Friday, June 29, 2012

"Legal" isn't Necessarily Right: My Take on Supreme Court Rulings

I've been concentrating on religious freedom, Fortnight For Freedom, and life issues, this week. This post is no exception:
  1. Supreme Court Ruling: I'm Disappointed, Not Discouraged
  2. "Clear, Positive and Captivating"
My views are as counter-cultural today as they were in the '60s. I didn't see eye-to-eye with the establishment, "the folks in America who hold influential political positions, important posts in business or academia, and the many others who like things pretty much the way they are." (September 15, 2011)

Having an "establishment" doesn't bother me. Any society will have a sort of 'in crowd.' My problem with the folks in charge now is essentially the same as it was in my youth. I think they've lost track of what's important to many of the rest of us: and believe their own propaganda.

I've discussed my beliefs, and attitudes, before:
Like I've said before: We're overdue for change, change is happening.

1. Supreme Court Ruling: I'm Disappointed, Not Discouraged

"Supreme Court upholds health care law, individual mandate"
Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News (June 28, 2012)

"The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, drawing cries of disappointment and concern from pro-life and religious freedom advocates nationwide.

"Christen Varley, executive director of Conscience Cause, a nonpartisan advocacy organization that works to secure and defend religious freedom, said that she was 'extremely disappointed' with the decision.

" 'The first line of the First Amendment in our Constitution guarantees all Americans the right to religious freedom, as our forefathers intended,' Varley said. 'Now, we have opened the door to a government that sees no limit to the amount of freedoms it can take away.'...
Maybe a connection between the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the First Amendment isn't obvious. Besides, the government's new set of rules has such a nice name: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Health, Values, and Getting a Grip

Who could possibly be against patient protection? And who wouldn't want affordable health care?

As a former lab rat, I appreciate patients having some degree of protection. (June 28, 2012) I also think being healthy is a good idea. More to the point, the Catholic Church values health:
  • Concern for health is a good idea
    (Catechism, 2288-2291)
    • Within reason
      (Catechism, 2289)
  • Scientific medical research is a good idea
    (Catechism, 2292-2296) (March 16, 2012)
As for "affordable" health care, that's a good idea too: basically. Again, the Catholic Church says so:
"...Access to primary health care and affordable life-saving drugs is vital to improving global health and fostering a shared globalized response to the basic needs of all...."
("Intervention of the Holy See at the 2009 High-Level Segment of ECOSOC, Secretariat of State," Mons. Silvano M. Tomasi, Secretariat of State (July, 9 2009))

Citizens Will Purchase Health Insurance

I think having health insurance is a good idea, and that most Americans are nowhere near as dimwitted and irresponsible as Washington seems to assume we are.

My wife and I have a health insurance policy: with the highest 'deductible' we could find. Our idea of "health insurance" is 'catastrophic' coverage: something that will help pay the bills, if medical intervention costing tens of thousands of dollars is needed.

Routine health maintenance is, for us, like any other recurring expense: we work out ways to pay for it. 'All expense paid' health insurance is, I suppose, nice: but even if we could afford it, I don't see the point. For us. Obviously, others have their own views. And I'm getting off-topic.

What my wife and I will do now that the feds are 'protecting' us, I don't know.

Maybe we'll be allowed to keep the sort of insurance we have. Maybe America's rulers will decide that we must drop our current plan, purchasing a 'correct' one.

One thing is fairly certain: Americans who do not purchase what the national government says we must will pay for our insolence.
"...In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled on June 28 that the law is constitutional, including an individual mandate that requires virtually all individuals to purchase health insurance plans.

"The justices said that while this mandate does not fall within the powers afforded by the commerce clause, the penalty that people must pay if they refuse to buy insurance can be understood instead as a kind of tax that Congress is authorized to impose under its taxing power...."

Faith, Conscience, and Rulers Leaders

I don't like my nation's rulers telling the rest of us to buy a particular service. But that's not the main reason that I'm very concerned about mandated 'health insurance.'

America's establishment thinks that 'health insurance' must include what's euphemistically called 'women's health services,' or 'reproductive health services.'

I'm a practicing Catholic, so my views are counter-cultural. Strongly so, in this case.

For starters, I think that religious freedom must include being allowed to act as if God matters. (May 4, 2012) That is not the same as "forcing my beliefs on others."

Even if I had the power, as a practicing Catholic I wouldn't be allowed to 'make' someone accept any faith: including mine.

I would, however, prefer that our rulers not force me and other Americans to chose between violating our conscience, or obeying the government. I'd also appreciate government officials who were more leaders, than rulers. There's an election coming up, and I'll get back to that.

"Legal" May Not be Right

I've been over this before:
  • Religious freedom is vital
    (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2104-2109)
    • For everybody
      (Catechism, 2106)
  • Some actions are always wrong
    (Catechism, 1789)
    • Even if the President says it's okay
      (Catechism, 2242)
  • Human life
    • Is sacred
      (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2258)
    • Begins at conception
    • (Catechism, 2270, 2274)
  • Murder is wrong
    (Catechism, 2259-2262, 2268-2269) (June 28, 2012, June 26, 2012)
The idea that something can be legal, and still be wrong, is something I learned in the '60s. When I became a Catholic, that's something I didn't have to unlearn. (Catechism, 2242) (June 28, 2012) It has to do with natural law, and that's another topic. (April 26, 2012)

I've read that the feds are willing to grant an "exemption" to organizations whose people have scruples about providing lethal 'health care,' or paying someone else to 'fix' pregnant women.

