Saturday, June 28, 2008

A summary of the USCCB statement on embryonic stem cell research

A summary of the USCCB statement on embryonic stem cell research; These arguments are equally valid for abortion or euthanasia.

The Church teaches that direct attacks on human life are always wrong. The laws of our society are meant to protect human life. The aim of the medical sciences is to preserve and protect life.
However, some claim that in the case of research killing is acceptable [or they try to argue that it is not killing at all]. The Bishops respond to 3 justifications used to promote stem cell research:
The Marxist argument or the ends justify the means.
This is a false argument because evil never results in good only more evil.
“The same ethic that justifies taking some lives to help the patient with Parkinson’s disease today, can be used to sacrifice that very patient tomorrow.”
Recommended reading “1984”
The final solution argument or Ayn Rand would be proud.
This argument tries to sidestep the Marxist ethic by redefining human-ness based on power. It is not genetics that makes a person, rather it is power. Self determination and ability are what count. Where have all the post-modern social critics gone on this one?
“If fundamental rights such as the right to life are based on abilities or qualities that can appear or disappear, grow or diminish, and be greater or lesser in different human beings, then there are no inherent human rights, no true human equality, only privileges for the strong.”
Recommended reading “Atlas shrugged”
The take one for the team argument or don’t confuse me with the logic.
This argument is so absurd I can only conclude it was dreamed up by an east coast politician.
“Finally, some claim that scientists who kill embryos for their stem cells are not actually depriving anyone of life, because they are using “spare” or unwanted embryos who will die anyway. This argument is simply invalid. Ultimately each of us will die, but that gives no one a right to kill us.”
Recommended viewing “C-Span.”
The Bishops continue by observing that increased “need” for stem cells is leading to pressure to legitimize cloning. They then explain the Churches position that cloning is that is intrinsically evil;
1. Cloning is evil because it reduces human beings to commodities with market values.
2. The cloning process is a manufacturing process which shows disrespect for human life in the very act of generating it.
3. Cloned embryos are produced only to be destroyed
4. Congress has already prohibited fetus farming a process in which cloned embryos are placed in a woman’s womb for some weeks to harvest more useful tissues and organs.
Human beings are not tools for our progress to be used as long they benefit us then disposed of like a dead battery. That kind of thinking puts all of us at risk. The culture of death is hopelessly contradicted. In the case of stems cells and cloning they clamor for the right to artificially create life to destroy it. In the case of abortion they destroy life naturally created. In both cases the argument is that somehow by killing a baby this world will be a better place.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Golf Lesson

Okay, I am not a fan of golf. In fact, I am working on a theory that God punished Man with the sport as part of the whole Fall episode. But yesterday as I exercised my right as a dad during Father's Day weekend, I found myself (with my sons eventually joining me) mesmerized by Tiger Woods' feat during the U.S. Open, and cheering and high-fiving when he made both of his incredible eagle putts, one from about 70 ft and another from 20 ft. It was amazing, and inspiring, in a sports world sort of way.
What's this got to do with a Catholic blog? Well, we here in the United States have heard a lot lately from the U.S. Bishops and the Holy Father about social justice, especially when it comes to immigrants. Well enough.
But, as I consider why I don't get tired of hearing about Woods' success and domination of the sport, it strikes me that he represents this justice as well.
The sport of golf, at least in America, has a reputation of being, um, elitist. That's a generous term. After all, Woods won his first major in 1997, at the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club, an organization that did not allow black members in until 1990, and mandated black-only caddies until 1982 (NOT 1890 and 1882!) Oh yeah, and don't forget the subsequent remarks of fellow golfer Fuzzy Zoeller, who said of Woods (who as defending champ would select the next year's Champions Dinner menu):
"That little boy is driving well and he's putting well. He's doing everything it takes to win. So, you know what you guys do when he gets in here? You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not to serve fried chicken next year. Got it." Zoeller then smiled, snapped his fingers, and walked away before turning and adding, "or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve." Nice.
It must really gall Zoeller and the other historic racist dignitaries of golf, that Woods is only one quarter African-American. Both of Tiger's parents are racially mixed, so he is actually also one quarter Chinese, one quarter Thai, and an eighth each Native American and Dutch. Bobby Jones must be turning over in his grave watching the devolution of the old social order.
There are other examples, but you get the point. Now, Tiger Woods is not a paragon, and there are grave risks to idealizing or idolizing a sports figure. Woods has done very well for himself and I certainly don't pity him. Nevertheless, I do believe he can be considered a positive influence on tearing down the old barriers that, unfortunately, still exist in some parts of our society.
That's my kind of justice: social and poetic.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Phyllis Kahn Suggests Embryos Are Property

