Tuesday, February 7, 2012

'No constitutional rights', full stop…

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WH: Signatures to Rescind HHS Contraceptive Mandate Exceed Those on Petition in Favor of Policy 5 to 1
By Edwin Mora
February 6, 2012

That petition, which was created on Jan. 28, notes that HHS “is mandating that all employer healthcare insurance plans provide coverage for procedures which violate the beliefs of the Catholic Church, and Catholic institutions.” …

HHS will begin enforcing the policy in August and has given religious organizations an extra year to implement the mandate.

Despite concerns by the Catholic community including over 100 bishops and leaders of other denominations, the White House last week said that there is: ‘no constitutional rights issues’ surrounding the mandate.

Freshman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a Catholic, has introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which will overturn the HHS mandate.

Stop the Birth Control Mandate…

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Stop the Birth Control Mandate - A Petition Sponsored by St. Gianna Physician's Guild

I wholeheartedly express my solidarity with the Stop The Birth Control Mandate petition promoted by St. Gianna Physician's Guild protesting the recent decree by the Department of Health and Human Services of our federal government. I encourage Catholics to sign the petition and thus unite their support of Holy Mother Church by protesting the most grievous violation of the right to religious liberty for Catholics in the United States.
Raymond Cardinal Burke

–– Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura

As Mark Shea would say, "Episcopal Spine Alert!"

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Updated: *168* Bishops (More Than 90% of Dioceses) Have Spoken Out Against Obama/HHS Mandate

SPECIAL MENTION: “The Assembly of Orthodox Bishops in North America just issued a formal statement of protest against the HHS mandate in which the Assembly, representing all 53 Orthodox bishops in North America, references their complete agreement with the statements of the USCCB.”…

NOTE: If you would like a statement by an Eastern Rite bishop to be included please send [Tom Peters] the link/document or post it in the comments! Thank you. I’m trying to provide documentation for all the bishops listed and Eastern Rite bishops have been harder for me to track down. Thank you for understanding!

UPDATE: Of the 183 dioceses (by my count) in the U.S. who have a bishop currently serving as its head, 167 of them have issued statements. So more than 90% of bishops who head dioceses have spoken out against the Obama/HHS mandate.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The big antlers serve the good of the species by enhancing reproductive success...

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The core of Frank's thesis is that unmitigated self-interest does not, according to Darwinian awareness, produce the larger, collective, common good.

Money is only forty years old, and having a mid-life crisis....

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A spledind lecture, a solid historical precis. I found 16:00 onwards for a little while most intriguing, since, yes, "distributed" commerce is mentioned.

For some, the lecturer's accent may make the lecture...

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For others, less aesthetically gifted, the content will have to stand on its own.

The upshot is that, unless ethics suffuse economics, the idol of economic efficiency will effectively censor (and reconstruct) people by giving them over to their own insular, most efficiently satisfied impulses.

Note the parallels he draws between education and industrialization...

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Friday, February 3, 2012

A conversation I recently had at work…

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There I was, minding my own business, finishing yet another reading of the epistle of James, waiting for the students to arrive, when suddenly my co-worker blurted out, "The Bible?"

"Yes," I said, "that old thing."

"Have you read the whole thing?"


Unlike you, I'd wager.

"Why are you reading it? Just to… re-fresh… your… or…?"

"Yes, I'm one of those. I'm a Catholic."

"Still? Oh."

"I wasn't always Catholic. I was raised Presbyterian, but about five years ago, I entered the Church. I take it you are… interested in the Bible?"

By interested, of course, I mean titillated by your own sophomoric disdain for anything older or bigger than you.

"You mean the official Bible, or the ones that were repressed?"

"Ah, yes, I'm familiar with what you mean, but no, I'm reading the orthodox Bible, not the Gospel or Judas or Thomas or anything like that. Do you study religious history?"

As in, do you imbibe as much of the Huffington Post and Youtube clips as your leisure affords?

"Well, I was into history and soash at uni, so… yeah."


"So, you like religious history?"

"I like… facts. I mean, not that there are any."

Well, that's a relief. Here I thought you were challenging my faith based on damning facts about the Bible. Good thing there are no facts with which I must contend, aside, I suppose, from the fact of your visceral loathing for Christian tradition and the very idea of truth.

