Thursday, September 8, 2011

Going Global for Life: Wonderful News

A bunch of pro-life folks will start praying September 28, and keep it up for 40 days.

Big whoop? I think so. Particularly since they're getting together in:
  • America
    • 48 states
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Canada
    • 7 provinces
  • England
  • Germany
  • Puerto Rico
  • Spain
    (Source: 40 Days for Life, CNA)
The folks are participating in 40 Days for Life. ( It'll be 297 locations, globally. Their website has a locator map (, showing where the events are.

When I checked, the United States was pretty much a solid patch of markers, east of the Mississippi.

CNA (Catholic News Agency) says this is the first year for folks in Argentina and Germany.

This year's 40 Days for Life runs September 28 through November 6.

Prayer, Fasting, and Polarizing Pests

My hat's off to the folks who organize and participate in 40 Days for Life. They're the sort of 'trouble-making,' 'divisive,' 'polarizing' pests I think it'll take to make killing babies, sick people, and other inconveniences - illegal, as well as wrong.

Crime and/or Evil

Today's situation reminds me of the old Chicken Man radio program. His purpose was to fight "crime and/or evil." Something can be wrong, and still be legal. I'll get back to that.

40 Days for Life: "Nothing But an Invitation"

CNA (Catholic News Agency) did a pretty good writeup on 40 Days for Life:
"...'Forty Days for Life is nothing but an invitation - it's built on the basics,' [director Shawn] Carney said. 'It's prayer, it's showing up at these places where the babies are lost and it's fasting.'

"The 300 locations where the campaign will be held include over 70 new sites, he added.

"The initiative began in 2004 and consisted of Carney and his wife and friends in Bryan, Texas. It soon grew to such an extent that the group launched nationally in the fall of 2007 with 89 locations across the U.S.

"Over the last four years more than 400,000 have joined to pray and fast for an end to abortion and over 13,000 church congregations have participated in 40 Days for Life campaigns...."

"...'You can do something about that but that something has to be grounded in prayers, it needs to be peaceful and it needs to get people's attention,' Carney said...."

Not Being Decently Quiet

Folks in America are supposed to observe certain rules of decorum in polite society. One of these rules is that anyone gauche enough to have religious beliefs is to keep quiet about such indecent things. And never, ever, let ideas like "right" and "wrong" spill into public discourse.

Except when the proper sort think something is icky, of course.

'Although Personally Opposed to Cannibalism...'

"Although personally opposed to abortion, I do not feel I have the right to impose my beliefs on others" seems to have disappeared from politicos' short list of excuses. I think that's partly because too many folks started pointing out what it sounded like, with a simple substitution:
  • Although personally opposed to
    • Abortion...
    • Slavery...
    • Genocide...
    • Cannibalism...
The first example worked, I think in part because folks had been told so often by 'experts' that they shouldn't oppose abortion. Substitute terms that we hadn't been conditioned to ignore - and the bubble popped.

Good grief, what maniac would run on an 'although personally opposed to cannibalism..." ticket?

Maybe I shouldn't joke. A generation from now, someone might dust off Jonathan Swift's "Modest Proposal," and not realize it was heavy sarcasm.

The Catholic Church doesn't make a big issue of cannibalism, by the way - probably because it's not regarded as a "right" in most countries These days. Maybe not any: but I don't know that for sure. It's not a good idea, though: Wisdom 12:5 and all that.

Moving on.

How Dare They Oppose a Woman's Right to Kill Her Kids?

America's dominant culture doesn't like folks with beliefs similar to those of the Catholic Church voicing their opinion. Much less getting involved in public affairs.

They'd like us to believe that "separation of church and state" means that Americans should experience freedom from religion. That's an over-generalization, but uncomfortably close to reality.1

I'm slightly sympathetic, having grown up in a region infested by religious crackpots. But unlike my 'betters,' I studied what different faiths believed, and converted to Catholicism. Which is another topic.

