Category Archives: Invincible Ignorance

Catherine: A Poor Old Lady

Our fourteenth anniversary is coming up in a little bit.  Mariellen and I exchanged our vows after the 8:30am Mass in the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Newark, Ohio.  There was a woman there who witnessed the event; an older woman saying a few prayers after Mass.  When our brief ceremony was over, she approached us and said, “Here’s $20.00.  Buy yourselves a drink.”

We went home to our little apartment in Zanesville, all 205 sg. ft. of it and began our life together.  It has been a most unusual one.

For instance, for a while shortly after August 11th, our wedding day, we found ourselves involved in a fight to prevent the destruction by the city of a neighborhood nearby, and the forced relocation of more than 700 people, some of whose families had been living in their home for several generations.  Having watched the destruction of property and lives that is the only result I can see to come from “urban renewal”, and having time on my hands, I figured we were in an excellent position to lend a hand fighting this “neronic” move against folks whose only crime was being poor.  (Neronic is a word I just invented.  It means a violent, stupid and cruel policy implemented by any government or its agents against a defenseless citizenry.  You can probably think of a lot of Neronic things government at every level is doing to you; to everyone.)

It’s a long story, but we did have more than modest success, saved an awful lot of homes and property and did a little bit of good.

But, I’ll tell you something.  It was hard work, and sometimes it was heartbreaking.  Here’s a little story I wrote about a phone call I got from an old lady who lived in Greenwood, the neighborhood about to be executed in the interests of improving the city’s image. Catherine was the woman’s name.  My grandmother’s name was Catherine.  She knew about poverty and landlords and having to move from her home, too.  She was born in Ireland.

I think this thing appeared in the local paper.  Don’t know if anyone read it:

CATHERINE

“I don’t have to do this,” I say to myself listening to the rough voice on my answering machine.  “”This is Catherine L, on Greenwood?  And I’d like to talk to you.  My number is 555-1234, please.”

That’’s all.  A simple message. One of many that will be coming in over the next few weeks I fear.  I listen to it again and wonder at the question in her voice as she tells me she lives on Greenwood. In New York that rising note of question might be replaced by, “”You know!””  A challenge almost.  But this is not New York, and Catherine is no New Yorker.  I think about it a few minutes and pick up the phone.

“”Hello?”” she answers. ““Catherine, I’’m Peter Gallaher,”” I say.  “”You called me?””
“”Yeah,”” she replies, her old and worn voice sounding thick in my ears. I still find it hard understanding some of the people here.  Catherine is one of them.  Not unlike many people she speaks with the muffled sound of the toothless.  Gum disease is a fact of life in Zanesville, and the yellow pages are full of dentists specializing in dentures, here.

Catherine wants to know if I will pick her up and take her to a meeting of the group I have suddenly found myself in charge of,  People for the Greenwood Neighborhood Restoration.  But I was out when she called and she has found a ride in my absence.  Bill Briggs, a retired Presbyterian minister, will carry Catherine to the meeting.

She thanks me and says good bye.  For some reason I don’t want to end the conversation so I ask her just where she lives.  “”You know where I live, in the blue house just up at the other end of Greenwood.””  I ask her how she is feeling, is she well.  “”Oh, I got arthuritis, and lung problems and heart problems, but I’m mostly pretty good.””  She did honest to God say “arthuritis”, something I find endearing among some of the older people here.  Sometimes its ““the arthuritis””.  My  Irish Grandmother had “the arthuritis” also.  My Grandmother’’s name was Catherine.

Catherine tells me that she lives alone since her husband died in her blue house at the other end of Greenwood, at the end which is scheduled to be demolished and replaced with brand new lower income housing for the poor.  Catherine says, “”Say, can you tell me how much them new houses is going to cost?””  ““As far as I know, Catherine, the city says they’ll cost about $100,000.00 each,”” I answer.  ““Can you afford to buy a house for $100,000.00?”” I ask.  ““I can’t afford to buy no house like that.  Will they rent me one?””  ““Well, they plan to let people rent them to own them after 15 years.  Can you afford the rent?””  “”How much is it?”” her old voice asks me.  ““I think the city will charge about $400.00 a month.””  I answer trying to keep scorn and anger from my voice

“”I only get $600.00 a month from the Social Security and I don’t get much in the cheese and the food stamps on top of that,”” Catherine says in a flat voice.  “”How much rent are you paying now?”” I ask..  “”$200.00 with the utilities,”” comes the answer.  “”Well, Catherine, it looks like you won’t be able to live in one of those houses unless you could qualify for some kind of subsidy, and that might help you but only for about three and a half years.””  I ask her how old she is and she answers that she’’s sixty-nine.

