Boinkie's Blog


Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Passion of the Christ

I'm watching the Passion on TV...
But it's on cable, so the subtitles are not in English...
What is impresive is the eyes of Mary.
Why this actress did not get an Academy award, I will never know.
Actually, I do know...the film is not Politically correct...

just a "stay at home" mother?

I ask your prayers for this woman, so she may write and defend the faith.

However, a lot of the confusion about sexuality and marriage (see previous post) is not just modernist ideas (many of which go way back. Ever read the Fabians? Pius X's thesis against modernist heresy? Margaret Sanger? Mary Wollsteincraft?)

Today we think any woman who doesn't have equal job rights is wrong.
But what I found interesting is reading Edith Stein's essays...there is a section where she discusses how some people are unable to get the job of their heart and that suits their talents. So men were "forced" by economics, for example, to follow their father's job, or work as a labourer instead of a professor.

Even today, some who want to be doctors can't be, due to lack of money or more usually lack of talent. But some, like one of my cousins, chose against higher education because he had a family to support, and night school would mean no time with his children and wife and friends.

A second thing that much of the discussion gets wrong is the idea of a "stay at home mother". As a doctor, I never chose to stay at home, instead I chose to be single, and when I did have children, I took an easy job rather than finish my "second career" residency that would have led to the academic life I craved.

Many of my patients, when I asked them where they worked, would answer "I don't work"...then I asked them about housework and kids, and of course, all of them worked...and a lot of them did things for money like babysit or sew or work part time or grow gardens, or teach classes or sell crafts that they made.

So even today, mothers work.

But a lot of the feminist theology forgets that women WORK...and that until the days of modern conveniences, men could not live without a wife or a servant unless they were very rich...or they would live very poorly.

What about soldiers? Well, most armies had campfollowers to cook and sew and wash clothes.
What about mountain men? they had Indian wives. What about cowboys? They had Mexican servants to cook...and a high mortality thanks to lice and water borne disease...

Mary Ann Glendon, in her book Rights Talk, notes that the philosophers about the noble man that was not corrupted by society was wrong...because these philosophers did not bother to ask what the noble independent free woman and children were doing at the time. Noble savages lived communal lives that little resembled the noble and free savage of Rousseau..

In the third world, there is no social umbrella. You rely on your family.
Men worked as hunters or craftsmen or farmers, women usually were restricted to work that they could do while pregnant or breastfeeding children.

Men worked hard, but women's work was important.
The wife of Proverbs was a working woman because the family essentially was self sustaining, and she was the CEO of the household slaves and servants.

But in poor families, the woman had to do it all herself.
So Mary was not merely a "stay at home mother". She had to get up early and wash and prepare food for Joseph to eat. Then she had to fetch the water, clean the house, feed the animals, air out the bedlinen, get the grain, pound it, shell the beans and cook the porridge (in Palestine this meant lentil stew with barley and onions) and make the flat bread from scratch.
No electric grinder. threshing was done by hand. Wood had to be gathered. Children had to be watched. Preparing food over an open fire required a lot more skill than over a propane stove.
And finally, when the stew was cooking, you could sit. And spin thread for cloth. Or weave.

Without Mary, there was no food, not clothing...

So having the Church called the Bride of Christ not only has sexual connotations (i.e. God loves us like a passionate lover) and not only the idea that God will care for his church (God as a Husband and Father who cares for his child e.g. agape) but also the opposite:
That without the church, God's work cannot be done.

And each of us who are Christians are not only called to be loved, but are the handmaidens or servants, who work for our beloved.And as Benedict points out, we need the eros from God to better be his loving spouse and not just a rigid slave..

The need for truth

Anglican Bishop Nizar explains the need for truth and describes the difference between the "progressives" and traditionalists in the Anglican church in a thoughtful editorial in the UKTelegraph.

