Boinkie's Blog


Friday, October 31, 2008

Haloween, All Saint day an our family in heaven

Here in the Philippines, Halloween is not a big holiday.

Oh, the upscale malls and fast food restaurants have Halloween parties, where kids come in costumes, but here in the Provinces, the big Holiday starts tomorrow: All Saint's Day and then All Soul's Day.

Most Catholics will go to Mass and pray for the dead, but the important part of
All Saint's Day is celebrated by families visiting the tombs of their ancestors, saying prayers for their souls. Then comes the important part: cleaning up the cemetery plots, and decorating them with flowers and candles.

Since all of this takes time, it means usually the families come with a picnic lunch, and the kids run around playing while the parents clean and decorate the tombs.

There are usually vendors there, selling things in case you forgot them: flowers, brooms, soap, paint and candles for the graves, and of course drinks and snacks and small toys for the kids, to keep them occupied while you clean up.

Usually also the local kids are there to "help" you clean: for ten cents they will sweep and throw away the dirt and leaves that tend to be blown around.

But the holiday is a way for families to renew their ties with their ancestors and their families, and here the families are large and extended, with aunts and uncles and cousins.

So visiting the graves is a family affair, because the dead who are in heaven are still part of your family, and pray for you.

Americans see themselves as individuals, but in Philippine culture, you are part of a family, and that includes the family who has died and gone before you to heaven.

In Catholicism, the phrase " communion of saints" is used to describe our ties to those who have gone before us.

And here, that idea is more than an empty phrase, but part of life.

All of this means no work, and a lot of traveling: Most people who live nearby will go back to their villages to visit and clean up the graves.

Give a short prayer for the travelers: That there are no major accidents and that there are no terror related bombs (always a risk here, luckily most are found before they go off).

In Manila, the police even announced plans to make certain streets one way to prevent traffic jams, and in the big cities, there are limits on vendors (for example, no beer is allowed to be sold in cemeteries).

The cemeteries here usually have box graves above ground (due to the high ground water level).
And in the richer and newer areas of the cemeteries, usually the families will have a small roof above the family plot, to keep rain off the visitors when they visit.
This is Dr. Ito's grave, with the box partly below ground and a cover...Lolo's mother has a concrete box with two relative next to her in a smaller plot.
From Ito one year anniversary

Our cemetery is about a mile away from the house, and since my husband Lolo has trouble walking we took the car there. We took a large bouquet for my husband's mother, and flowers for the other relatives. Even though we were a day early, people were there, cleaning up the graves (dead leaves removed, the boxes cleaned and whitewash applied if needed). We placed the candles and lit them and said some prayers, and laid the flowers on the graves before we moved on.

Tomorrow the crowds in the cemeteries will be huge, so we will probably not o back until Sunday. But we will attend Mass and remember the souls of our beloved ones who went before us.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

CCHD's funds to ACORN stopped


Should Catholic donations, given to help the poor via Catholic organizations, be diverted to secular organizations that support a partisan agenda?

This is the latest scandal involving the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. It seems that the Catholic bishops have been giving money to ACORN, a progressive organization that has been used by Senator Obama to gather votes to help him win the primary election over Senator Clinton.

Right now, ACORN is in the headlines for voter registration fraud: some reports say they have registering dead people, Mickey Mouse, and one teenager 18 times,.

Ah, but there is Good news: the Catholic Campaign for Human Development no longer will fund ACORN.

The bad news: the funding wasn't cut because ACORN was a partisan political organization, or because it supported a radical pro abortion Senator for president.

The funding was cut because of "financial irregularities".

Huh? You didn't know about the "financial irregularities"? Well, the NYTimes had an article about it last June, so it must be true.

It seems that in 1999-2000, the brother of the head/founder of ACORN embezzled a million dollars. The theft wasn't made public: Instead, the family agreed to repay the money if the thief wasn't prosecuted, and the board of the organization decided that they didn't want the bad publicity, so it was not reported to either the authorities as a crime, or to any of the donors that gave the money to ACORN.

