Thursday, August 27, 2009

When party comes before principle

As a pro-life Catholic (who would think there could be anything else?!), one of the things that most saddens and infuriates me are people who - sometimes from the rooftops - proclaim their pro-life beliefs, then act in complete defiance of them. Nowhere does this seem to be more prevalent than in the higher echelons of the Democratic Party.

I have often said I am pro-life first, before any loyalties to a particular political party. As an illustration, I sometimes tell people that if a pro-life Democrat were running against a pro-choice Republican, I would vote Democrat. The problem is, I've never been given the chance.

I know there are Democrats out there who are ardently pro-life and believe they can change the party from the inside. A guy I was friends with in college falls into this category, in fact. I wish him luck. However, it seems that anyone who desires to advance within the party must first check his or her pro-life beliefs at the door.

One example comes from here in Colorado. In 2006, The Los Angeles Times reported that "local abortion rights activists [were] despondent" because their only choice against pro-life, Catholic Republican Bob Beauprez was self-described pro-life, Catholic Democrat Bill Ritter. Well, it turns out that they really had no reason to fear for their agenda.

As former Colorado State Treasurer Mark Hillman
pointed out just over a year ago, "Ritter restored state funding for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains; signed legislation that requires all Roman Catholic hospitals to distribute emergency contraception to rape survivors; said he will not seek to appoint judges who oppose abortion rights; and has 'no antiabortion legislation on his agenda.'" Noting Ritter's propensity for trying to come down on both sides of the fence on other matters (such as labor issues) Hillman notes, "Once a politician trades for political gain what he knows to be right on an issue as fundamental as human life, it's hard to imagine anything he won't compromise. With no discernible core beliefs - except the desire to be governor - Ritter is understandably indecisive."

Another example comes from a column by Colman McCarthy in
The Washington Post during the 1988 presidential campaign. McCarthy describes a hypothetical confrontation between the Jesse Jackson of 1977 -who was an ardent spokesman for the rights of the unborn- and the Jesse Jackson of 1988, who had turned 180 degrees away from his prior beliefs in just over a decade. "Jackson of 1988," McCarthy wrote, "[said] abortion is acceptable because ''it is not right to impose private, religious and moral positions on public policy.'" But the 1977 Jackson would have responded, according to McCarthy, how he had previously written about those who justify legalized abortion based on privacy: "That was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence or treatment of slaves on the plantation because that was private and therefore outside your right to be concerned."

Perhaps the most timely example of this kind of hypocrisy comes from a letter written in 1971. It says, in part:

While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized -- the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old. (source)

The author of that letter, Senator Ted Kennedy, died this past week with ratings of 100% each in 2008 from NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood. Kennedy's salvation is certainly between him and God. I hope he, as a practicing Catholic, took the opportunity to make a good confession before he died, and be reconciled with God and his Church. But it breaks my heart to think about how this country could have been different if he had spent his 47 years in the Senate defending life, rather than worrying about what groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood thought of him.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In the air we breathe...

It's been a really busy couple of weeks, and the prospects for the next couple of weeks look just about the same way... so, I thought I'd take the chance while I had it to share a few thoughts.

A really good (non-Catholic) friend contacted me recently to ask whether I would find it offensive, as a Catholic, if she dressed her daughter as a nun for Halloween. If she happens to read this, I'd like to thank her for thinking of me, and especially for getting me thinking about it! (For the record, my response was basically that, as long as the costume wasn't designed in such a way as to intentionally demean nuns or the religious life, I didn't think any reasonable Catholics would have a problem with it; in fact, the daughter might find herself in the company of some Catholic children whose parents use Halloween and All Saints' Day as a chance to teach about the lives of the saints!)

The conversation reminded me of something I'd noticed while carrying mail around the town in which we live: many non-Catholics seem to be drawn toward Catholic images and ideas, even if it would never occur to them to investigate the faith itself. While my friend is definitely exceptional in lots of other ways, her interest in a nun's habit certainly isn't one of them when you consider all of the appearances by nuns in movies and television over the years. And it's not only nuns: just on the little mail route that I carry, I have noticed St. Francis statues in the yards of two non-Catholic customers, and a "Friar Tuck"-like monk in another. In fact, my non-Catholic customers with "Catholic lawn ornaments" (visible from where I deliver mail, at least) outnumber my Catholic customers with similar statues three to one!