Catherine tells me a bit more about herself saying that she’’s right now living in the best place she ever has had in Zanesville.  I know the house, a run down place a few hundred yards from the really squalid places that house people among whom I spend my time on Sundays.  Like many in this neighborhood Catherine has no car; has never owned one.  Her husband died several years ago and she’’s been alone since.  She mentions that she tried to get her widow’’s pension from the Social Security and only got $200.00 a month from them.  That means that he was probably earning next to nothing when he worked.  If he worked.  He was ninety-five when he died.  ““I just started getting sick after he died,”” she comments.  “”And it’’s got to where I can’t do much for myself anymore.””

““I had somebody to drive me into Columbus to see about his Black Lung, but I couldn’’t collect nothing,”” she says forlornly.  “”I don’t need it now.  I can get along,”” she adds.

I bet.  Her friend up the street, one of the few with a car up here, drives her to the store twice a week, and the Senior Center picks her up in a van three mornings a week and takes her over there.  She pays her friend $3.00 for each trip, money she can’’t afford to someone who needs it badly.  It’’s about four percent of her income if my very poor math skills are working.

“”I don’t need the Laundromat no more.  I got me a used washer last year.””  As she says that for some reason the vision of her walking down to the Muskingum River with a load of laundry on her head flashes through my mind.  “”But what’’ll I do if we all get moved?””  “Well,” I think to myself, “there’’s the river.”

Catherine, a sixty-nine year old widow living alone on $600.00 a month in a run down house hasn’’t heard from the city yet.  They have a plan for her though. The fellow who is writing the grant for the thirteen million dollars that the city will use to hire the men who will tear down her home and build a new house has said, “”Private home ownership is  what lifts people out of poverty”” — or something along those lines.  Private homes, boulevards and trees are the center of the plan the city has for this neighborhood of poor people.

He’’s also told me that the city doesn’’t expect more than twenty percent of the people who live in the neighborhood now to be able to live there when the project is finished and they’’ve all been “lifted out of poverty.”

But Catherine may have the last laugh.  She’s sixty-nine you know.  You do the math.  Her age, her health, a three and a half year subsidy?  She and a three year subsidy just might be a perfect match.

January 22, 2001

 

 

WHY NOT THE MOUSE NEXT TIME???

Somewhere around this time last year, as Mitt Romney was in the third year of his second run for the presidency, and the Republican field had been narrowed to the population of several states from a number just a few short of infinity I decided that it might be necessary actually to vote for someone who existed, who was a real person.  And so, I thought about voting for Mr. Romney, tall, handsome, smart and honest.

I had not voted for a human being in the last two elections; choosing instead to vote for Michael Mouse.  I had even dreamed up a slogan for the little fellow’s campaign: MY MAN IS A MOUSE!  I spoke to my friends, and may have convinced one or two of them (which would have been, possibly, more than I had of friends) to join in with me and promote MM’s run for the highest office in the land.

But, then, I listened to other voices, people whose powers of persuasion moved me to reconsider my position.  “It is silly,” they said, “you are just throwing away your vote by going into that booth and writing in the name of a cartoon character.  It is a senseless and meaningless gesture.”  I tried to argue that given the man occupying that office (who still occupies it) , and the fellow who had occupied it during the previous eight years, and the line -up of opponents/prospective candidates available, voting for someone who was a cartoon character seemed to me to make more sense than anything else.

Still..

In the end I caved, flipped a coin, sort of, and settled on Mr. America.  I guess I was thinking of that old song by the Coasters, “Along Came Jones”, and hoping he would get elected and rescue Sweet Sue (that’s us) from the gunslinger.

Little did I know that I should have stuck with Mickey.  At least I wouldn’t feel as if I had wasted a vote.  Because the word filtering out from the folks who know is that Old Mitt didn’t want the job anyway.  He tanked it.  And, we know from sad experience that the guy who has the job really doesn’t exist.  Oh, I mean he is there, all right, but he really has no idea about running a country, or doing much else than “chooming”, organizing a community (whatever in God’s name that is) or body surfing; or standing around while Ambassadors and other guys get murdered…and then not saying word one about it because the “investigation ” is still going on.  I mean his most common vote anywhere was “present”.  Well brain dead people are “present” too.  So are ghosts according to some folks.

Turns out they both stink.  If fact, they all stink, from Chicago Slim in the White House right down to the most junior jerk in the House of Representatives;  where about the only thing they represent is their own wallet, I think.

Anyway, I’m back on The Mouse’s bandwagon and there I intend to stay.  This morning I was having a cup of Joe with the Little Lady down at the local Dunkin’ Donuts.  There were a couple of old guys over in the corner jawing about the, how many, damn near 500 stupid and selfish men and women we send down to DC  to do nothing much good to or for anyone, and one of them says, “I’m 73 years old and I don’t think I am ever going to vote for another person for anything again.  I’m just going to go into the booth and scribble down a name, any name.”

