Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ramen Noodles

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
Did you hear about Rep. Gwen Moore's argument for continuing the funding of Planned Parenthood?

It boils down to Ramen noodles.

She makes the argument that abortion should be available because the quality of life of poor "un-planned children" is very low...not to mention how difficult it is on their mothers. Basically, they are better off dead.

The fallacy of this argument is so clear to those of us who approach the issue of abortion from a Culture of Life. But, what we often miss in the pro-life world is our own responsibility for the "quality of life" argument.

We use it too. We accept the premise and argue that the quality of that poor child's life is not bad, that living on Ramen noodles and mayonnaise sandwiches is not the end of the world, that if we look on the bright side we see that this child could have a happy life. We say "This child has a lot of potential, Who knows what they might do?!"

And, in that sense we are right. We do not know what God has planned for any child. We do not know what they might do with their life. We do not even know the joy that they have in life right now.

But, if we are to truly change our Culture of Death to a Culture of Life we need to make the right arguments. The quality (as opposed to the dignity or value) of any given life is subjective. Many people think their own life not worth living. Many people would judge another's life as not worth living.

Do you remember Terri Schiavo? The argument used to justify starving her to death was that she was in a "persistent vegetative state". It was said that, despite some evidence to the contrary, she could not hear or respond to external stimuli. Experts said she would never recover. The pro-life side said that we don't know this for sure...she just might wake up one day.

Well, both sides were making the wrong argument. Starving her was wrong, clearly wrong. But not because she might wake up someday. Not because she might be somehow experiencing life from her "vegetative state". It is not wrong because of her current or potential quality of life. These arguments are purely subjective.

Her life has value and dignity APART from her subjective experience of that life. She deserves to live even if we KNOW FOR A FACT she would never wake up.

We MUST base the discussion on objective truths.

Each and every human life has intrinsic and unparalleled value because every human life is created in the image and likeness of God. And the loss of any life at the hands of another human, whether through abortion, euthanasia, neglect, or murder, inflicts harm on the human race.

THIS is the argument we must make.

It is the essential value of that child-- that elderly woman--that disabled man--that comatose person--which requires a sincere gift of self from each of us. We are called, as members of the human race, to sit by the side of the Terri Schiavo's of the world and make sure they are fed, and kept warm and safe. We are called, as members of the human race, to welcome into the world every child, helping them to grow and achieve as much as is humanly possible.

To the extent that we refuse this call, the human soul is damaged. We harm the part of our being that makes us truly human--the image of God stamped on our soul---which gives us the ability to rise out of our own selfishness and lay down our life for another.

To accept the premise of the "quality of life" argument is to concede the point. In effect we say to those who would defend abortion "if you can prove to me that the quality of that child's life would be too low, then I must concede your right to end that life."

Lets stop conceding the point!

What do you think? 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hungry Birds

Two weeks ago we set up this bird feeder, and for a week NOT ONE BIRD came to visit. Then, I bought some new birdseed because the "bird expert" at the shop was so sure it was the cheap seed I bought at Target. And for another four days, NOT ONE BIRD came to the feeder. 
Then I moved it. 
And for the last week we have had a growing flock of birds of all kinds coming to the feeder. 

Don't let the picture fool you, he is just doing some final clean up after the 
First Annual Neighborhood Bird 24 hour SEED-FEST. 
If you look closely, you will see the evidence.... the feeder is empty. 
I filled it TO THE TOP (both sections fill up with seed) yesterday morning. 


We have had flocks of angry red-winged black birds, groups of finches, a pair of mild mannered mourning doves, and various other little black, white, and grey birds. I think I have seen a few robins too. Among the lot of them they ate every seed in the feeder and then cleaned up the mess they made on the ground. (Nice of them, huh?)

My google search this afternoon: "too many birds at the bird feeder". 

This led me to a site that has assured me that if I use certain types of seeds I can discourage the angry red-winged blackbirds and encourage the sweet little goldfinches and mild mannered mourning doves. 

We shall see. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Our Love Story

This is the story of me and Jim as I told it almost 10 years ago. It was written to the families and staff at the Spiritus Sanctus Academies in Ann Arbor Michigan where I worked when we met. The website SCOL is now called Ave Maria Singles.  