There is a serious breakdown of marriage discipline and, while I was there, the ECUSA bishops passed a resolution indicating their advocacy of same-sex marriage. This happened without any debate on the nature of marriage and how the Church contributed to a public understanding of such a vital social institution. Some in the Church are willing to abandon catholic order, which Anglicans have continued to maintain under pressure from other Churches, and also to revise requirements regarding life-style for those to be ordained deacon, priest or bishop. There are others who are compromising the Church's belief in the uniqueness of Christ's person and work in the cause of multi-faithism. Such views are affecting the integrity of Christian worship and sacramental discipline.
In a broad Church, comprehensiveness must be principled, otherwise there is the risk of disintegration. It is this risk which is becoming actual as more and more people argue that the Anglican Communion is just a loose federation with few, if any, firm doctrinal and moral moorings. In the past, Anglican comprehensiveness has been grounded in acknowledging the supremacy of the Bible, the authority of what Christians have always and everywhere believed, and of the Anglican formularies, such as the Book of Common Prayer, the Articles of Religion and the Ordinal, which bear witness to this faith. Such foundations are more and more dispensable these days, and it is this which has produced our present crisis

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The fine line between war and murder

Too often the MSM prints or reports headlines that give no details and no context.

In this article, the CSMonitor gives it's usual thoughtful discussion on the problem, giving concrete examples, such as what do you do when your prisoner goes for the gun of your partner, and in hindsight it turns out he was merely stumbling? or what about this example?

But some also suggest that the uncertain nature of an urban insurgency has created new ethical questions. "In training, one way to clear a building is to shoot, but is that reasonable in the circumstance?" asks Mr. Fidell. "We haven't had that much experience in house-to-house fighting." The question could be central to a Haditha court-martial....

One difference between a soldier and a cop is that, to use the old joke, the military shoots first and asks questions later. Cops have to hesitate, to make sure that the target is indeed threatening them.

Even in civilian life, cops sometimes kill people with cellphones, or get killed because they hesitate.

But in war, where the threat might include several shooters with automatic weapons, the two seconds hesitating might lead to the death not only of you but your battalion.

That's why I pointed out that Murtha, who should know better, should be ashamed for
second guessing his fellow Marines by accusing them of first degree (premediated murder) without full knowledge...especially since Murtha (who I once voted for, so I figure I can criticize) has quickly followed his burst of publicity with an announcement that he plans to seek to be speaker of the House if the Democrats win the congress.

As a doctor, we have to sometimes make life and death decisions based on inadequate data, or under pressure, or very very quickly.
If something goes wrong, it might be malpractice, poor judgement, lack of full information, or an adverse event that no one could have done anything about. And in very very rare cases, it could be murder.
Bad things sometimes happen to patients of the best of docs, which is why doctors hesitate to condemn their own unless something is very egregious or obvious.

Similarly, those who have not been soldiers in war have no right to judge harshly.
(I've been in two wars but as a civilian doc...and my joke is that the only time I was shot at was not in war but by a drunk in the US...but that's another story)

We docs know that taking responsibility means that you are responsible for your mistakes. But to claim an honest mistake is murder rather than either a mistake or bad judgement before the facts are known is not the way to keep morale up among those who carry the burdens.

And this is true for doctors as well as Marines.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Father's Faith

About a coach's faith that stands strong even after his son kills himself...

Source of this story of faith? ESPN...

Get Religion Blog comments HERE

Hentoff on Abortion

....At the dinner table one recent evening, their 9-year-old son — having heard a word whose meaning he didn't know — asked, "What is an abortion?" His mother, choosing her words carefully, described the procedure in simple terms.
"But," said her son, "that means killing the baby." The mother then explained that there are certain months during which an abortion cannot be performed, with very few exceptions. The 9-year-old shook his head. "But," he said, "it doesn't matter what month. It still means killing the babies."
Hearing the story, I wished it could be repeated to the justices of the Supreme Court, in the hope that at least five of them might act on this 9-year-old's clarity of thought and vision. ....

Read the whole thing...and as he laments, it will not stop with killing "fetuses".

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The John Paul II generation on Your Tube

And to think I almost didn't watch it...
Wonderful commentary on why one diocese has vocations and the other one does not...

Remember: Catholic means universal

misleading headline

New technique helps couples avoid transmitting tragic disease to baby

The headline is misleading...
You see, technically, the disease has already been transmitted to some of the embryos, and the decision is made on which embryos will have the chance to live. This is a better choice for the parents faced with having a child slowly die of a hereditary disease.

But it ignores that there ARE other choices.

A devout Catholic would say: refrain from sex, and adopt children. If you do get pregnant, it's God's will and so you should accept and love the child.
Few would agree.