It's true, but the "exemption" isn't worth much. My opinion. (June 23, 2012) More to the point, in the opinion of Catholic bishops in America. (Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News)

Hope, History, and Elections

I'm not at all happy about the Supreme Court decision. Given the way America's government works, now that the justices decided (by a 5-4 vote) to go along with the President, it'll probably take years to extract the rules. Maybe longer.

On the bright side, there's an election coming up. I plan to vote: after studying what the candidates said; what they've actually done; and issues appearing on the ballot. I don't particularly enjoy the process, but it's a duty. Being Catholic, I'm required to be a good citizen. (Catechism, 2238-2243)

Whatever happens in the next few years, I hope and pray that America's government will soon recognize all human beings as 'real' people. There's reason for hope, in part because we've been through something like this before.

In 1857, the Supreme Court found a way to preserve a cherished American institution. Their decision was, I think, clever: and morally bankrupt. In that case, it took more than a century, a constitutional amendment, and a major war, to sort out the mess. (February 2, 2009)

America's government eventually recognized that all adult human beings, at least, are real people. I think they'll get around to extending that status to everyone: eventually.

This time, I hope the process takes less time: and is not as messy.

2. "Clear, Positive and Captivating"

"Catholic Voices equips laity to speak up in public debate"
Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News (June 28, 2012)

"Amid misrepresentations in the media and public square, a newly-formed U.S. lay Catholic group is working to communicate the Church's message in a way that is clear, positive and captivating.

" 'I think the role of the laity is to be engaged and knowledgeable and to show others the joyful, life-affirming nature of what the Church teaches,' said Kim Daniels, coordinator of Catholic Voices USA.

"Daniels told CNA on June 26 that the organization seeks to offer 'a new apologetics for the New Evangelization.'

"She described Catholic Voices USA as a group of lay faithful who have come together to help the Church 'make its case' in the public square...."
I've written about Catholic Voices USA before. (April 12, 2012) I think they've got a good idea: although I doubt that I'll be involved with them myself. I live in a small town in central Minnesota: far from the metropolitan areas where Catholic Voices USA is concentrating their attention.

Nothing wrong with that, by the way. I think it makes sense to concentrate resources where the most people can benefit.

Besides, Information Age technology makes a vast array of documents at the Vatican available to anyone with access to an Internet connection, a computer, and a browser. ( The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has a useful website, too. (

Ways to Evangelize, Good and Otherwise

With my background, the word "evangelizing" reminds me of Matthew 28:16-20, radio preachers with weird beliefs, and a dubiously-sane fellow screaming Bible verses at commuters.

Recently I've been running into 'preacher bots,' none-too-bright artificial intelligence entities spouting pious slogans online.

'Preacher bots' probably aren't a good idea, mostly because they seem to annoy more than inform:
Evangelization isn't a job 'for priests only.' Part of the vocation of lay people is "the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth." (Catechism, 900)

I think information technology is a good way to share "the divine message of salvation:" which is why I keep writing posts here.

First, Know "the Divine Message of Salvation"

The first job is to know what that message is.
"Whoever is called 'to teach Christ' must first seek 'the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus'; he must suffer 'the loss of all things . . .' in order to 'gain Christ and be found in him,' and 'to know him and the power of his resurrection, and [to] share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible [he] may attain the resurrection from the dead.'17"(Catechism, 428)
That bit about sharing my Lord's sufferings comes from Philippians 3:8-11. Like I've said before, Catholicism isn't exactly a 'feel-good' faith: but it does offer hope. And more:

'Talking the Talk, Walking the Walk'

Knowing my faith is vital, but it's not enough. 'Deeds speak louder than words' may be a cliche, but it's true.

Younger Americans may not remember the great televangelist meltdown in the late '80s and early '90s. That, and the recurring pedophile priest story, are cautionary examples.

It's one thing to 'talk the talk:' be an articulate, or at least colorful, advocate for a message. It's another to act as though the message means something to the person delivering it.

'Walking the walk' is important, too.

Acting as though God matters includes the sort of zipper issues that make juicy headlines: but there's a whole lot more to it.
"..The authentic witness of a Catholic life is important partly because 'you never know who is looking,' she [National Review Online's editor-at-large Kathryn Lopez] observed. Similarly, when you have 'access to a public platform,' you may never know who is consuming the material you produce.

" 'Media can be a powerful evangelization tool,' she said, 'even when it's not explicitly Catholic.'

"Lopez acknowledged that it can sometimes be tempting to become confused or discouraged by lack of feedback or negative responses.

" 'But that's all going to be fine if you know your real Editor is the one who gives you the words, too, as He brings peace to your heart,' she said."
(Michelle Bauman, CNA/EWTN News)

The Rules: Simple, But Not Easy

As I keep saying, the rules are basically simple:
'Love God, love your neighbor: everybody's your neighbor' sound simple: and it is. But it's not easy:
It's particularly hard to be loving, when those "negative responses" keep coming. But it's important.

The establishment's line about the 'hateful' Catholic Church, and it's 'oppressive' policies, isn't true. But it's been repeated so often that a surprising number of folks believe it, or at least are willing to accept that attitude.

Part of my job, particularly since I make no secret about being Catholic, is to avoid the sort of snide, bitter, taunting approach that reeks of self-righteousness.

That's something I much rather not deal with at my particular judgment. And that's yet another topic.

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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.