I think Catholic imagery surrounds us to such an extent that we don't even think about it too much, but it's even more interesting to me that it occurs where we live because it hasn't traditionally been a heavily Catholic area. Several of the little towns around ours don't have a Catholic church, but almost certainly would if they were another couple of hours further east in the more densely Catholic areas of Kansas or Nebraska. In fact, I have met people in the area who remember crosses being burned in front of the homes of Catholics.

Reflecting on this brings to mind Christopher Stasheff and his various "light fantasy" novels (of which MM has now read 36, I believe, with me not too far behind!). His books generally take place in a more or less medieval setting one way or another - sometimes in an alternate universe, sometimes in the future on planets recovering from being cut off from "civilization," and so on - and are somewhat unique in the fantasy and science fiction genres in that they seriously consider the role religion (and, in particular, the Catholic Church) played in the day-to-day lives of the people of that era. Stasheff comments in at least one of the short biographies that appear in the back of the books that, as a fan of fantasy novels depicting the "swords-and-sorcery" era, it always struck him as odd that many writers tried to be historically accurate in so many areas while completely ignoring what would have been one of the most important to the characters described: religion. It permeated nearly every aspect of life, Stasheff points out, like the air around us.

When you think about it - and the nearly universal appeal of such Catholic figures as St. Francis and Mother Teresa (not to mention the "Hail Mary" pass) - maybe our culture's not so different, after all.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Quick Takes Friday

The Midwest Catholic Family Conference was awesome. I had such a great time this year, even with Charlotte being too young for the children's program. Lots of great speakers, and even more excitingly, I found out that Dr. Ray Gaurendi will be there next year (yeah!) So, I'm already planning on taking the girls next year. So, today, here are some conference pictures...first one of the girls this year, then a couple of the Tony Melendez concert (he asked for 6 or 7 people of any age to come up on stage and sing), then finally a picture of the girls at LAST year's conference, so that I can get teary eyed about how big they are getting...

Both myself and MIL had appointments up in the city this we were all over the metro area on Tuesday, and then found out shortly after getting back that SIL who lives in Denver is moving (needed to find a cheaper place to rent, and ended up deciding to get rid of her cats to open up more living options) so I think we are all going up on Sunday after church to help her move.

We'll be attending church in hubby's hometown this weekend to sell tickets for the Tony Melendez concert being held at our parish on August 29th. I think there should be quite a bit of interest, but the person in charge of all the tickets could only scrounge up 20 tickets for us to sell...if more people are interested, we'll have to take down names and if there are other tickets that come back from other parishes, then we'll be able to get them tickets. Ironically, it is looking like many people from our parish won't be able to get tickets. Some people have been saying that they'll just buy tickets at the door, but it looks like it will be a sell out before then!

Hubby and I bought tickets to begin with, but are thinking about giving ours away, since we just saw Tony Melendez at the conference in Wichita, and because we will be helping run the spaghetti supper ahead of time. Eva was so impressed with Tony Melendez, that I'm thinking we'll have MIL take the girls up to the concert on our tickets.

I recently ordered "The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh" off paperback had been on my wish list for about a year now, and I was very excited that it was even a hardback version. It came in the mail today...maybe with a little divine intervention. The person who sent it had wrapped it up in two priority mail envelopes, but sent it media mail (with stamps), there was no PVI label (the little printed thingy at the PO) which is required for all packages over 12 oz or something like that (it's a heavy book!), none of the stamps were canceled (until hubby canceled them for fun at work...) and we weren't charged postage due for the priority mail wrapping. Even more cool than the fact that it wasn't lost in the mail or that it didn't come with several dollars of postage due is the fact that it was a brand new book in wrapping! So, I'll be wrapping it in gift wrap to give Eva on her birthday!

Speaking of 30th is in three days...I don't know if I'm ready to turn 30 yet! I know I've been harassing hubby about being 30 and over for a long time now, and I'll no longer be able to starting Monday...then I'll have to wait until he turns 35, and point out that he is pushing 40...oh well!

My SIL (the one about to move) is also turning 30 soon...first week of September. MIL asked each of us individually what we would like to do for our birthdays...and we both answered with "can we just ignore that I'm turning 30?" MIL is not that easily persuaded, so we have been talking about different things...gambling wasn't too exciting, theatre would be okay, but I'm leaning towards spa day. So, I was bored and on the computer, so I thought I'd check out spa services and prices (I can't help but be cheap!), so I looked at Colorado spas, and then thought maybe I should look in the other I looked up Nebraska spas, and found one that has some good specials going on in Grand Island, NE...who knew there would even be a spa in Grand Island?