The good news: The family has repaid one fifth of the amount so far. And once the whistleblower made it public, they announced that a "donor" will pay the rest back for them.

The bad news: The thief and his brother didn't resign from ACORN until June 2008, when the theft was made public.

So, immediately someone at the Bishop's conference...well, not exactly immediately. It took four months, but on Friday, the CCHD spokesman made an announcement that ACORN will no longer get money from the CCHD.

It made a big splash in the headlines: not.

Googling Catholic bishops and ACORN, you find the story only on Catholic sites, and not one in a major news paper.

In fact, there are only 163 stories that the embezzlement lawsuit by 2 of ACORN's 51 Board members, asking that ACORN to open it's books for financial investigation, has been dropped.

The full board said the lawsuit was a distraction, making it difficult to fight the real enemy: The Republicans accusing them of voter fraud.

But don't worry: The bishop's spokesman said that they will send accountants to check the books to assure everyone that no Catholic money has been stolen.

What's wrong with this picture?

Problem one: Catholics are urged to give money to the Campaign for Human development to "help the poor". The average Catholic thinks this is for food banks, rent payment, adoption fees, drug rehab programs, etc.

Yet the money isn't going to the poor: it is going to pay the salaries of community organizers.

Money donated by Catholics for Catholic organizations is being given to secular organizations that have little or nothing to do with Catholicism, and have nothing to do with actually helping the poor via direct action.

This is deception.

If Catholics want to give to such organizations, let them do it. Of at least let them know where the money goes, so they can chose where it goes (similar to many United Way donations).

Problem two: Progressive organizations often support abortion on demand.

In this case, ACORN workers were paid to work for Senator Obama's campaign, and Senator Obama is radically pro abortion.

Presumably, the Catholic money wasn't used here, but that's beside the point.

It's like a budget. Mom gives you ten dollars for gas money. That allows you to use ten dollars you have stashed away to buy marijuana. Mom isn't helping you buy drugs, so she's innocent....

Nonsense. She knows you buy drugs, so she also knows that any money she gives you enables you to buy more. In addiction medicine, this is called being an enabler.

Problem three: the CCHD spokesman assures us that they have "guidelines" that are supposed to examine where the money goes, and the bishops approve of the money.

I worked for the government. Let me tell you how these things work.

Usually certain people get together and suggest where funding is supposed to go. Often these groups include "forward looking" peace and justice types, who equate socialist type government programs with Catholic dogma.

So they get up their list, which is then presented to another board, which might actually include Catholic laypeople who might actually have some economic expertise.

Yet if one board member should ask: Why is so much money given to X? you can be sure that Sister Y will gives a summary of what they do and why they need money. But one wonders if the summary is phrased in language that obscures the political agenda of the group, so it gets passed.

There is an alternative explanation: the "board" that approves of the charities is from the same "peace and justice" wing of the church, and they equate the gospel with the progressive agenda, and seem oblivious that anyone would think differently.

As for the bishop: he has a million things to do, so often simply rubber stamps a list given to them by someone else.

So the CCHD will give money to ACORN, and on paper it is being given to them to help immigrants.

But once it is in ACORN's budget, the CCHD has no way of knowing if Catholic money had been given to voter registration, or for getting out the vote in the primaries for Senator Obama, or if it was part of the money embezzled.

But this begs the questions: why is Catholic money going to an organization with close ties to one political party that is on the forefront of promoting abortion in it's politics?

Finally, one is indeed happy to hear that, in light of the embezzlement, the CCHD will get some accountants to examine the books, to see if Catholic money was stolen.

But one suspects that, after the election complaints about ACORN is no longer in the news, that the grants will be reinstated without bothering to notify the average catholic in the pew.

Cross posting from another blog



By David Wilkerson

“For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

Here is God’s secret to spiritual strength: “Quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” The word for quietness in Hebrew means “repose.” And repose means calm, relaxed, free from all anxiety; to be still, to lie down with support underneath.