My heart leaped!  If two old and nearly useless guys like him and me can have the same idea, what would it look like if 30 or 40 million of us went behind the curtain and did the same thing; if no one was elected, if the country actually followed the predictions of the polls and said, “None of the above?”  For anything, even School Board President, Dogcatcher, Registrar of Probate, President?

Because, you know, none of the folks there now seem to want to do anything at all about anything, and the guy we just sent back to the Oval Office hasn’t got the faintest idea about what needs doing, except that we need more money to do it.

Actually, I take that back.  It seems that one person does have a good idea, which idea won’t see the light of day down there.  The junior Senator from New Hampshire, Kelly Ayotte says all of those dopes don’t deserve a pay raise because they haven’t done anything for it.  That’s the first bit of sensible thinking I’ve heard come out of that swamp in about 12 years.

Now, if only they would return all the rest of the money we’ve given them for the past 12 years I might reconsider my support for The Mouse.  I know all of that dough might make our fall from the cliff just a little bit softer, turn it into a kind of velvety “smoosh” rather than a granite hard “SPLAT” when we hit bottom.

One thing that can be said for The Mouse is that at least he works cheap; a couple of nibbles of cheese now and then and he’s good for a week.

The Light and The Dark

You know, I should know better because I am part of the tradition.  So are about 95 percent of the folks who inhabit these great Untied States of America, whether or not they care to admit it.  I suppose saying that I am a part of the …oh, let’s make it a title…”Tradition” make me a little bit smug.  But, I really have no right to be smug, don’t you know.  What with all that’s happening around me now and for the next couple of weeks I am once more going to be torn between what I find myself doing and the nagging feeling that I should be doing something more.

Every year at this time the Christmas rush starts gathering momentum like a great avalanche.  (Aside:  Do I notice a trend, in keeping with everything else about this time of year to change the name of what we “do” to something called the “holiday shopping season”?) During the next few weeks until December 24th we’ll be unable to turn anywhere without being assaulted by reminders in the form of advertisements in every kind of media, crowds of people, impossibly clogged roads and a sort mania that one has a duty, in this world, to consume, and to do it on a vast scale.   (Good Saint Aldous Huxley, pray for us!)

Or else?  Well, or else financial and economic ruin will result for the nation; ruin greater than cliff jumping.  The business sections of papers and journals like the New York Slimes regularly carry stories on how fingers are being crossed and brows knit in hope and worry in corner offices all over the land.  They want us to spend and are afraid we won’t.

And so, we must shop.  It amounts to an obligation of good citizenship, I think, more important than voting often (and early); especially in light of the utter failure of anyone we elect to do anything at all constructive anywhere at any time.  It is as if we are solving our own mess by buying more and putting it all on the card.  And, it seems to me to be a responsibility we have assumed with unrivaled determination and a kind of manic joy akin to the feeling madmen might get by hitting themselves over and over with large pieces of wood.  One asks: to what good end, aside from the positive one of staving off another recession if one believes the grim forecasts from those bean counters and entrail readers?

Well, so that us and the kids (It’s always the kids, isn’t it, the little Darlin’s?) can have a good Christmas we always answer.  Really?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  This won’t be another of those “Put Christ Back in Christmas” exhortations; another foam flecked, fist shaking, roof raising rant.  That horse has left the barn long ago.  Nah, I’m, sure you already have every answer you’ll need, the best one being, “Huh?”  But, if we shop till we drop will that save us from hobo camps and bread lines next summer?  Must we exhaust ourselves in the interests of our fellow citizens and little Contemptua and the twins, Aspergone and Lubricious who just won’t be happy until they awaken and see $2,000.00 apiece worth of shiny plastic and metal things made in Indonesia, Bangladesh and China by kids their age, kids who eat one meal a week, scattered all over the play room?  Have we really an obligation to go out and spend hundreds on that new AIKIDO coffee pot that is also a flat screen TV, a poncho and a fly rod?  Is it the right thing to do if you love your country?  Is it?

I guess I don’t love America enough, or in the right way, because I’d like not to do that.  Yet, in spite of myself I enter the lists, and do battle with my fellow consumers in the interests of “truth, justice and the American way.”  Sometimes  when I am in the middle of this civic minded frenzy I hear a voice deep inside me, a small whisper.  “Whoa,” says the little thing, weakly.  “Wait a minute.  You know better.”  It asks, “Is this the “spirit” of Christmas?  Are you lighting a light in the darkness?”  But, then, the next flyer from Wal-Mart arrives full of stuff everyone doesn’t need but can’t do without.  There’s no escape from the exhortations, the temptations, to buy.  There’s no release from the obligation to get the next thing, the “new” thing, because it really is our duty so to do.  Fail in that and the lights will go out, the whole tinsel covered structure will come crashing down.