As many of you know, I am leaving at the end of this week for California where I will be married to Jim Kennedy on May 26 at St. Dominic’s parish in Benicia. Jim and I met this past summer on a wonderful website called Single Catholics On Line (SCOL). Though an unconventional way of meeting, our relationship has been the old fashioned sort, and, as many have apparently seen in my face, a source of great joy to me. I believe Jim is God’s gift to me and I look forward to our life together in California, where I will be near my family once again. Even so, I leave Spiritus Sanctus with great sorrow in my heart. I will miss the staff and families of SSA very much. It is impossible to replace such a wonderful community as this one! Before I leave, I wanted to share with you our story as it will be published in the Single Catholics magazine coming out this Spring.

At Last

I used to tell people that I have wanted to be married since I was three years old. In fact, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a wife and mother. Though I didn’t date much until college, I have had several semi-serious relationships. But, there was always something that just didn’t seem right. Often I didn’t see it until later, but it was there. I know God was preserving me from making a mistake by letting the man see it first in some cases.

I had the blessing of sharing this struggle with my brother. He and I are close in age and had been longing for marriage for a long time. We would encourage each other and lament together. Mike has a theory about dating. He figures that if you are really serious about marriage you ought to “cross-train”—in other words, explore as many options for meeting good Catholics as are available to you. Single Catholics was to be one of those options for me. Though I had been living with strong Catholic community around me for several years, so far I hadn’t met “the one”, if such a one in fact existed. So, in January of 1999, I joined SCOL.

In August of 2000 I had been on SCOL for a year and a half and I was beginning to lose interest (and hope). I seldom wrote to people, I just felt like the man should pursue. And the few times I wrote to someone, it didn’t develop into anything. I would occasionally search the new faces, but nothing would really come of it. Then, one day I searched with some different categories, and I found Jim. At first glance, his profile wasn’t exactly what I thought I was looking for (I had become a “profile snob”, if you didn’t have the right movie or music down, I wrote you off). But, something about him attracted me. He seemed like a regular guy, but also an intellectual. I asked a friend to look at the profile and see what she thought. She said “Write to him! He says he sees nothing wrong with having a beer in one hand and an encyclical in the other. That sounds like great balance and just what you want!”

But, I still had my objection to writing to someone. I thought “Maybe he would write to me. It never works when I write to them.” Then, the obvious hit me like a brick. It never works when THEY write to me either, at least it hasn’t yet. I figured “Why not write?”

So, I wrote, thinking nothing would happen with this one, after all, it never has. But, lo and behold, he wrote back. Our original e-mails were a bit intellectual, we just talked about the Faith (a good topic of discussion! But I wanted more). Then, he asked me about baseball, and we began to have fun.

Pretty soon, he was suggesting that we talk on the phone. From the first moment I heard his voice I liked him. We talked comfortably and easily for three hours that day. Many long conversations followed until he suggested we meet. We were planning to go to a baseball game and discuss the evils of contraception, but the season ended too soon for our schedules. So, we settled for a weekend hanging around my town.

The first meeting was a very unique experience. By that time we had become friends over the phone, sharing a level of intimacy that allowed him to just say “Hi” when I answered the phone, rather than telling me who he was. However, I had only seen that one picture of him. Though I recognized him easily when he got off the plane, he was a virtual stranger. The face, the mannerisms, the expressions were all new. Though the voice was the same, the guy on the phone and the guy in front of me were not quite one in my head yet. As one friend put it, I felt as if I were cheating on the “phone guy”. Slowly but surely the two men, the phone guy and the one in front of me, merged into one person-Jim.

That first weekend was great! We spent time alone and time with friends. We walked and talked, drove and talked, sat and talked and ate and talked. By the time we went to the airport on Sunday, I was thinking “this just might be IT this time”. We were very open about the fact that this whole meeting was about determining if we were meant to be husband and wife. The e-mails and phone calls had told us that we had a good friendship foundation and communicated well with each other. That first meeting told us we were attracted to each other and that the friendship was just as good in person as it was over the phone. Now, we only needed to get in some good time together and see if we could make a marriage out of this.

It sounds so calculated, but it was really a lot of fun. We were excited to see each other again and planned three visits in the month of November, one of which was six days long! We figured if we were still excited to be with each other after that month, it would tell us a lot. Well needless to say, the month of November was wonderful. The only bad part was saying good-bye at the airport. We both began to long for the days when we wouldn’t have to leave each other at airports.

I don’t know when exactly it happened, whether it was the weekend in California, or the trip to Chicago, but somewhere along the line “if we get married” became “when we get married”. It was then that we knew he needed to meet and get to know my family. He knew I couldn’t say “yes” without my father’s blessing. I know and trust my parents’ judgment. I wanted the security of knowing that they saw the same wonderful things in Jim that I did. And I wanted them to be comfortable with me marrying this man that I met on the Internet and have only known for a few months.

