Friday, October 01, 2010

A bunch of long articles

Sometimes on the internet I read something that's informative, intelligent, interesting or otherwise engaging, and I want to post it on my blog and comment on it. But after collecting many such articles I must admit I'm very unlikely to get around to fisking them all. So here's a post where I just slap up a bunch of links, and if you're bored you can click one.

A typically wonderful recent speech by Archbishop Chaput: Living within the truth: Religious liberty and Catholic mission in the new order of the world

Some time ago, Jen did an internet fast and wrote out what she learned. I remember thinking I needed to take the time to re-read her article slowly and take it to heart.  But now I'm leaving for the convent in three weeks and I won't be able to use the internet there, so I guess that solves that problem. :)

Carolyn on why romantic comedies have the woman get drunk. I'd add that the same effect is achieved by making the woman sick, as in You've Got Mail, or sleepy, as in Kate and Leopold:

Here's an article proposing a far better health care reform plan than the one our Congressmen forced down our throats without even reading it themselves. The author writes, "I’m a Democrat, and have long been concerned about America’s lack of a health safety net. But based on my own work experience, I also believe that unless we fix the problems at the foundation of our health system—largely problems of incentives—our reforms won’t do much good, and may do harm."

The Intellectual Capacity of Women.
This article begins with the sentence, "I believe that the intellectual capacity of women is on the whole inferior to that of men." It's been a while since I read it, but at the time I couldn't think of a way to refute it, and anyway it didn't surprise me.  There's no reason to assume that two sexes with such different physical capacities would have the same intellectual capacity. That makes as much sense as assuming that men and women must be equally strong, or must both be able to bear children.

People are desperate to say that women are exactly equal to men in every way, except when they're better. I think it's because women are oppressed and patronized, and Lord knows that's horrible.  In China and India the sex ratio is becoming more and more skewed as mothers abort their unborn daughters to try for sons. Think they'd do that if they weren't oppressed? It's an awful injustice.

But I utterly reject any notion that we need to deny the truth and proclaim a lie in order to bring about a desired result. We want all people be treated with dignity, and the way to achieve that result is to teach that all people have inherent value that isn't tied to their intelligence, ability, appearance, performance, race, sex, age, etc., etc. Or as the Declaration of Independence put it: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights."  If human rights are granted not by God but by man, then man can take the rights away.

Update: I just thought of a possible refutation, and it's the research Larry Summers referenced that got him fired as president of Harvard: that men and women have a different distribution of intelligence, with women clustering more toward the middle and men grouping more at the high and low ends.  That would mean that the sector of brilliant inventors would contain more men than women, even though the average intelligence of men and women might be the same.  I don't know if that's the case; just throwing out that possibility.

I can't go on; this is supposed to be a short list of articles. :)

The Lost Tools of Learning-- Dorothy Sayers on education

Escape from Nihilism-- a college professor of philosophy gives a lucid account of how his mind changed.

Faith and Private Judgment, and Faith and Doubt: These are the two sermons by Cardinal Newman that convinced me it was time to call up the nearest Catholic church and tell them I wanted to join. It isn't that Newman tackles all the many issues on which Catholicism and Protestantism disagree. I'd already read plenty of stuff like that, and it may have been a necessary prerequisite to understanding Newman. But by the time I came across his writings, the question I was dealing with was: how much more research do I have to do and how certain do I need to be? Should I convert when I'm 85% sure, or when I feel comfortable in Catholic churches, or when I agree with 100% of the doctrines? And what if I change my mind later? Newman showed me I was a bit mistaken about the nature of the choice. And my goodness, he writes such beautiful English.

Faith and Private Judgment

Faith and Doubt

The Practice of the Presence of God. I first read this very short book when I was about 14 because a youth leader had recommended it to my older sister. I don't remember what I made of it then, except that I was left with an impression of someone praying to God while working in the kitchen, and the idea that God is always present and you can pray to Him all day. But I know that when I re-read it last year I was very affected. It was a lot like something I'd concluded God was telling me after the first eight-day Ignatian retreat I made. I need to read it again. Seriously, words to live by.

If you've ever wondered whether the Catholic Church has some recent very official statement about the blessed Virgin Mary, it's the 8th chapter of this document, Lumen Gentium:

I sometimes wonder (or worry) about people in extreme situations, how they cope and what they think. These next few articles are along those lines:

A mentally ill man who's often been homeless:

A young man tells of an awful childhood (including brutal sexual abuse, though mercifully he gives few details), his imprisonment for murder, and his hope for the future. (The "Gorden" he mentions has a blog by proxy here.)  PDF WARNING:

A man who found out soon after marriage that he and his wife were incompatible.

Here's a letter from a young nun who gave up everything to become the bride of Christ, and then was raped and had to leave her order to raise the child. It is a stunning letter. I could hardly believe that she could respond with so much faith. Of all the articles in this post, this is the one that moved me the most.

This is a woman who wanted a child but had an abortion when she found out the baby had chromosomal abnormalities. She writes about how the system of prenatal testing seemed biased toward pressuring her to abort her son. Why on earth don't we bias it the other way? I guess it's partly because a living baby with an unexpected abnormality is a liability for the prenatal doctor, but an aborted baby is the mother's responsibility alone-- she can't sue anyone for talking her into abortion. Doctors probably figure their malpractice premiums are high enough already.

Here's another mother who aborted a wanted pregnancy when the child turned out to have Down's syndrome. I was fascinated by her story. As she says, she's an atheist and there were no religious issues affecting her decision, but that didn't mean she didn't have an awful battle with herself both before and after.

Compare that with this article:
in which J. Budziszewski describes the ways conscience attacks when we've done something we know is wrong, but won't admit it. It's remarkable how closely Emma Loach's experience tracks with Budziszewski's description, from her compulsive donations to sick children's charities, to her new sense of closeness with the baby's father, to the very fact that she's laying her soul bare by writing the article.

Here's an excellent letter trying to contribute to "an honest public debate about abortion" by asking questions an abortion provider hasn't answered yet:

David Warren doesn't like the Catholics Come Home campaign...

Distrust in the U.S. media is at a record high... but I'm surprised it's not higher.

Okay, enough for now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ok, I just read that link by David Warren. What bitter person. The Catholics Come Home campaign is an effective tool that has had GREAT success.... and he is worried about peoples feelings. How will he measure the feelings of these stray Catholics when they are in hell because people did not risk hurting their feelings.