Because I'm a practicing Catholic, I have to take an active role in public life.2

Laws, Ethics, and Reality

"Legal" should be "good," and "illegal" should be "bad." I think a problem we've had for at least the last several decades is that the 'right sort' think they control the underlying fabric of reality.

The problem with acting as if a secular authority can re-write creation's source code is that reality doesn't work that way.

The Supreme Court could, in principle, decide that the sun would rise in the north and set in the east - except for federal holidays, when it would describe a sort of spirally path over the contiguous 48 states.

But Earth would continue to spin, and the sun would continue it's highly predictable apparent movement through the sky. All in violation of the Supreme Court ruling. Holiday routes for the sun wouldn't happen, even if Congress unanimously approved an amendment to the Constitution backing up that loopy decision.

I think most folks understand that the laws of physics aren't subject to judges, politicos, or talk show hosts. When it comes to natural law in the moral sense - well, that's something that's not discussed much these days. Not in polite circles, anyway.

Science, Religion, and Getting a Grip: A Brief Digression

"Laws of physics?" Aren't folks with religious beliefs supposed to think that science is evil? I'm a Catholic, and I've been over this fairly often: "Science, Religion, and being Catholic ."

Natural Law: Immutable Principles in a Changing World

There's a sort of introduction to natural law in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1952, 1954-1960. Here's a key point:
"The natural law is immutable and permanent throughout the variations of history;10 it subsists under the flux of ideas and customs and supports their progress. The rules that express it remain substantially valid. Even when it is rejected in its very principles, it cannot be destroyed or removed from the heart of man. It always rises again in the life of individuals and societies:
"Theft is surely punished by your law, O Lord, and by the law that is written in the human heart, the law that iniquity itself does not efface.11"
(Catechism, 1958)
"Immutable?" Don't moral standards change over time?

Yes, and no.

For example, men aren't supposed to dress as women, or women as men. It's the Deuteronomy 22:5 thing. That's an immutable law.

What's changed - a lot - are the details. By contemporary American standards, Abraham and Moses wore dresses. Then there were the folks who seemed to think that the eternal, unchanging Word of God said that women should always dress just like they did in America, ca. 1940-1955. I've ranted about that before.3

Bottom Line? This is Wonderful News

I'm very happy to see 40 Days for Life continue to catch, around the world. I think we're in for big changes. Changes for the good.

The situation reminds me a bit of the 19th century, when slavery was still legal - in fewer and fewer places. Folks, in the Western world at least, were finally catching on that treating people like livestock wasn't a good idea.

Then, as now, bad behavior was defended by folks with economic interests at stake: and by those who liked being in a position of power over others. But too many others weren't happy about the status quo, and were changing the rules.

Some countries made the transition fairly quietly. The United States went through a second revolution that involved slavery, as well as other factors. The War Between the States was not holy avengers from the North forcing the wicked South to change their evil ways. And that's another topic.

Happily: after carpetbaggers, reconstruction, and about a century of fiddling around, the slavery issue was sorted out. Not perfectly, and - yet another topic.

Does Prayer Matter?

Finally, a little background:
  • Prayer matters
  • Human life is sacred
    • Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2258
  • The Catholic Church says the following are wrong:
By the way, the Catholic Church doesn't approve of killing yourself, but - I've been over that before, too:

Suicides, Science, Sin, and Me
Related posts:
In the news:

1 The notion that folks with religious views are dangerous seems deeply rooted in America's dominant culture:2 The Church expects Catholics to take an active part in public life. (Catechism, 1915) This offends America's dominant culture, since folks with religious beliefs are expected to stay decently quiet. And certainly not let any of that filthy religious stuff out where just simply anybody might see it.

Sort of like sex is supposed to have been in the Victorian era.

I've been over this before:
3 I think what sort of clothing a person wears is important - particularly during a Minnesota winter. On the other hand, some folks get more than a little crazy when it comes to dress codes:

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.