Thursday, July 31

A WSJ guest editorial takes on the nuke-protesting nuns

I have never gotten into the habit wars, having known a few nuns who managed to be wonderful witnesses to God's love without them, but I have to agree with my husband, who remarked that if these women wanted to demonstrate against the nuclear arsenal, it's hard to imagine a more powerful protest than three nuns in habits keeping prayerful vigil, praying the rosary at the gates. Real non-violence. Real witnessing, there.

For your consideration, and email I received today - a good discussion-starter, and perhaps an opportunity to help.

I was searching around town for the book the Art of Family Planning. Because I leave next week and my fiancee will be sticking around here, I thought it would be good to read that and get a working knowledge of NFP before our marriage. We are praying and reflecting upon our situation and believe because of our monetary situation and because we believe it would be prudent to build a solid foundation of love in the first year or two of our marriage that we should initially space children. Put a different way we believe that the Church's teaching on responsible parenthood is guiding us to space children at the beginning of our marriage. Of course we would welcome any child God gave to us. However, we are going to try to use NFP to know when my future bride is fertile and avoid marital relations in those times.

Well, I was at a local Catholic bookstore looking for the book and I explained to the woman working there that I wanted to learn NFP. I explained my situation (i.e. I am moving, engaged, getting married in November, want to learn some NFP stuff with my finance before I head out). She then said, "Oh, you aren't married yet?" "No," I said. She said, "Well, NFP is not birth control and it shouldn't be used for that. It's only supposed to be used for extreme, serious reasons. So it really isn't supposed to be used right when you get married. It would be a real shame if you guys started going down that road." I am not getting her words exactly right but I am closely approximating them. Basically, she seemed to be saying three things:

First, NFP is only supposed to be used in dire circumstances.

Two, dire circumstances are not present when you are newly married.

Three, you in particular don't have such circumstances.

I didn't know what to say. I basically shut down. In my mind she was starting from a fundamentally flawed view of the Church's teaching. And I don't think she is atypical. I have seen, read, and heard this type of approach before.

Let's be perfectly clear, I and my fiancee believe that artificial birth control is absolutely immoral. NFP offers a couple a morally licit way of spacing children. We believe that children should not be avoided because of selfish or unimportant reasons. We believe prayer and reflection need to guide the couple in discerning serious reasons for spacing children. But we also know that the Church calls us to responsible parenthood and that she does not delineate all the reasons you might licitly space children. She leaves this to the prayerful reflection of the married couple. In addition, it can be irresponsible to bring more children in the world or at least not to abstain from relations during the fertile times. The Church does not call us to have as many children as physically possible. However, listening to some it would seem that that is the case.

Also, I am not totally convinced by those who argue that NFP can be used with a contraceptive mentality. If by this they mean a mentality seeks to avoid children because the couple desires a nicer home or faster car, etc. then maybe I can buy it. But, I would have to believe that those using NFP are not people who really are using those sorts of reasons to space children. Maybe I am wrong. In addition, the self-control, communication, and tenderness that NFP seems to foster all would seem to mitigate the potential dangers.

As I've been thinking of the interaction which occurred earlier today, I have to think, it is no wonder that no one accepts the Church's teaching. We have people giving them a partial truth that is not compelling. I have a feeling that many of our NFP programs in pre-Cana classes are dominated by people like this woman and I think that is a very, very bad thing for the Church. Certainly, we need to always examine our motives for spacing children but where the heck was the idea of responsible parenthood.

A related link the correspondent sent along

Got this email:

I’m looking for help producing a radio piece for the Next Big Thing, which is a nationally syndicated public radio program. Please let me know if you can think of anyone who might be interested in telling their story.Here’s the idea: Phill Gramm did it. Condoleezza Rice did it. Winston Churchill did it -- twice. There are countless reasons why politicians switch parties – convenience, opportunities, ideology, geography… but what about ordinary people? In a country where party affiliations are often life long and handed down through the generations, the change can be huge and divisive. For a radio piece to be broadcast on the WNYC program, The Next Big Thing, I am looking for unusual stories of people who have switched their political party allegiance. Whether Democrat to Republican or Republican to Democrat, I’m looking for compelling stories of party hopping.

Contact Amanda Aronczyk at

A blog from the Episcopal Convention . Well worth reading.

hat tip to Captain Yips

Here's a link to the main page linking to all the General Convention posts

I've not commented on the Iraq situation of late because it just takes too darn much time to gather information in order to get the whole picture. Most American news agencies are mostly interested in stories with an easily-identifiable human faces: mortal attacks on American soldiers, the hunt for Hussein, et. al. They have no patience with analysis or more in-depth stories or stories without heroes or villains. So...while on the other hand, the work continues apace and, apparently things are improving - we don't read stories about the rebuilding of the infrastructure, if it's happenind, or whatever else is happening. The attacks are not the whole story, but they are happening, and real soldiers are dying, and I've read here and there that there are many more attacks han are being reported, because, in general, CentCom only reports attacks with fatalities.

And no one here uses the word "quagmire" and no one here thinks the work is impossible, and definitely no one here thinks the US should withdraw - that would be irresponsible and immoral at this point. Serious questions remain, however, about the relationship between truth and falsehood in regard to the arguments for war, and anyone who is seriously interested in issues of truth and integrity who blows these issues off, saying that the ends justifies the means..well..what truth and integrity are you speaking for anyway?

All of this is by way of unnecessary prologue to this quite startling quote from an op-ed that appears in the Washington Times today:

The North Vietnamese and their Viet Cong allies were bright, skilled, resourceful, well-led, and very brave.

In Iraq, we're fighting Arabs.


I am going to move a comment from the fecund comment box below up here to start a new thread with a slightly different angle. An anonymous commentor (not my favorite kind, but this is an interesting point, so I'll give him/her a pass) argues with the sentiment that commenting on the actions of a priest named in a newspaper article is unfair and could be categorized as "dumping on" by suggesting that if a priest had made news because of something he did that might be called "liberal" or whatever, these same defenders would have no trouble "dumping on" him.

I have no doubt that if Amy blogged an article that named a priest who say...preached a strong anti-war homily which displeased the political sentiments of these readers, they would be after him, by name, like a pack of dogs after a squirrel. Even if he did lead a holy life. Even if he did celebrate Mass according to the rubrics. Say if his name were Daniel Berrigan. He would not be treated gently by this crowd. Just admit it, folks. In your views, some people of some views can do no wrong, and others can do no right.

Hmmm....'s that for an interesting juxtaposition of posts?

For Camille Paglia fans:

She'll be interviewed live for 3 hours (with viewer questions, as well) on Sunday on C-Span2's BookTV

The Vatican's document on legal recognition of same-sex unions.


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