I’m torn because I know something else is going on.  I came of age in a time and place among people who seemed to intuit this isn’t all there is.  They lived with an understanding that something more exists both beyond and mixed in with what we can see and experience with the small bundle of only five senses we possess.   And, that fact set limits on them.  They gave over to the “mystery” of the things greater than them.   They knew that they were not the measure of all things, that no matter what they did, how hard they tried they would…on their own..never be the best they could be.

But, that’s a subject for another day.

This market madness which affects us more or less all year long, but especially so at this time of year, has about chased that sense of there being more to life than a time share in the Colorado Rockies so far down the road it just don’t count no more for many if not most of us.  And, poor kids, Clytemnestra and Rubicon will never even suspect it exists, plugged in as they will have been since age two.  Too bad.

We spend now, what is it, close to three months buying and getting and the day formerly known as Christmas begins when the kids wake up on December 25th.  It begins right around Halloween, and is really over when all the toys are opened, the videos take and the lights on the camcorder shut off.  Gorging, drinking, football games and bouncing girls in fur trimmed bikinis have more to do with blood sport in Coliseums than anything a civilized people would engage in.  When the day ends, when Uncle Grumpus, Aunt Morbidia and the cousins have driven off (Thank God!) all we have left is the feeling Miss Peggy Lee used to sing about: “Is that all there is?”  The lights are out.  Actually, despite the dancing reindeer and descending Santa out on the lawn, they never came on.  The lights never really came on.

The Feast of Christmas used to take a while to get ready for: four whole weeks.  It had a name, Advent, which meant something, someone, was coming.  I’ll leave you to wonder who or what that might be.  The way one got ready was to engage in a little interior house cleaning, practice being nice to each other and that jerk across the street, and clean up one’s act, generally.  Then Christmas came, the long awaited and welcomed time, and the celebration lasted for twelve days.  Some even kept it for forty days.  Imagine that!  By that time the year had turned and light was growing.  The world of sense mirrored that of the spirit.  How odd, that those ignorant ancestors of ours had a better idea?

I should know better, all right.  For crying out loud I do know better.  All that buying and all that getting, all those lights on all those trees and dancing blow up dolls on lawns can’t hold back the night.

Only one Light does that.

 

The Sheepul Vote (A Short Pastoral Fable)

The dictionary has something to say, here.  The definition of complaisance in one of the sources I checked is this: com·plai·sance (k m-pl s ns, -z ns) n. The inclination to comply willingly with the wishes of others; amiability. complaisance [kəmˈpleɪzəns] n

Sheep and cattle are complaisant.  As long as the grass is green and no wolves wander near, they are content to stand, even in the rain, outdoors and munch, moving only when the grass might grow too short, or the piles of ordure they produce a little too high.  From time to time the tender ones are carted off to “somewhere”.  No one of them left behind really notices or cares very much what that means for them.

The grass is green.

The shepherd’s whistle pierces the still air and the dogs are let in upon them, to run them here or there.  But, the sheep know.  The promise always is greener grass beyond the next gate.  This has been the way.  Always forward.

The shepherd never lies.  So the sheep willingly obey.  And, from time to time the tender ones are carted off to “somewhere”.  No one looks up.  The grass is green.

Soon, they will go forward once more, their slow ramble from green bit to green bit temporarily interrupted by the shepherd’s whistle, the little dogs busy  at their backs and the frenzied nip at the slackers.

But the grass is always greener there, wherever there may be.  The sheep neither know nor care.  That the shepherd knows, and that is enough.  Did the sheep once know?  It is too much to think about.

The grass is always greener after the sheep have gone forward..

And, the way is downhill.  Going forward is always easier when the direction is down.

Too late, alas.  The cliff.  Too late.

One , the last, turns before the plunge into darkness, and sees.  There was no grass at all.  The dogs smile.  The shepherd lied.

But the sheep have been complaisant.  They have been willing.  They believed, if it can be said that sheep are able to believe.  Some few may have even thought they were making a good choice.  And why not?  Every time they moved it was forward.  It was green.  It was down.

It was down.

Every change they made was a change to a better place.

Until the cliff.

“We believed unto death,” cry the sheep falling.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Now, I will beat you on the head until it hurts.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Every word or attitude is forbidden which by flattery, adulation, or complaisance encourages and confirms another in malicious acts and perverse conduct. Adulation is a grave fault if it makes one an accomplice in another’s vices or grave sins. Neither the desire to be of service nor friendship justifies duplicitous speech. Adulation is a venial sin when it only seeks to be agreeable, to avoid evil, to meet a need, or to obtain legitimate advantages.

