Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Family First

I was reading a guest post from one of my favorite bloggers, Brent Stubbs, on Ignitum Today, a Catholic blog. I've been working on packing up my apartment which is something I really don't want to do right now.  Therefore, when I saw related links, of course I wanted to spend a little more time on the internet.

My clicking brought me to the Ignitum Today "dating" topic and, since this topic is relevant to my life, I read on.  As I was following my clicks further and further down the rabbit hole I noticed something interesting.  There are a lot of single people out there who feel lost in their singleness.  They are excited about marriage and family and/or they're excited about joining a religious community, but nothing seems to be happening to lead them down the road.  Instead they're stuck in between and they don't know what to do with themselves.  This is both comforting and sad.  Comforting because I often have felt this way too, sad because, well, feeling lost is sad.

I had an interesting realization while I was reading today.  One blogger was talking about putting family first (after God of course), but without a husband and children, she felt at a loss.  I don't have a husband or children, but I still have a family.  I have brothers and parents and grandmothers and uncles and aunts and cousins.  That's a lot of family even without me finding a mate and forming a new nuclear family.  I also have a tendency to "adopt" family members wherever I go and think of my relationship to them in those terms.

So, in conclusion, all of those little baby crafts on Pinterest are great.  I'm excited, but that all seems to be in the fuzzy future.  I can't even tell if it's in the near or distant future.  But the point is, I don't need to wait until I have babies to make my family a priority in my life.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How to Search for Truth

An article was featured in my university's newspaper this morning about a woman who converted to paganism in a quest for the truth.  You can read the original article here: "Woman Converts to Witchcraft in Search of Answers"

I have a couple of observations before I get into the meat of this blog post.  First, I dislike the title.  It is sensationalist and misrepresents the article in order to make it seem more scandalous.  Second, I think Xaos Giovanni is very brave to allow this article to be written about her.  No doubt there will be a few people who try to evangelize her because of this.  From what I read about her, she welcomes these conversations as an opportunity to have an authentic dialogue about faith.  I admire her boldness.

Giovanni's example reminded me of something I often hear as a Catholic convert.  Usually when my choice comes up in conversation, the other person will say something along the lines of, "Well, if Catholicism works for you, then good for you." 

This sentiment shows a very wrong understanding of what it means to search for truth, and I believe every human being is called to search for truth.  This search is not about finding what works for you or what is convenient.  It is about finding what is true.  I can't think of any other way to say that.

The Truth (with a capital T) is by it's very nature inconvenient.  Searching for Truth has caused me to join a new community (and I'm a shy person); it causes me to devote hours of my time to prayer and worship; it causes me to love people I'd rather avoid; it causes me to write this blog post when I'd rather be eating lunch.  My sacrifices are tiny.  The search for the Truth has led people to live and it has led people to die.

I think the search is worth the cost.  Maybe I think that because I haven't been called to any great sacrifices.  However, whether it is worth it or not is not even a relevant question.  We do not get to decide what is real and what isn't.

So, Catholicism is inconvenient, but it is the most true thing I have yet to find.  I don't know Giovanni's heart, but someday I hope to meet her in Heaven and I hope that we can both say to each other, "I did my best to seek God and love others, and only by His Grace we made it."

Friday, April 6, 2012

An outstretched hand to homosexual Christians

I expect to get a lot of dissenting comments on this post.  I especially expect to get a lot of comments saying that I don't understand.  I don't, at least not fully.  I am attracted to people of the opposite sex (which has come with problems of its own, believe me).  Please know that I am attempting to write this with the utmost charity and that there are many people who I love very much who have identified themselves as homosexual.  I'm sure there are many more who have not chosen to open up to me in this way.

I recently read an article posted by a friend: "I'm a Christian Unless You're Gay".  There was also a blog recently started by a young man at my university to combat the anti-gay culture here: The Voice of a Baylor Gay.

