William May, R.I.P.

Via old friend Kevin Jones comes news of the passing of Dr. William May, Catholic moral theologian. I take note of it because he was one of the first resources a valued friend (and Jesuit priest) pointed me to in my early days as a convert.

An even fuller appreciation is offered by Connie Marshner at the Human Life Review. A fascinating fact therein revealed is that May was an early dissenter from Humanae Vitae. At the time he was “a PhD candidate in philosophy at Marquette University.” [Where else?]. These were the heady days of Charles Curran’s reign of moral heterodoxy at the Catholic University of America. In Humanae Vitae‘s wake, Curran “organized Catholic theologians around the world to sign a public letter dissenting from the encyclical. Graduate students in theology and philosophy departments were pressured by their professors to sign the document.” May signed it.

As he later said, “It took courage not to sign the statement, and it took special courage in those who lacked secure employment.”

Shortly after, he was assigned by a publisher to edit Germain Grisez’s Contraception and the Natural Law, was convinced by the arguments, and “quietly” had his name removed from that document of dissent. So quietly that he was hired by CUA’s religion department, whose eminences did not know of his name’s removal. But after five years of classroom teaching in support of HV, the department fired him. Yeah, at a Catholic school.

Suffice it to say that he was rescued, by the slimmest of margins; you can read the rest at the HLR site. May labored tirelessly in that particular vineyard – the one in which marriage and the family are nurtured – for the rest of his days. The Pro-Life movement’s debt to him (among Catholic and non-Catholic alike) is probably beyond estimation.

Many of his written works are available at his homepage.

I hope he went straight to heaven.

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Linda Eder


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An interview…

…with the American Papist, Thomas Peters, who was paralyzed in a diving accident in 2013, can be found here.

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Krauthammer the consequentialist

[There's an update below the fold, i.e., below the video]

That is what the much-praised syndicated columnist, Fox News contributor, and best-selling author is. Not that this puts him out of touch with most conservatives and many conservative Christians – in fact, with most Americans. Says Krauthammer:

Now Dick Cheney on 9/11 gave the order to shoot down a civilian American airliner, had it not gone down in a field before it reached Washington. Can you imagine what that means, to deliberately kill a planeload of innocents because it had to be done given the alternative? This is a morally serious man.

Well, I have doubted this assertion before. I will grant that he’s honest enough to admit that the term “enhanced interrogation” is just a semantic legal dodge. He’s quite comfortable with the word ‘torture.’ People in responsible positions just can’t say it. See for yourself. It’s very brief:

Continue reading

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An excellent refutation…

here, of R.R. Reno’s stupid suggestion at First Things that Christian ministers “withdraw from acting as agents in state-sanctioned marriage,” thus severing the civil contract from the sacrament.

[Update]: In the Salt Lake Tribune, a Presbyterian pastor expresses his disdain for the marriage pledge, but for different reasons than my own. His article is full of irrelevancies, non sequiturs, and selective biblical references (“…he [Jesus] had little to say about marriage and nothing at all to say about sexual orientation”]. I don’t know to what branch of Presbyterianism the author belongs, but I was wondering whether it’s a denomination in decline, or on the increase.

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New Song…

…on the Music Page, composed and performed by Lillie Barnett, daughter of my friend and fellow editor of The Christendom Review, Rick Barnett. She wrote it for a college class assignment.

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New painting…

…atop the Landscapes and animals page. The backstory: it’s taken from a photograph of Mount Ranier in a Standard Oil Company travel atlas photograph that I found while cleaning out my father’s garage. It had been buried in a box for over 20 years, and originally belonged to my grandfather, so it’s probably of late 1940′s or early 50′s vintage.

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About a Girl

According to Kevin Williamson, Planned Parenthood has “commissioned” someone named Lena Dunham to get out the vote. Especially the girl vote. The rest of you can vote too, but especially if you’re on the side of the girls. Miss Dunham offers five reasons why you should vote. I don’t know who Lena Dunham is. I think I’ve heard the name somewhere, but in relation to what I have no idea. An excerpt from Williamson’s response:

It is an excellent fit, if you think about it: Our national commitment to permanent, asinine, incontinent juvenility, which results in, among other things, a million or so abortions a year, is not entirely unrelated to the cultural debasement that is the only possible explanation for the career of Lena Dunham. A people mature enough to manage the relationship between procreative input and procreative output without recourse to the surgical dismemberment of living human organisms probably would not find much of interest in the work of Miss Dunham. But we are a nation of adult children so horrified by the prospect of actual children that we put one in five of them to death for such excellent reasons as the desire to fit nicely into a prom dress…Miss Dunham, reflecting celebrity culture at large, makes a fetish of voting, and it is easy to see why: Voting is the most shallow gesture of citizenship there is, the issuance of a demand — a statement that “this is how the world should be,” as Miss Dunham puts it — imposing nothing in the way of reciprocal responsibility…But for Miss Dunham et al., this isn’t a question of citizenship — it’s a therapeutic matter. Voting, she promises, will offer “a sense of accomplishment,” knowledge that one has done the right thing, even “joy.” But checking a box is the most trivial accomplishment imaginable; having done so is no guarantee that one has done the right thing, inasmuch as voters routinely make bad decisions for evil reasons…Miss Dunham’s “all about me!” attitude toward the process of voting inevitably extends to the content of what she votes for, which is, in her telling, mostly about her sex life. Hammering down hard on the Caps Lock key, she writes: “The crazy and depressing truth is that there are people running for office right now who could actually affect your life. PARTICULARLY your sex life. PARTICULARLY if you’re a woman. Yup.”