Not many Christians today have this kind of quietness and confidence. Multitudes are involved in a frenzy of activity, rushing madly to obtain wealth, possessions and pleasure. Even in the ministry, God’s servants run about worrying, fearing, looking for answers in conferences, seminars, best-selling books. Everyone wants guidance, solutions, something to calm their spirit. Yet they seek it in every source except the Lord. They don’t realize God has already spoken a word for them, through Isaiah: If they don’t turn to him as their source, their striving will end in sorrow and confusion.

Isaiah describes what God’s righteousness is supposed to accomplish in us: “The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah 32:17). If we’re truly walking in righteousness, our lives will bear the fruit of a calm spirit, quietness of heart and peace with God.

As Isaiah looked around, he saw God’s people fleeing to Egypt for help, trusting in men, relying on horses and chariots. Ambassadors were coming and going. Leaders were holding emergency strategy meetings. Everyone was in a panic, wailing, “What can we do?”

Isaiah assured them, “It doesn’t have to be this way. Return from your backsliding. Repent of your rebellion of trusting in others. Turn to the Lord, and he’ll cover you with a blanket of peace. He’ll give you quietness and rest in the midst of everything you’re facing.”

Monday, October 13, 2008

Supporting Democrats: Isn't promting social welfare a good thing?

Well, shouldn't Catholics support a party that would expand social welfare for poor people, even if it means supporting abortion?

This comes down to the unexpected consequences of trying to make life perfect.

Since sex is linked to childbearing and marriage, the society places an emphasis on responsibility for one's actions, including responsibility for sexual actions and their consequences.

The family may not be perfect, but the pressures on individuals allow a woman to know she will be safe and cared for, along with her children. In the Philippines, families are large, and help each other.

In traditional societies, you are part of a family, which is the main unit in society to provide for the sick, the injured, the old, the young, and the pregnant.

But once you destroy the family (and here the blame goes to the "sexual revolution" and easy divorce) you get societal breakdown.

As a doctor, I saw how welfare, as something only for "poor people" quickly morphed into a "get away from a strict mother by having a baby and getting a monthly check".
And I saw how an unexpected pregnancy went from "we parents will help you" or "Of course I'll marry you and take care of you and my child" to "well, it's your fault for getting pregnant so don't blame it on me" and "well, don't expect me to raise the kid, I have a job. Get an abortion and stay in school".

Yes, I support welfare, but I'm not sure the idea of easy to get welfare, when combined with the irresponsibility of the sexual revolution and the "me me me" ideas of freedom in America is a good combination.

To allow sexual freedom and seeing individuals as free from all rules, the problem is that the idea of personal responsibility shrivels.

We no longer have to rely on family, with all of it's problems and restrictions, or the local church, which is so judgemental. So where does one go for when one is in trouble? A government program.

Seeing the government as the one one relies on in troubles has another problem: it expands the power of the government over lives.

A third problem: The huge bureaucracy requires huge taxes to support it, and they increase the tax burden, there is less take home pay. The ultimate result is it makes it necessary for more women to enter the workforce in order to help support their families.

And, in these days of financial instability, one could notice a final problem: Who will support us in old age if our savings are lost?

The government.

But what if the government goes bankrupt? Unlikely...unless of course someone nukes New York and Washington...

Yet even in peace, with a large and aging population who because of divorce or choice lack family to care for them, who will care for the elderly?

The NYTimes already had an article discussing the problem of aging singles, and except for "nursing home insurance" and friends, didn't have many answers.

At least they were optimistic. At least one medical ethicist had an article some years back that says euthanasia of the demented was preferable than having a woman quit her job and be unable to save for her own old age by caring for her mother.

So what happens if the economy should fail, the government will not be there to provide cradle to grave goodies for the public? For thousands of years, the answer has been the family...and the simple compassionate types who sacrifice to help their family, and who try help strangers to the best of their ability....

