to raise a family, and taught me how to live. Finally, by walking the last leg of their journey together – his suffering and her service – they taught me how to die.

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A few good men.

And the Marines apparently found them.  Shoplifters should be more careful.

H/T to G.Polk

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So long Privacy. We hardly knew ye.

Google has been publishing statistics on how many requests it receives from the various world governments for a couple of years now. These requests fall into two categories. In the first case they asked Google to divulge user information, such as their personal contact information, or what they did using Google’s services. In the second case, they asked Google to remove pieces of content from their services. Google is the only major company to publish data about the requests they get, and they do so every six months. The last report, published last week, reveals that in the first six months of 2011, these requests went up 29%.

The information shows things like 757 items being requested to be removed by the US Government, 646 by South Korea, 121 by China, and so on. Then, Google says how many of these requests it complied with. In some cases, like for the US, they specify how many were for copyright issues, defamation, and so on. They also divide the requests by service, such as YouTube, Blogger, AdWords, and so on. When it comes to obtaining user data, the numbers are even more impressive. The various United States government entities asked for information on 11,057 users or accounts. Google complied with 93% of those. The second highest number is India, with 2,439 requests. In that case, the company complied with 70%.

Not everything is shown by the Google transparency report. For example, in many cases data is omitted when the company isn’t allowed to talk about it. Also, when the number of requests was low, they may have been omitted entirely. The overall stats show which countries are more likely to censor versus those who aren’t. They also show which services are most likely to cause issues with governments. Private parties however are not part of this report, so when a company such as a music label asks to remove content from YouTube, that isn’t included.

The very fact that Google publishes these stats is an anomaly. No other large company does, even though they certainly receive requests as well. We know, for example, that all four major cellphone carriers in the U.S. have web portals that law enforcement and government officials can use to get user information. But there’s no indication from them how many requests they receive, if they review them, or if they comply with all of them. Google is part of a group called the DueProcessCoalition, a group that attempts to bring reforms to U.S. laws that allow broad, warrantless tapping of information by government officials. Yet, none of the other members of this group, such as AOL, AT&T, Facebook, or Microsoft, publish any such transparency information.

Then, there’s the so-called National Security Letters. Those are the letters that the FBI can send to anyone, asking for information about anything, without a warrant. These letters almost always come with a gag order as well, so the party who receives it cannot talk about it. The FBI issues over 50,000 such letters every year, and those cannot be part of any transparency report, since their very existence is kept secret. While they are supposed to be used in drug or terrorism cases, it’s long been suspected that they are being widely abused, and used for cases with nothing to do with national security. The Department of Justice confirmed that, indeed, this was the case.

Read the entire article here.
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