But, what is it when it leads to debt, weakness and death?

To whom do children in our schools now sing?  Whose face appears on our flag? To whom do the sheep-like look for their “things”?  Who promises them greener pastures?

How close is the cliff?  Can you see its edge?

Dogs’ nipping.

Joe Blow and Sportin’ LIfe

George Weigel is a very smart fellow, a brilliant fellow I’d say, and always worth paying attention to. He always has something useful, something thoughtful to say, and his insights and observations, here at the bottom of this short “ramble on a theme by Weigel”, are both enlightening and helpful.

You see, he writes a little about Joe Biden in his article, and as I read it a thought occurred to my mind once again which had occurred before.  I have been thinking about Vice President Joe Biden, the former Senator from Delaware, the kid from Scranton who never really left tough town.  I’ve followed this Mr. Malaprop for a few years, now, and been by turns embarrassed for him and for the country, and angry.  Sometimes, back when he was a Senator, I would find myself wondering about the average IQ of the people who voted for him, who put him into office and kept him there year after embarrassing year.

I came to think of him, as he rose through the ranks of the Senate into positions of leadership, and then became a candidate for president some years ago, as a kind of thug, or perhaps merely a drunk, an out of control drunk; the kind of guy who likes a good fight after several boilermakers.  The kind of guy who starts the fight and never wins one, but nevertheless thinks he’s a hell of a tough guy.  In other words, a jerk.  Then I wondered about the people with whom he worked, his peers in Congress and in the Democratic Party, and wondered what motivated them to put up with, to “follow” this character from a bad 1940’s low budget comedy, this potato head with hair plugs?

It is a question I think I may have found the answer to, finally. For me, anyway, it seems to fit on some weird cosmic joke kind of level.  It explains how Joe (not Joseph) Biden, who is really a cartoon character right out of Loony Tunes, has been endured all of these years.  He is meant to be the Vice President in an Obama administration.  A more perfect fit could not be found in the world; in the universe.

You see, I think Joe Biden serves the same kind of role in the Obama administration that Stepin Fetchit served in the films in which he appeared way long ago, a dimwit good only for a laugh.  The fellow whose stage name was Stepin Fetchit, Lincoln Perry, was actually a pretty intelligent man who parlayed his stereotype into becoming the first black actor to be a millionaire.  But Joe Biden, who is by no means the brightest bulb on the tree, could not do that.  He has been a comic foil, and perhaps a backroom bouncer, who knows, all these years.  In a strange and shivering way his loud mouthed,  stumble bum, Ralph Cramden persona does serve a purpose, has served a purpose for all of the crooks and cronies, the boozers and bamboozlers we have had to endure down there in the SOG.  With a Joe Blow around, why even a Nancy Pelosi looks good..

Why then should he not be the perfect foil for Sportin’ Life, our current president.  The two of them would be a great vaudeville act, and I sometimes wonder if that isn’t what our government isn’t really all about. the longest running sit-com with the highest production cost of any program ever, West Wing with a laugh track.

Only I ain’t laughing.  I’m damn near tears.

Anyway, read Mr. Weigel’s brief reflection which contains the truth about Joe- Blow Biden.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/331893/catholic-reflections-endgame-2012-george-weigel#

Speaking With a Forked Tongue

In the old Westerns the Injuns would, with expressions of anger, disgust and sadness at the obvious stupidity of the whites and their continuous double dealing, say, “He speaks with a forked tongue.” Now, while making no comparisons between sitting presidents and squatting demons the term “a forked tongue”, and its close cousin “speaking from both sides of his mouth, does conjure  unwelcome notions and sad memories, paint an ugly pictures of avoidable tragedies. What must one do to be rid of such unwholesome thoughts?

You are probably wondering why the little musing above.  From among the very many stories which one may choose I offer this one.

This latest example speaks of  one who sneaks away in the middle of the night to fly across the globe and creep before the sun rises into the besieged city, sign something that pledges to leave and to stay at the same time, promises…like someone we once one heard promise?…this war is over and then fly home to fanfares and trumpets, proclaiming…like someone we have heard before?…the equivalent of peace in our time.

Oh, the cynic will say, “All of them do that.”  Let them say it.  They are probably right.  The squatting demon says it, too.  And, he knows, that as long as enough fools listen and “Hope” where hope is vain, and trust where trust is poison, he will have so much fun.

Bring Out Your Dead!

“Good Lord, Agonia, will you take a look at this!”  One wonders if anything will shock over in Blighty any more.  Or, have they finally exhausted decency.

The blog...and the comments…show, to me anyway, the insidious nature of the creepy materialism that has gotten into our minds and souls, like the cold and damp of a British winter infects the very bones. It is an ache.