Yup. The ordinary folk those fundamentalist types who worship a deity and try to live justly, be they Buddhist, Catholic or Muslim...

Will the Democrats export the culture of abortion?

If we get a Democratic president, the abortion agenda will be promoted overseas, with little publicity.

Your tax dollars at work.

The first thing that Clinton did when he was president was to expand "reproductive services" as part of American aid. And by "reproductive services", I don't mean simple voluntary family planning.

Many Catholic and Muslim countries where abortion was illegal or only for a few exceptions were pressured to make widespread abortion legal, under the threat of lowering American foreign aid.

Clinton also backed these groups in international conferences, whereas Bush joined Muslim countries and the Vatican in opposing pro abortion and pro homosexual policies at UN conferences.

Right now, in the Philippines, we are facing a similar "population bill", backed by the elite families and rich NGO's, to mandate government clinics give out birth control to poor women. Many other countries (India, Peru) who did this ended up sterilizing or placing IUD's in unwilling women. When I worked in Africa, many of our villages had no safe water supply, but they all had a "pill lady", who would give you the pill, but nothing else.

Here in the Philippines, if a woman wants or needs the pill, (and many Protestants here use birth control) private clinics are available, and condoms are sold in grocery markets. So why the push? After all, no one is stopping Planned Parenthood from donating free condoms to our rural SariSari stores (small shops that sell small things, such as snacks, ice, school supplies and telephone cards).

Ah, but it is not about choice, it's about coercion of the poor to stop breeding.

And it is being pushed on many levels, not just in government bills, but on TV and news papers.

The policy ignores that the widespread use of Natural Family planning here has resulted in strong marriages and a fall in the birth rate, and a very low HIV rate.

Many Asian countries object to various international "reproductive health" organizations that push birth control on the poor, push abortion on demand rather than subsidies for pregnant women, and teach western ideas of family planning in our schools (safe sex, not self control).

ironically,Filipino culture does quietly tolerate mistresses, and gays, but not promiscuity. Children born out of wedlock are supported by their father, who would be shamed and shunned if he deserted his natural children like too many American fathers do.

But outsiders aren't worried about reality, they want their agenda to be placed into law, never mind the local morals and customs.

So Catholics who support the Democrats in the name of Catholic social teaching will be guilty of spreading the culture of death not only in America but overseas...

Sister Alphonse, and Sister Margarita

Sister Alphonse, a native of Kerala, has just been affirmed as a saint by Pope Benedict.

She is still remembered in India for her sweetness and piety: she didn't teach, due to being sick much of the time, but children at the sister's school remember her smile more than any "big deeds", and were impressed that she would smile and be pleasent even to those who disliked her and the other sisters.

But one aspect of Sister's life was sort of hushed up in a lot of the reports: That she wished to be a nun, and when her family tried to marry her off, she walked into a fire to stop the marriage. One reason for her poor health were these burns.

Westerners, unaware that women in India and elsewhere were brought up to obey their parents in all things, including the parent's choice for a marriage partner, can't imagine the heroism of such a deed.

Yet when I worked in Africa as a missionary, I heard a similar story, from an unlikely source: one of our cheerful African sister-nurses who ran a local clinic.

Back then, the girls wishing to become nuns would wear a modified habit, and say their prayers and live with the sisters, while they received their basic education (nursing, education). They wouldn't take vows until after the education, because often the family, seeing an educated daughter who could bring the family a huge bride price, would order her home to marry. Some of these wives became the pillar of the lay community; others were married to abusive polygamists and lived a life of misery. But some of the girls resisted their parents, going against the strict customs, because of their desire to serve God.

One nurse who ran a busy clinic in our area I will call Sister Margarita. She was always laughing, and loved by all at the mission. One would think that she had never had a day of trouble in her life.

Then, one day she told us her story.