Both of these men bring up great points.  The most important one is that, as Christians we should love others as Christ loved us.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  Our call to love others does not stop when we encounter someone who is different, counter-cultural, or sinning.  If we really examined our hearts, then we too should walk away like the pharisees did when Jesus said that he who is without sin can throw the first stone at the woman.

That being said, I do believe that choosing to have sex with someone of the same sex is a sin.

Before you start to write your comment, please notice that my definition of this particular sin is very strict and narrow.  I'm not sure if my view is orthodox or not, so I would encourage readers to do further research.

The Biblical proof texts (I hate proof texts because they can be so easily taken out of context) against homosexuality are found in Leviticus 20:13 "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.  They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads." (NIV) (this is part of a list of laws concerning sexuality, also listed here are laws about bestiality, incest, pedophilia, adultery, and rape) and also in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."  (NIV) I'm sure anyone who is interested enough in this blog post to read this far has had one or both of these verses quoted at them at some point.

The thing which jumps out the most to me in those verses is that it does not say that those who are sexually attracted to others of the same sex are in sin, it does not even say that those who are in love with someone of the same sex are in sin.  However it does very clearly point out that choosing to have sex with someone of the same sex is a sin.  "Homosexual offenders" have committed sin, homosexuals have not (at least not for being homosexual).

That being said, there is a particular sin which we are all susceptible to, which is lust, or the sexual objectification of another (of any sex).  Sexual fantasies, pornography, even rude comments, looking on another person as a possible object of sexual gratification.  All of our stones should drop to the ground.  This deserves a post of its own.

So, what to do.  I don't know.  Again, I'd like to, like Jesus, propose love.  But I'd also like to make one more point.  Adulterers, divorcees, fornicators, all pass though our chapels.  We all struggle with lust in some way.  Most people go unnoticed.  Homosexual offenders have committed sin, yes, but so have these others. None of them should be excluded.  We need to talk about this, we need to hold each other accountable.  I'm not saying the Church should relax her teachings because they make some people uncomfortable, but our ultimate calling is love.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Guest Response to "10 Reasons The Rest Of The World Thinks The U.S. Is Nuts" by Soraya Chemaly

So, I didn't mean for this blog to be all about the abortion debate; I may write about something else eventually. However, the abortion debate is vitally important, highly emotional, and trending in the news because of recent events.  Therefore, there is a lot to say and respond to.  

A friend of mine, Hannah Boggeln, recently wrote a response to an article which fits very well into this site's format and she was kind enough to let me share it:

I have quite a few critiques of this article, am interested in others' opinions, am would appreciate any responses given in a charitable manner. Here it the article: "10 Reasons The Rest Of The World Thinks The U.S. Is Nuts"

Please read the actual Georgia bill (HB 954) to which Ms. Chemaly refers: HB 954

I completely agree that women should NEVER be compared to cows or pigs. I completely agree that Mr. England spoke out of line. I completely agree that he cannot empathize with mothers in their motherhood. But I refuse to accept the argument that the bill he is supporting should not be passed because he is not a woman or a mother. People of all races get to vote in laws concerning minorities. And although I am not a mother, I am a woman and I support this bill and I know many mothers who would as well. So please don’t act like this is a bill supported my men who only want to dominate and torture women.
"The fetus is me." Ummm no. The fetus is the baby. It has its own DNA.

“1. Making women carry still-born fetuses to full term because cows and pigs do.” This bill, however, actually states: “The term "abortion" shall not include the use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or device employed solely … to remove a dead unborn child who died as the result of a spontaneous abortion.” I think Ms. Chemaly is misinformed.

“2. Consigning women to death to save a fetus.” The bill states: “No abortion is authorized or shall be performed … unless the physician and two consulting physicians certify that in reasonable medical judgment the abortion is necessary in their best clinical judgment to preserve the life or health of the woman to … Avert the death of the pregnant woman or avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”

“3. Criminalizing pregnancy and miscarriages and arresting, imprisoning and charging women who miscarry with murder.” Firstly, who is talking about criminalizing pregnancy??? Secondly, the bill did not define miscarriage, but it is my understanding that there is a difference between miscarriage and abortion. Miscarriage the natural death of the baby in the womb. Abortion is the intentional killing of said baby. Killing unjustly, yes, is “murder.”