More quick takes as always at Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"It's the Post Office that's always having problems!"

Ok, first:

Isn't this exactly the argument that those who are opposed to the government running the health-care system (or even just part of it, a la the "public option" plan) use? I mean, I'm the first to point out that running the postal service is more complicated and difficult than most people imagine... but it's also not a matter of life and death, most of the time.

Secondly, speaking as a postal employee: thanks for the vote of confidence, man. That'll give morale a big shot in the arm; I just know it!

Update: Just a thought: I wonder how the two biggest unions for postal employees (the APWU and the NALC) - who both supported the Obama presidential run - feel about this. According to, they each spent over $1.3 million on "political activities and lobbying."

Update 2: My boss received an e-mail today with a couple of articles on this comment. The one from The Wall Street Journal was especially good, but I can't find an online version yet. Ed O'Keefe of The Washington Post ends with this remark: "Still ... to have the president poke fun at your financial situation in his first public comments about your agency? Yeah, not good."

Update 3: OK, here's the link to The Wall Street Journal's online commentary mentioned above, if anyone is interested (under the subheading "ObamaCare Goes Postal"). And now, looking at all of these updates, I think I've officially started beating the proverbial dead horse! Moving on...

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Since I'm going to miss my quick takes this week...

I figured I'd pop in with a few things!

The girls and I went to the Kit Carson County Fair this week with MIL. They have a wooden carousel, one of the last of its kind in the country (there are only around 150 left) and it is in beautiful condition. We spent much of the day riding it (it runs every half hour) while MIL judged cakes. The girls had a lot of fun. I didn't get any pictures in action, as I had to hold Charlotte on her horse, but I thought I'd share a couple of cute ones with you today.

Also, I've been canning away again. We ignored our bean plants for a couple of when I sent hubby out to pick them, he came in with an over half full 5 gallon bucket. So, we have 10 more pints of green beans for winter consumption.

Finally, this year I ordered an assortment of hot peppers from Gurney' we didn't know what we were getting until they produced fruit. At least two of the plants are alive and well, one has banana peppers, and other other has these...our guess is Thai chili peppers...but we don't really know, and I have no idea what to do with them! Any ideas or suggestions?

Well, better go finish cleaning so that we can get out of here and do our last county fair thing (volunteering at the beer garden) before heading to Wichita!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Delivering mail in a small town

Now that I've spent a day finally getting my county fair fix for the year (thank you to MM, who has far exceeded her county fair tolerance for the year, but was willing to endure a little more so I could enjoy the pork I helped with and check out the livestock), I feel a little more like talking about my day yesterday.

Not that it was necessarily that bad, although the lack of a full complement at the post office due to vacations and days off - compounded by me dropping a bunch of mail in the middle of the street and having to re-order it all - made it a little stressful; rather, it was just sort of surreal.

There are a lot of times when, while delivering mail, I'll see something fairly bizarre. Volunteer corn growing out of the rain gutters on people's roofs, for example, or just some of the things people leave out on their porches... But usually my role is just that of an observer, not someone involved in "the action." Yesterday, though, I was walking up to someone's mailbox when their crazy nutjob dog came tearing around the corner of the house, bearing down on me. I started waving that customer's mail around in the dog's face to keep its snapping jaws away from me, and I guess I must have yelled a little bit because the lady who lives in the house came out to see what was going on. As soon as she stepped out onto her porch, she shouted something and went sprinting into her house. The next thing I knew, she was running back out, firing probably eight or ten paintballs at the dog! I don't know if any of them hit the dog, but she was a good enough shot that he ran away (and I wasn't hit).

I was fairly steamed about the whole thing immediately afterward, mainly because this dog is an ongoing problem for me. By the time I told MM about it over the phone while she was on her way back from yet another fair, though, I could hardly stop laughing long enough to get the story out.

I guess I should just be thankful that I normally don't need to go inside people's houses for this job. When I used to appraise houses for the county assessor's office in the last town we lived in, I got to see the full glory of small-town freakiness (including, but not limited to, topless vacuuming). So, there's a "glass half-full" way of looking at things somewhere in there after all!