Her family was not Christian, but said nothing when she said she wished to be a sister. So she happily finished her "medical assistant" course, expecting to join the sisters after graduation.

But when she went home to visit family after graduation, she found that her father had accepted an offer of marriage for her.

"oh, I cried and cried", related Sister. "I couldn't eat, and couldn't sleep". Finally, after three months, her worried mother persuaded the father that they had two choices: a dead child, or a nun, and the father, who after all loved his daughter and thought marriage to the rich storekeeper was a good thing, gave in.

So Sister Margarita became a sister, spending her life cheerfully caring for her people.

Just an ordinary nun with an extraordinary story.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Part One:Allowing abortion in the name of "catholic social teaching"

Last week's NYTimes article shows insists that there is "dissent" in the church about the bishops stand, and the church is divided.

On one side, the bishops and 2000 years of moral teaching.

On the other side, the progressive nuns and priests who want to remake the church into a way to promote the "catholic social agenda", a political agenda where the government supplies all the needs for people, from cradle to grave.

Yet such programs are expensive, placing a heavy tax burden on working families and ignore the idea that social problems are best cared for by local institutions: The family, the church, and the local community.

Ah, but doesn't supporting the candidate of hope who promises federal welfare programs outweigh the problem that he supports abortion? After all, such welfare programs will lower the number of abortions..

Not true, on many levels.
And what makes it worse is that this type of thinking has contributed to the lack of pro life candidates in the Democratic party.

I'm old enough to remember when there used to be a lot of pro life Democrats, from John Kerry to Bill Clinton to Al Gore. They all changed their positions on the abortion question, not for moral reasons, but for one simple reason: because the Catholics stopped their active opposition to abortion on a political level for fear of religious ridicule, but the pro abortion types remained militant and well funded.

So they quickly learned: support abortion, and you get lots of campaign funds from progressive and pro abortion organizations. Oppose abortion, and you probably will face a well funded opponent in the primaries and be replaced.

Ah, but only Democrats will supply money so women can carry their pregnancy to term.

But I'm a doctor, and am puzzled by that argument.

The fact is that women who are pregnant and earn less than a set amount are already allowed to get their medical bills paid under Medicaid, and in 40 states, the income levels for who can get coverage is even higher. Medicaid also covers indigent children without health insurance.

Well, what about free medical care for all. Isn't medical care a "right"?

No, it's a responsibility.

And what do you mean by "right"? Do you have a right to birth control pills? To Viagra? To plastic surgery? to fixing your sore knee? To taking off those warts? to getting braces on your kid?

The list is endless...

There is indeed a need for "catastrophic medical insurance" to cover, say, a cardiac bypass on someone between jobs who lost their insurance. But making medical care a "right" has lots of problems, as anyone who has ever worked in the existing federal or state medical systems can relate.

Having worked in government clinics, I know there is a dnager that the budget will become more important than the patient.

But if the government takes over health care, the real worry is that these same progressives will be imposing medical standards on Catholic hospitals and physicians.

Many progressives are angry that Catholic hospitals won't cooperate with abortion and sterilization, and that a recent memo by the Bush administration has mandated that doctors, nurses and pharmacists will not be punished if they refuse to cooperate with medical procedures that go against their consciences.

Look for the morning after Pill to be mandated first, followed by sterilization mandates. (some states already mandate these abortifactant medicines be given in their emergency rooms).

This again is not a Catholic issue: Many Muslim doctors refuse to do abortions or give the "morning after pill"..

And expect government to give lots of money into embryonic stem cell research, even though scientific breakthroughs last year have made use of such cells unnecessary.

And expect the recent mandates by the Bush administration that protect the jobs of those refusing to cooperate with procedures or giving medicines that they oppose for religious reasons to go next. This probably will cover not only birth control, but the morning after pill, the abortion pill, and prescriptions for assisted suicide...

You see, there are many levels on which a President can promote abortion and the culture of death with little publicity.

And none of them are being discussed, even in the Catholic press...