…I would like to suggest, as gently as I can, that if you are voting as an act of self-gratification, if you do not understand the role that voting in fact plays in a constitutional republic, and if you need Lena Dunham to tell you why and how you should be voting — you should not vote. If you get your politics from actors and your news from television comedians — you should not vote. There’s no shame in it, your vote is statistically unlikely to affect the outcome of an election, and there are many much more meaningful ways to serve your country and your fellow man: Volunteer at a homeless shelter; join the Marine Corps; become a nun; start a business.

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Only the sick need a physician

On Yahoo News I’ve been seeing a lot of links to Huff Post articles that attempt to glorify the abortion “experience,” as though having one were like a trip to Six Flags. There is a website called The Abortion Diary where women can tell their abortion stories or, as their About page brags, “The Abortion Diary is an innovative response to a deep craving for connection and community building amongst people who have had abortion experiences.”

See? It’s an experience.

I couldn’t find any articles, just podcasts, most of them 15 or more minutes in length. I don’t have the patience. Besides, what are they going to tell me? That they had their babies killed? That a doctor went inside their bodies and cut the kid to pieces, or hormoned it into premature delivery, or burned its skin off with a hyper-salty solution?

Why do women want to tell these stories? One such is Amanda Englund.

I feel like I didn’t realize how much I needed to tell this story until it was happening,” she said. “And how I felt afterwards really showed me a part of myself that had stopped kind of living after the abortion experience.”

See? It’s an experience. Now I realize that her syntax is hard to follow. The first sentence doesn’t even make sense. But I am curious about that “part of myself that had stopped kind of living.” Kind of? You’re either dead or you’re alive. But she didn’t mean she had stopped living in the same way that her ex-baby had stopped living. She meant something else. I just don’t know what.

Says the Huff article:

For Englund, finally opening up about her experience made a small, but influential, change in her day-to-day life. “It just reopened a part of my life that I had closed so firmly,” she said.

Uh-huh. And what part would that be?

I feel like whenever you close something like that, other things are affected, other parts of yourself are affected. … It’s more of a subtle inward change that I experienced.”

She sure “feels like” a lot. But what is she talking about? The Huff propagandist tells us:

While few of her peers noticed the difference, Englund said that after processing her decision, she has fully embraced her sexuality in a new way.

I had a “feeling” that’s where we were headed.

It’s been nine years, so I’ve had a long time to really heal from it.

From what? And why did you need to heal from it?

But it’s just sort of my own self and how I relate to my body and how I feel about myself as a sexual person.

What is just sort of your own self? For God’s sake. Maybe she means that what needed healing was her reluctance to have sex out of fear of pregnancy, not out of guilt at having her baby killed. I’m just guessing. I refuse to listen to the podcast.

I’m having a lot better sex these days, and I know that it’s from telling that story and starting that path of healing.”

All’s well with the world then.

There’s another Huff article adulating one Leyla Josephine. It features a video in which Leyla recites her poem “I Think She was a She.” Leyla is billed as a “word poet” and “performance artist,” but her Glasgow brogue is so heavy I couldn’t tell whether she was a brilliant poet or dumb as a teapot. She repeats several times, “I am not ashamed.” To the “she” who is not here to appreciate the word poetry, Leyla pays a singular tribute:

I would’ve supported her right to choose. To choose a life for herself, a path for herself. I would’ve died for that right like she died for mine. I’m sorry, but you came at the wrong time.

Even if she’s smart, she’s stupid. The whole race is stupid. All sin is selfishness, some degrees of it more depraved than others, and of the sort that afflicts these women, I don’t think reason can repair it. I don’t like defaulting to despair, but we can’t be fixed. We’re too screwed up. It’s a kind of pscychopathy. We live in an age when people write poetry that celebrates the ‘right’ to kill a baby because he showed up “at the wrong time.” Sort of like Jesus, who apparently couldn’t wait until his parents were married. Joseph was not pleased. Things worked out in the end because he had angels to talk to. We don’t.

Pro-lifers like to talk about the ‘right to life.’ I’m sure Leyla believes in that right. She exercised it when she killed her baby. That people can think that a right to life is a license to kill illustrates my reason for losing faith in reason.

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Time and the sinner

We do know, however, that there is an eternal now, and that is God, because He exists outside of time. He made time. He is unchangeable so time doesn’t “happen” to Him the way it does to us. He has no past or future. He is only present. He is “is.” Remember from the Bible? “I am that I am.” (Hang in there, girls.) When we die, we will go into the presence of the eternal now. All that will be left of time will be past and, because it can’t be changed, that is what God will judge us for. If we are good in the present, it is because we were good in the past. I think the problem with people in hell is that they can’t stop living in the past; they can’t escape it because they can’t give it up; they were too comfortable with who they were, and when at last it came time to see God, they were not able to be sorry for who they were, and so God left them in the “time” they loved so much. That is why God entered time as Jesus Christ, to show us how to use it.

I’m in the middle of a project, putting together some old poems and letters – whose composition spans a period of 30 years – in book form as a keepsake for my children, and which were written for those children. I can’t believe I gave a disquisition on Time for a six and an eight year old.

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