Wars and crises over the years (broadcast in real time and live on TV) have hardened us to those horrors we were once blissfully unaware of, and in that ignorance thought ourselves incapable of descending to.  Too late we learned, shuddered and were sickened.  Now?  Time has removed all sense of horror at the millions lost last century; the hundreds of millions shot, bombed, burned, starved and neglected to death.  Some, many, even doubt it happened.

And so this begins to occur, slowly first, and spread, a plague of materialism, a coarsening of intellect, a hardening of heart, a selfish willingness to think anything, to consider any option for comfort and ease in the name of self.  In the names of one extreme sort of materialism or other they participate willingly in worse horrors and propose little domestic horrors-a- day to cure a headache, improve a soft drink or cookie, to warm a swimming pool.

The “wonderful” promises of advances in medicine and science if we just ignore our common humanity allow us to forget that in many ways those advances come at the expense of life, and what was thought, once, our special place in the order of the world, and the dignity that place gave us…creatures of matter and spirit joined.    This latest is thought so little of other than a means of recycling something which would be left to rot.  Imagine how many profitable acres could be reclaimed for malls and sub-divisions from cemeteries?  Imagine Arlington as a Hyatt resort, a Four Seasons, a Ritz-Carlton?  Why not?  What is the corpse of s soldier but dead flesh and good fuel.  Did he not serve his country in life?  Why not serve as well dead?

Now as this article accompanying the blog post tells us we can and should entertain thoughts about good and practical things to do with our leftovers and if we can think of doing it, why, then we should do it. I do hope, at least, that they will make sure to save the hair, the fillings, the eyeglasses and the dentures before they fire up the furnace.

Oh, yes, and the fat, too, wonderful as an engine lube, don’t you know.

“Darling, since you put Grandpa’s Own in the car, we’ve lost that nasty ping and knocking and gotten another 10mpg. out if it.” “Yes we have, Agonia.  Best move I ever made, my pet.”

As you’ll see from the comments to the good priest’s blog post, at least one of his interlocutors finds little if anything wrong with the idea.  Good St. Johnathan Swift, Pray for us!

A Letter to a Friend

Someone recently communicated with me urging on me their understanding of this pas de deux between Holy Mother Church and Uncle Sugar’s current mob in DC over whether or not it would be right and just, proper and helpful toward salvation for the latter organization to insist that the former one knuckle under and forget all this drama about rights of conscience and freedom of religion, and concentrate simply of ponying up the money simple folks need for recently defined simple medical procedures, medications and/or apparatuses.  He took the road more traveled.  Below I try to tell him why I will not.

Have I made it simple enough for him?

Dear “N”,

It is simple, actually.  Pay attention, here.

Let us say that you  have a little business, and the business has three employees.  Let us say further that the government has recently passed a law that anyone who is an employer (you) has to buy health insurance for their employee(s).  That would be the fellow working for you, Billy Bucketbellie.  Still further, let us say that the law requiring you to buy that insurance also states that cosmetic plastic surgery (Nips and Tucks, botox in the butt, nose jobs, etc., even such things as multiple piercings and outlandish tattoos in strange places) are legitimate treatments for legitimate medical problems for the purposes of this new law (We will call the whole thing Reconstructive Health, which term was born as the twin of the Supreme Court decision granting to everyone everywhere their Reconstructive Rights), such that if someone has a skinny butt or a droopy neck and they don’t want it, they have every right to get it taken care of.  And let us say that such Reconstructive Health procedures will be provided absolutely cost free  under the new government ordered and employer paid for health plans that you, thee employer now must get for your employee(s).  There will be no charge to anyone at any time if they want to avail themselves of Reconstructive Health treatments or devices (push up bras are covered…even for men) including no co-pay at the providers office.

It is odd this, is it not?  I mean heart disease, cancer, diabetes and bee sting allergies will all require at least co-payments, but  Reconstructive Health  is provided absolutely cost free.  But, the  Reconstructive Health industry, by the way, is known to have a very strong lobby, and Congress, all of Washington DC is filled with a lot of pierced and tattooed people and people who know them.  Anyway, I continue.

Let us say that you and your family are  True Believers , and what you are true believers of is the  Church of the Original Form .  You believe that the body you were born into the world with is the one God wanted you to have; that since God is all knowing and all good, in His Divine Wisdom he gave you the one body in all eternity that most perfectly fits His image in you and for you, and is a reflection of His Mighty Power and Love to all the world.  Let us say that.  Finally let us say that one of the most sacred doctrines and dogmas of the COF and its believers is that because of this belief in the originality and uniqueness of one’s body it is a grievous sin and an offense against one’s deeply held beliefs actually to alter it in any way through surgical or other means, unless in the course of treatment for a disease or a serious accident.  Furthermore, it is also a serious sin to participate knowingly in someone else’s willing resort to any  Reconstructive Health Procedure.  Your conscience tells you that you cannot participate in this government mandated insurance program as it it presently constructed.  To do so would involve you directly in grave sin.