Less devout believers in God would say: Use another means to have a child.
Or buy an egg or sperm from a donor who does not carry the gene.
Or adopt a "left over" embryo from those who used IVF to get pregnant.

The real problem is not the hard cases (As a Catholic I believe God's mercy covers many technically immoral decisions).

The real problem is that this is one more stop toward insisting on perfect babies.

And what happens to parents who "screen" for minor imperfections, but the child ends up deformed or retarded due to other unforseen reasons.
Of course you know the answer: Abortion...infanticide...euthanasia...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Narnia letter

From the BBC:
There is a widely held view that CS Lewis' Narnian chronicles carry a predominantly Christian theme.

The envelope the letter came in
Anne has kept the envelope for 44 years

And as far as Anne is aware, her letter is the only known document from the author which supports the argument that Aslan represented Jesus Christ.

Anne said she has often thought about what exactly was in the author's mind at the time he wrote to her.

"I think it must have been the mood he was in at the time, his wife had died a couple of years before, maybe he was just thinking about it a lot at the time," she said.

"I see it as a coincidence, but maybe not."

In the letter Lewis simply states that the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe tells the story of the "Crucifixion of Christ and the resurrection".

He also explains that the story of Prince Caspian "tells the restoration of the true religion after the corruption".

"If you read the letter he wrote to other children, none of them are like this at all," Anne said.

Personally, I prefer Tolkien to CS Lewis.
Lewis's childrens books came out too late for me, although I loved Grimm and other fairy tales.
But Tolkien's books have a beauty in them.
If I were to describe Tolkien in art, it would be a filligree, and the music would be Mozart.
Lewis is more earthy.
He would be more vivid but less detail, like Gaugauin.

Ironically, the professor in Lewis' book Out of the Silent planet and Perelandra is based on Tolkien...but the third book was more influenced in theme and style by Charles Williams. Carpenter in his book The Inklings says the Ransom character in this book is actually Charles williams...but I always wondered if the professor and his wife in book three were Tolkien and his wife...especially since Tolkien's wife disliked Lewis, who was awkward about women, but used to mother her husband's female students.

Lewis tutored mainly men until the 1940's, whereas Tolkien, as a married man, was assigned female students almost from the beginning of his professorship.
Yet few of them have written essays about him, whereas George Sayer has written about his tutor Lewis and also about Tolkien who was not his tutor but who he knew thru Lewis.

Tokien based the booming outgoing Treebeard on Tolkien, just as he based Sam on his servent and the Lancester Fusiliers who he met in World War I...not to mention the orc sargents and soldiers...
As a woman, I always wondered which of Tolkiens former students inspired the Eowyn character...
Usually, writers take a story and remould it.
Tolkien describes it as making soup, where the original ingredients are recooked into something different.
This is probably true for all good writing.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Quote of the day

The loss of joy does not make the world better -- and, conversely, refusing joy for the sake of suffering does not help those who suffer.
The contrary is true. The world needs people who discover the good, who rejoice in it and thereby derive the courage and impetus to do good.

We have a new need for that primordial trust which ultimately faith can give.
That the world is basically good, that God is there and is good.
That it is good to live and be a human being.
This results, then, in the courage to rejoice, which in turn becomes commitment to making sure that other people, too, can rejoice and recieve good news.
-- Cardinal Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth, pp. 36-37.

What would you do?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Nazi Doctors

Dr. Lifton's classic book on the Nazi doctors is now on line.

A good resource for pro life people...

Friday, June 09, 2006

remembering the past

I spent my vacation reading two books, one "virgin and martyr" by Andrew Greeley, and the other the Winds of War.

Virgin and Martyr is a good "history" of the church's self destruction by fads in the 1960's. The heroine keeps seeking to be loved by God by giving up what she really wants: her lover Nick.
First she is an old fashioned nun...then goes on to be a radical feminist anti war nun...then marries a priest "to help him" (he is, of course, a self absorbed jerk who is homosexual and using her to write his books and cover his promiscuity) then, when rescued from that maschosistic marriage, she runs off to South America to preach revolution.

And they end up going from a fuzzyminded idealism (with a complete void in economic realism) to supporting the idea of the revolution: That you have to destroy not only the government but the infrastructure, leaving a country in chaos that you can then take over since an exhausted hurting civilian population will prefer anything to chaos.