In a recent commentary piece in the Star Tribune, Minnesota State Representative Phyllis Kahn wrote the linked article below. It's about stem cell research-- in it she states that "owners" knowingly donate embryos for research, so it's okay. Please read her article, and the reply I sent to her via email. I haven't heard back from her so far.
A Fellow Scientist's Response To Your Article

Representative Kahn, I'd like to respectfully offer my reaction to your May 30 article in the ST, regarding stem cell research. I don't follow MN politics very closely; to be honest I had to look up your contact info online and have only read a little of your political background a few minutes ago. I suspect we won't agree on too much, including stem cell research issues. I probably won't be able to debate you very successfully on retroviruses and such; I don't have a PhD in Biophysics, but I do have a PhD in Chemistry so I'd like to think I'm no slouch when it comes to critical technical thinking... :)
I found your use of the term "owner" when referring to donated embryos to be breathtakingly inhumane. If embryos are "owned" by the parents, or I assume by a scientist once they are donated, when and under what circumstances would an embryo no longer be "owned?" What if in fact a particular embryo was implanted and allowed to become a fetus and finally delivered from the womb? Does the scientist still "own" the fully-formed child? Or perhaps the new "owner" is the woman into whose womb the embryo was implanted? When is this child no longer considered property? Considering only an embryo which you assume is "destined for destruction" is a convenient way to set aside these important questions, but a scientist such as yourself has to recognize the problematic logical issues this type of approach presents to us.
You're no doubt very busy and probably get a thousand protest emails a day (or more, perhaps?!) If you could only respond as a fellow scientist to the logic of thinking of embryos as property, I would appreciate your explanation and response. Thanks very much in advance for your time!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Buddy Christ

I used an image on a previous post of “Buddy Christ” that I’ve received a few comments (blog, email, in person) on. The image is from a movie that’s so offensive and blasphemous that I’m not going to give the name (not like figuring it out would be tough). There seems to be quite the market for Buddy Christ merchandise.

And though I’m sure I’ll need some form of absolution for it, I can’t resist including a clip from the movie involving the story behind “Buddy Christ” to illustrate an important point.

Trying to be relevant can quickly lead to being ridiculous if not done properly, with the right intentions, and in areas we have any business trying to be relevant in. Think of your grandma coming over wearing her favorite pair of phat pants or hip-huggers ... For those still in front of your computer reading, here’s the clip (nothing any more offensive than the phrase "What the Pfleger" in the clip):

A Catholicism WOW! campaign - a "renewal of both faith and of style". Ouch.

For example, the crucifix. While it has been a time honored symbol of our faith, Holy Mother Church has decided to retire this highly recognizable, yet wholly depressing image of our Lord crucified. Christ didn't come to Earth to give us the willies... He came to help us out. He was a booster. And it is with that take on our Lord in mind that we've come up with a new, more inspiring sigil. So it is with great pleasure that I present you with the first of many revamps the "Catholicism WOW! " campaign will unveil over the next year.

The reasoning is obviously ridiculous, yet is still seems somewhat familiar.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

What the Pfleger is this???

Folks, I'm not really sure what to say about the current situation regarding Father Michael Pfleger in Chicago. My immediate reaction to the infamous video clips that have been in the news and can be watched on the internet, was: "what a buffoon." As far as I can tell, the recent remarks about the Democratic campaign is really not all that unusual for him. Fr. Pfleger pals around with the likes of Jesse Jackson and Louis Farakan, notorious race-baiters. He is known as the "renegade priest" of Chicago for a number of reasons, not the least of which that he has adopted three children in defiance of his bishop.

On the other hand, I believe that evangelizing in a very tough inner city environment is not a job for the timid, and few of us would sign up for it, or could handle it. A quick tour thru the web site of St. Sabina indicates a lot of (needed) social outreach. That's a good thing.

There's also a lot of the black liberation type rhetoric throughout the site, and in the content of Fr. Pfleger's "sermons" that he has delivered at the "services." To deliberately steer clear of the most basic Catholic terminology strikes me as wrong somehow. It gets worse if you keep digging-- I invite readers to explore for themselves.

Granted, I don't know a great deal about this parish or the priest, and I certainly haven't had to share in their struggles. I just think the last thing the Church needs in America is a renegade priest who seems to have capitulated to the bombastic tactics of the most far-left conspiracy nuts in the African American community.