While you would feel sorry that your employee Mr. Bucketbellie had an operation to remove his wattle, and you would pray for his soul, you cannot in however small a way, join him in that decision, and you consider it a violation of your Constitutional right freely to practice your religion without the interference of government now to be required to provide the insurance which will allow him so to do.

No one anywhere is saying that the Bucketbellie’s of the nation may not pierce, cut,and color themselves as they wish.  They are simply saying that the government should not force them to provide insurance for those poor fools to do so.

I’ll make it more simple, if I can.  Perhaps you don’t smoke, you never smoked and you don’t like to breath second hand smoke. Let us put you back in that business again, and suppose that you have hired Bob Rawthroat, a chain smoker who goes through six packs a day (God help him).  Now comes the government with another plan to save the tobacco growers of the country from ruin and poverty.  You must contribute half the cost of Bob’s half carton of coffin nails each day.

Wanna do that?  I don’t.  While I have no employees yet, I do own a small business and I will not participate in any plan that requires me to pay for something I consider it would be a violation of my conscience so to do.  The bargain I had with this Republic guarantees me the right to do that.  It has broken faith with me, and that is not only wrong, it’s downright despicably wrong, and the people responsible for it are as a former teacher of mine was wont to say, cruds and worms, cruddy worms, for so doing.  I do not like them and applaud the decision of anyone not to obey the law.  It is a treacherous thing to do to a citizen, and makes me wonder if a government can commit the crime of treason against its own citizens.

Yours In Patriotic Duty,

Peter

A Woman Said

What follows was part of a discussion on a well known “social media site”.  I copied it because I thought it said a lot about a great divide in our country, the one between two kinds of people, two generations, two different world views, two different cultures.  It was occasioned by the appearance of a cartoon showing the President of these Untied States wearing the clerical robes of a pope.  It was s satirical cartoon designed for strong reactions, and it got them.  People objected to the artist’s robing Obama as the Catholic Pontiff, commented on his support for abortion and his refusal to recognize the conscience rights of Catholics.  Someone, a young woman, wrote:

I find it disturbing, but I’m mostly offended by the commentary it represents. I don’t like Obama, but I don’t find him to be any more “tyrannical” or arrogant than any other President we’ve had. Calling him a Communist really just illuminates one’s complete misunderstanding of communism, and the equation of abortion with the Holocaust as well as the implication that requiring insurance to cover birth control is equal to abortion, just pisses me off.

And someone replied that while the Holocaust had destroyed a mere 6 million, the death toll from abortion was much higher than that.  They wanted to know why such a thing as that comparison “pissed her off”.  The lady said:

Because those Jews weren’t unborn fetuses whose existence required the cooperation of women whose bodies they’d be inhabiting, stressing, straining and whose lives they’d be massively impacting irreparably as a result…. I think people have a right to liberty and pursuit of happiness. I don’t think carrying unwanted pregnancies to term is part of either of those things.

This occasioned a criticism of the lady’s position on abortion and contraception as rights guaranteed by the Constitution and legitimate medical procedures necessary for good reproductive healthShe took issue:

Yeah… I disagree. People have a right to want to get off with a partner without getting pregnant as a result, and they also have a right to end pregnancies. You see – there’s a part of anyone’s moral compass that may say “well, in the event of rape – or in the event of medical complications – or in the event of abuse – or in the event of an accident…” well guess what – I don’t think the government should be sitting in a woman’s doctor’s office with her… and I don’t consider myself or anyone else an appropriate judge of when it’s “okay” and it’s not to abort an unwanted fetus – so in the interest of liberty, I’m going to excuse myself and the government acting on my behalf, and anyone else I have the power to excuse, of the right to decide when that woman may exercise her physical autonomy. She is a free being – if she chooses to allow a fetus to grow inside her, if she chooses to remove it – that’s entirely none of anybody else’s business. The moral consequences are hers alone, whatever they may be….  I think people have a right to liberty and pursuit of happiness. I don’t think carrying unwanted pregnancies to term is part of either of those things.

As for the requirement that private employer’s insurance policies cover contraception – I could go on at length about the necessity of hormonal birth control for many women (such as myself) for entirely NON-birth control related reasons (if I don’t take it, I get terrible cysts due to my endometriosis – cysts that may very well prevent me from getting pregnant in the future when I choose to) – but also that I don’t think an employer, whether or not it’s the Catholic church, should be making the medical decisions of its employees. Removing one area of coverage allows others to be chipped away at – and employers and insurance companies may find it in their interest to lower premiums by not covering many routine and/or necessary procedures they chose not to agree with for whatever reason.