"Ahh. Okay. Right."

"I'm interested in how society… how social ideas can… influence or shape people's actions. Like Scientology, wow! I saw this amazing documentary on BBC last night about Scientology."

Sweet lamb, if only you realized how the "social determinist" argument cuts both ways. If you turn your read, just so, in just the right light, I can only faintly detect the thread of silver running from Dawkins' blog to the ring in your nose.

"Oh, BBC, they're pretty good."

"Yeah, but, well, everybody's got a bias."

Fortunately, everyone but you, right?

"What are you gonna do?"

"I try not to think about it all. I just want to be happy."


Books I've read in the last six months or so…

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As you may know, I keep a running tab on my "mental diet" (books and movies), but decided to share my latest explorations. Has anyone here read any of these books and have any opinions to offer?

If you visit my log, you'll notice I'm still (still!) reading a few other books, which means I've been reading about two books a week lately, so, roughly (in theory), I read 300 books last year. Here's to another 300 this year! The interesting thing is, that's more than twice as much as I used to read in high school and college per annum. If only I could get back to writing as much as I used to then, as well.

Schopenhauer: A Very Short Introduction (2002) by Christopher Janaway
An Introduction to Philosophical Logic (1982; 1st ed.) by A. C. Grayling
Self, Logic, and Figurative Thinking (2009) by Harwood Fisher
The Development of Logic (1962) by William Kneale & Martha Kneale
Thomas Aquinas: Selected Writings (1998) (ed.) Ralph McInerny
• God Is a Bullet by Boston Teran
The Blue Hour by T. Jefferson Parker
Under the Dome by Stephen King
Duma Key by Stephen King
The Dead Zone by Stephen King
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
The Terror by Dan Simmons
The Talisman by Stephen King & Peter Straub
Point Omega by Don DeLillo
Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon
The Nature of the Mind by Peter Carruthers
Personal Identity by Harold Noonan
Theory and Truth by Lawrence Sklar
Philosophical Logic by John P. Burgess
Philosophy of Logic by W.V.O. Quine
From a Logical Point of View by W.V.O. Quine
Everywhere and Everywhen by Nick Huggett
Thinking about Physics by Roger G. Newton
Real Essentialism by David Oderberg
Why Marx Was Right (2011) by Terry Eagleton
Logic (1985) by Juan Jose Sanguineti
Nominalism and Realism – Volume 1 of Universals and Scientific Realism (1980) by D. M. Armstrong
A Theory of Universals – Volume 2 of Universals and Scientific Realism (1980) by D. M. Armstrong
Couplehood by Paul Reiser
What Matters? Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth by Wendell Berry
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism by Robert P. Murphy, Ph.D.
Toward a Truly Free Market: A Distributist Perspective on the Role of Government, Taxes, Health Care, Deficits, and More (2010) by John M. Médaille
Leibniz's Mill: A Challenge to Materialism (2011) by Charles Landesman
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism by Kevin D. Williamson
In Defence of Global Capitalism (2001) by Johan Norberg
The "Poisoned Spring" of Economic Libertarianism –– Menger, Mises, Hayek, Rothbard: A Critique from Catholic Social Teaching of the 'Austrian School' of Economics (2011) by Angus Sibley
Micro (2012) by Michael Crichton w/ Richard Preston
The Case for Working with Your Hands, Or Why Office Work Is Bad for Us and Fixing Things Feels Good (2010) by Stephen Crawford
The Conscience of a Liberal (2009) by Paul Krugman
Free Lunch: Easily Digestible Economics, Served on a Plate (2003) by David Smith
The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else (2000) by Hernando de Soto
Why Most Things Fail: Evolution, Extinction & Economics (2005) by Paul Ormerod
What's Wrong with the World (1910) by G.K. Chesterton
The Servile State (1912) by Hilaire Belloc
The Sun of Justice: An Essay on the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church (1938) by Harold Robbins
The Persistence of the Old Regime: Europe to the Great War ([1981] 2010 2nd ed.) by Arno J. Mayer

Thursday, February 2, 2012

We can't strike out on this one…

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Conscience Protection

Bishops Vow to Fight Coercive HHS Mandate

Watch his video
take action today!

Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices.

Send an e-mail through NCHLA’s Grassroots Action Center at: HERE.

Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB, sharply criticized the decision by the Obama administration in which it "ordered almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans.... Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn't happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights."

The language of liberty…

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Consistory Hall
Thursday, 19 January 2012

Dear Brother Bishops,

… One of the most memorable aspects of my Pastoral Visit to the United States was the opportunity it afforded me to reflect on America’s historical experience of religious freedom, and specifically the relationship between religion and culture. At the heart of every culture, whether perceived or not, is a consensus about the nature of reality and the moral good, and thus about the conditions for human flourishing. In America, that consensus, as enshrined in your nation’s founding documents, was grounded in a worldview shaped not only by faith but a commitment to certain ethical principles deriving from nature and nature’s God. Today that consensus has eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such.

… To the extent that some current cultural trends contain elements that would curtail the proclamation of [Christian] truths, whether constricting it within the limits of a merely scientific rationality, or suppressing it in the name of political power or majority rule, they represent a threat not just to Christian faith, but also to humanity itself and to the deepest truth about our being and ultimate vocation, our relationship to God. …

[T]he Church has a critical role to play in countering cultural currents which, on the basis of an extreme individualism, seek to promote notions of freedom detached from moral truth. … The Church’s defense of a moral reasoning based on the natural law is grounded on her conviction that this law is not a threat to our freedom, but rather a “language” which enables us to understand ourselves and the truth of our being, and so to shape a more just and humane world. …

The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation.

… [I]t is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. … Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. …

… The preparation of committed lay leaders and the presentation of a convincing articulation of the Christian vision of man and society remain a primary task of the Church in your country; as essential components of the new evangelization, these concerns must shape the vision and goals of catechetical programs at every level.

[R]espect for the just autonomy of the secular sphere must also take into consideration the truth that there is no realm of worldly affairs which can be withdrawn from the Creator and his dominion (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 36). There can be no doubt that a more consistent witness on the part of America’s Catholics to their deepest convictions would make a major contribution to the renewal of society as a whole.

Freedom, schmeedom…

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U.S. Bishops Vow to Fight HHS Edict

January 20, 2012

The Catholic bishops of the United States called “literally unconscionable” a decision by the Obama Administration to continue to demand that sterilization, abortifacients and contraception be included in virtually all health plans. Today's announcement means that this mandate and its very narrow exemption will not change at all; instead there will only be a delay in enforcement against some employers.

“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The cardinal-designate continued, “To force American citizens to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom. Historically this represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty. … The government should not force Americans to act as if pregnancy is a disease to be prevented at all costs….”

“This is nothing less than a direct attack on religion and First Amendment rights,” said Franciscan Sister Jane Marie Klein, chairperson of the board at Franciscan Alliance, Inc., a system of 13 Catholic hospitals. …

Daughter of Charity Sister Carol Keehan, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, voiced disappointment with the decision[:] … “This was a missed opportunity to be clear on appropriate conscience protection….”

Pay up…

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Get ready to pay. …

Secretary of Health and Human Services and pro-abortion Catholic Kathleen Sebelius [has] announced that the proposed mandate requiring all insurance plans to pay for contraception, sterilization and some abortion drugs is official -- and Catholics cannot escape….

Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan responded…: “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”

Beginning August 1, 2012…, the insurance premiums we pay, including the insurance premiums paid by Catholics for employees of churches and schools … will be used to cover drugs and procedures that are in direct conflict with the teachings of our Church. … Our government will now force us to pay for insurance coverage for birth control, sterilization and even some abortion drugs. …

Make no mistake, this decision is a direct attack on you, our Church, and the religious liberty of all Americans.

… Pope Benedict XVI addressed the bishops from the United States who were completing their "Ad Limina" visit in Rome. The Holy Father specifically cited the "grave threats" to the freedom of the Church in America, and urged the Catholic community to respond, especially with "an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity." …

[In twelve] months, America will welcome a new president, or usher in four more years of Barack Obama and his assault on our liberties. This irony is not lost on us. … The Catholic vote must rise up like never before.


Brian Burch, President