Now, this is not a new idea. It worked for the Boshevicks, and it worked for Hitler. It worked for the Taleban in Afghanistan. And it worked for Red China. You see, ordinary people are not political. They simply want to peacefully work at a decent job, support their family, care for their kids, and make love to their wife at life. Religion does not (contrary to THIS bimbo) promote passivity as much as the ability to tolorate things they can't change, and recognize that at least God has an ultimate plan behind all this, and he loves those who obey his will...religion is one comfort for one living a hard life..

But for missionaries to change people, they have to LOVE them, and respect that they might think and act differently not because they are "unenlightened" but because they have a different history...and many of the condemned customs have a reason...once you understand the reasons, you can assist them to decide to change (There are interesting stories on how village women were the ones in Egypt to decide against circumcizing their women, for example...)

THe problem was ideology...a narrow ideology that became a substitute religion, based on utopianism.
But men can never be perfect, and the answer is forgiveness and love and limits to those who can't change. But those ignoring that people can chose evil ignore that they can too chose evil. And unlike traditional religions, who at a pragmatic level are summaries of things that work, these new utopian ideologies have little basis in reality.

Now, I knew nuns who after spending a few weeks or months in South America preached radical communism...and I know Maryknollers who were more interested in the revolution than the welfare of the people...and, having family in the "third world", I am skeptical of outsiders who try to tell locals how to change while not really understanding the culture.

And I know a lay missionary who was a pilot who went to serve in Latin America. His job was to ferry medical and other supplies to distant isolated missions, but came home quickly when he found they were smuggling guns in the flights. The pilot was not a rich white liberal, but a Mexican American, and he told us that he objected to those making things worse for the regular people in the area by helping the somewhat murderous "militants".

What the radical priests and nuns could not see is how people actually live: caring for families, wanting to work, and needing the comfort of knowing God loves them.
What they also miss is that they assume a "we/them" idea. The revolution as good, the government as evil.

What they ignore is that there is a third way: Social democracy, capitalism and investments to make more jobs.

I ran into an old book about Marcos that preached this same line. Ah, but the answer was Ninoy and cory Acquino, and democracy...and luckily for the Philippines, the church followed the middle way. Alas, in some of the revolutionary central American countries the result is that Evangelicals have essentially converted Indians who rejected the violence of their elite NorteAmerican priests, but still loved Jesus.

Greeley skewers radicals, charismatics, and others, but keeps the idea of normal life as the ideal. Indeed, one paragraph discussing the changes mentions that the real heroes were the ones who simply tried to do their jobs, and yet it was these who were often marginalized or despised as standing in the way of the "changes" that were needed.

The Winds of War is somewhat more complicated. You see, a lot of the discussion is about how people saw Hitler in different ways...and the idea that some people were not ready for democracy.

Yup. Just like Filipinos, and Iraqis.

Monday, June 05, 2006

It's all about ME ME ME

This writer blasts Hollywood for making Africa their "pet project".

There is a lot of truth in it.

But the dirty little secret is that a lot of Dogoodism is narcissitic but usually in a good way.

You see, we are not angels, but imperfect beings.

In the "modern" world, being good meant to do something hard that you didn't want to do...this is not Catholicism, but Puritanism.

However, in the ancient world, being good was a habit. You practiced being good, and it got easier and more enjoyable, for being good was it's own reward.

Similarly, when I became a missionary, the more serious (protestant) Christians were puzzled, since I wasn't a Jesus freak.

But my Jewish friends congratulated me on doing a mitzvah. Doing a good deed was good, and doing it gave pleasure to the one giving and the one receiving the good.

Indeed, the best missionaries aren't the long faced hard working "I hate being here but I'm called by God to sacrifice myself" types, but the happy ones, the ones who enjoy strange places, enjoy challenges, liked people, and enjoy doing good deeds.

The liking/loving people is important. In the movie Monsieur Vincent, it ends with him telling his sisters that they have to love the poor so that the poor can forgive them for their help. If not, the poor will resent you.

Someone once criticized Princess Diana's good deeds for being egotistical (Psychologically she seemed to have tendencies of a borderline personality, rather than a narcissitic personality). However, I pointed out that many other egotistical types didn't bother "showing off" their love for HIV patients or poor people...they just got high and showed off their fancy dresses.

So let's take a little criticism but don't overdo it. After all, Namibia can use the money.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Joke of the day