Someone took issue with her position:

You need not go on at length about the necessity of hormonal treatments for many women. I am relying only on my memory, and anecdotes from a woman (my first mother-in-law, may she rest in peace) who worked for one of the doctors who developed such medications here, but I seem to recall that he and his colleagues were concerned to develop medications for those conditions…and to regulate the menstrual cycles of their patients who were having trouble conceiving. I got the distinct impression that this one doctor, at least, was dismayed at what has been made of his work, since. That is merely an impression, though.

That said, it would be heartless of me to seek to bar someone who needed an effective treatment from getting it, and I would think the same of anyone else who held that view, that they were heartless. However, I would give odds that the number of therapeutic uses to which those medications are put is far outweighed by the number of women who use them for what is thought by most of the world to be their only use. You and I do not agree that people have a” right to get off with a partner without getting pregnant as a result”, especially if the exercise of that “right” requires me…or any other person, or organization….whose religion and deeply held belief consider such a thing morally reprehensible. More than that, I am not alone in thinking that requiring persons who so believe to pay for the means to do so in however small a part is equally reprehensible. In such a case, my constitutional right to the free practice of my religion trumped the other” right” you champion so eloquently…until January 20.

Let me make myself clear, here. There is no right that I know to health care of any kind either enumerated in the constitution or to be found in the shadows of those rights enumerated…except for abortion from 1973, a procedure which I and many others consider homicide, now made legal and claimed as a right, and simply because it is performed by doctors in clinics and hospitals also recognized as a “therapeutic” procedure…an Orwellian mangling of language if ever there was one.

Finally, I’ll risk being possibly incorrect on your position about Obamacare, but I think I will be safe in concluding that whatever it is, your position and mine on the so called “mandate” and its subsequent amendment meet with your approval. If I am wrong you may chalk it up to my leaping to that conclusion from your assertion of a right to mutual getting off without the risk/threat of pregnancy.  Even though the exercise of that right requires the use of some forms of contraception for a perversion of their original purpose.

Time and space do not permit an exploration of why I would reject as immoral such things. Time and space do not allow, either, for a discussion which I think needs being had in this country about responsibilities and duties rather than rights; concepts which would seem to me to rule out such things as mutual getting off without the risk of pregnancy. Suffice to say the arguments would be framed within natural law principles, which I suppose you know well and reject. And, now, I retire.

And that is the way it rests.  Silence reigns, and no one is satisfied with anyone else.

It’s a Ding Dong World #7659

I just read a short bit on a web site called Bio-Edge about this news article and the report it refers to from Old Blighty, where it seems down is up and verse visa.  The fellow mentioned that over there 98% of ladies who get their wombs hoovered do so to avoid the mental distress of  giving birth and raising a kid.  They are very kind in Blighty.

“I simply can’t bear the thought of having this around all that time and missing the Queen’s birthday, or Ascot and all those lovely hats.”

“Not a problem, Lady Snuffem.  We’ll have this out of you in plenty of time for tea.”

The writer asks if the report means that now 98% of British abortions are illegal.  Good question.  Who’s lying to whom?  And, what about the odd duck who does commit suicide, or feel bad for years about having had an abortion.  Would she have felt as bad had the child been born and lived, and was living now?  Is the stress of child rearing a good enough reason to have them all killed…or 98% of them anyway of all of them who are headed for the recycling center?  Shhh!  There are questions which politeness requires us not to ask.

Good Lord, it just occurred to me that may be the reason why the British have all of those fogs and mists and moors to wail upon.  The whole place is neurasthenic.

It is encouraging to note that the doctors who have done the study seem to think that there is some stress accompanying the decision to end a pregnancy before a pregnancy ends.  That may be, if the 98% number tells the truth.  Of course it must tell the truth.  Don’t we all know numbers don’t lie, because , well, who really wants to be pregnant?

“Oh, Dr. Slippenfall, Montague says we just cannot visit Majorca this summer if I am still preggers.  There is such tension at home.”

“Now, now, Adelaide, I know Montague.  His practice requires a rest every once in a while, and you do have that lovely little bulldog Chelsea.”

“Well, if you say so.  There are all of those new things I bought which would just devastate me to leave behind.”

And, so, they will probably conclude and recommend that more should be done about this problem of unwanted pregnancy.  The solution, since ending them seems to be about a guilt free as getting rid of the trash, will probably be to recommend more abortion.

That’s what I think will happen, anyway.  Given the trend toward the death option over there from both ends of the average life span, I figure the place will be empty in about 50 years.