Jim spent Christmas with my family in California and had a good old-fashioned “what are your intentions” talk with my father. He was also able to ask my father’s permission to marry me. It was happily granted as my father and mother saw Jim as I hoped they would.

At last…one hundred and thirty one days after that first e-mail, on the Feast of the Holy Family, at the Shrine of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Santa Clara, Jim asked me to be his wife. I accepted with joy. Though the distance remains a cross for both of us, it is certainly one worth bearing. I can’t imagine the rest of my life without Jim, and he feels exactly the same way. We only wish we could have met 15 years ago…by now we could have ten children!
 I can't believe that we will be married 10 years in May! Time has just flown by. We are blessed beyond belief. God has give us six souls in heaven and three here on earth. He has provided us health, and home, and friends and family. And, most of all, He has given us each other. 
Happy Valentine's Day to the Love of my Life and my best friend!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Good books never really end.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that my friend over at New Poor Zone did a review of The Lonesome Gods which inspired me to pick it up again. Go read hers words too!

The problem with nearing the end of a good book is that you are driven to keep reading.  Yet, sometimes you dread for the story to be over. I guess this only happens when the book is uplifting, edifying in some way. This book is. It tells the story of a young boy who loses his only remaining parent, his beloved father, on a wagon trip to California. The father is killed by his maternal grandfather's henchman who then plot to leave the boy to die in the desert. But they underestimate him. He survives and grows into a strong, virtuous, educated man who must face these enemies again. He is self educated, learning by reading, listening, watching. So much of the story led me to ponder how to educate my kids, and how to raise a man.

This is the cover on my copy...I love the parasol looks like a 70's made for TV movie.
I first encountered Louis L'Amour in college. I found a book on a sale table at the Cal State Long Beach Student Bookstore. I judged it by it's cover and threw it on the stack of things I was buying. Then, I read it in a day. It was called "Last of the Breed" and it was the first of many Louis L'Amour books that I would read in a day. After being hooked I joined one of those book clubs that you find in the back of magazines. Each month I got my new leather bound copy with Louis L'Amour written in gold on the binding. I can remember the little leap of joy I felt when I saw the cardboard container on my front porch. And often, the book was finished before I finally turned my lights out that night (usually far too late in the night!).

These books helped me define what a real man was. And how a woman should be treated. Louis L'Amour's heroes were always striving for virtue, though they weren't perfect. They respected women, loved their country, and fought to do the right thing no matter how difficult.

As you can tell. I am a fan. I highly recommend reading at least one Louis L'Amour. Not all his books were westerns, in fact, one of my favorites is the tale of a 12 century warrior. And many are kid friendly books. D is listening to two of them on tape. He has War Party practically memorized by now!

And about my dilemma....keep reading and face the end of the book...the good news is that you can always read the book again 20 years later. This is my third time tackling my Louis L'Amour collection. I think I will read this one next.

UPDATE: Here is one of the great quotes from The Lonesome Gods that made me ponder education:
"My friend," he said, "I do not know what else I shall leave my son, but if I have left him a love of language, of literature, a taste for Homer, for the poets, the people who have told our story - and by 'our' I mean the story of mankind - then he will have legacy enough." . . . The Lonesome Gods

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

WWJE--What Would Jesus Eat?

We had just come down to the family room from the bedtime festivities, and I hear the familiar cry from upstairs. Four year old A. is upset.

Me: What's up Sweet-Pea?

A: (in a very sad, crying voice) I forgot to brush my teeth and I have to go potty!

Me: Oh, well lets take care of that.

In my head: This should be easy enough.

A: (back in bed) Why don't you read me two stories?

Me: Ummm...what do you mean? Are you talking about the Winnie the Pooh story on the ipod?

A: Yes, why isn't Tigger in the story?

Me: Ummm...I don't know. Maybe Tigger wasn't....

A: (apparently no longer worried about me reading to her OR Tigger) Why doesn't Jesus eat spaghetti?

Me: Well, maybe He does. How do you know He doesn't?

A: He doesn't! I know. I've watched it all. And He doesn't eat sandwiches either! Why doesn't Jesus eat spaghetti OR sandwiches.

Me: (wondering what sort of visions she is having) You watched it all?

A: Yes, I saw all the Stories of the Bible and He didn't eat ANY spaghetti or sandwiches!!

How do you answer that??

Only a change of subject would satisfy that question.