“4. Forcing women to undergo involuntary vaginal penetration (otherwise called rape)…” Agreed. I am not in favor of this. But am in favor of required ultrasounds. We need to be informed. Even medical companies selling seasonal allergy medicine are required to tell us of side effects of said medicine. It wouldn’t hurt for us to see the fetus we are trying to kill.

“5. Disabling women or sacrificing their lives by either withholding medical treatment or forcing women to undergo involuntary medical procedures.” See responses to #2 and #4.

“6. Giving zygotes "personhood" rights while systematically stripping women of their fundamental rights.” If a zygote is not a human person because it is not human, what kind of person is it? If a zygote is not a human person because it is not a person, what is it? It has it’s own DNA. It is it’s own individual. And what fundamental rights are we women being stripped of exactly? The right to kill someone else because I don’t want him or her to exist?

"…the danger of personhood ideas creeping into health policy…" So focusing on the person is …. Bad? And building policy that protects the person is … dangerous? Tell me, if laws aren’t made to protect the person and his rights… what are they made for?

“7. Inhibiting, humiliating and punishing women for their choices to have an abortion for any reason by levying taxes specifically on abortion, including abortions sought by rape victims to end their involuntary insemination, imposing restrictive requirements like 24 hour wait periods and empowering doctors to lie to female patients about their fetuses in order to avoid prosecution.” Paying taxes on abortions is the least of your problems. You pay taxes on cigarettes because, let’s face it, they’re bad for you. But you’re complaining that you have to pay a special tax to commit murder? That your attempted murder is being “[Inhibited]”? And if by humiliation you are referring to pregnant mothers in general seeking abortions I don’t understand. If you are talking about women who have been raped, I see your point. But abortions committed by rape victims are still abortions. Extra extra sensitivity must be paid in these cases, but killing the child will not heal the mother. What is your objection to 24 hour wait periods? I absolutely agree that doctors cannot be permitted to lie to their patients. But the text of the bill does not say that. It says: “A person is not liable for damages in any civil action for wrongful birth based on a claim that, but for an act or omission of the defendant, a child or children would not or should not have been born. … [allowing suits brought] for damages for an intentional or grossly negligent act or omission.“ Lying to your patient sounds to me like an intentional omission.

“8. Allowing employers to delve into women's private lives and only pay for insurance when they agree, for religious reasons, with how she choses to use birth control.” This could also be restated to say: Allowing employers to refuse to support the choices of others which they consider to be immoral. Yes, I support that right of employers.

"who support "personhood" related "pro-life" legislation and are fighting for their "religious liberty"" So “personhood,” “pro-life,” and “religious liberty” are the bad guys….?

 “9. Sacrificing women's overall health and the well-being of their families in order to stop them from exercising their fundamental human right to control their own bodies and reproduction.” Let’s return to #2. You’ve re-read it? Ok. You are not just “controlling your body” when you have an abortion. You are taking a life. You may of course control your reproduction! It’s simple: don’t have sex when you are fertile! There is a connection, you know, between sex and babies.

“10. Depriving women of their ability to earn a living and support themselves and their families.” This bill is not “depriving women of their ability to earn a living and support themselves and their families.” It is saying that employers will not be forced to go against their consciences and that women who lie, cheat, and steal causing them to do so can be fired. If my employees were lying to me, I would want to have the right to fire them. I agree that medical records are private, but I also don’t see another way to cover the contraceptives while not forcing employers to go against their conscience, but would love to hear suggestions. Regarding the second link, it is wrong to fire a woman because she is pregnant. But nowhere does this bill even hint at that, so the second link, while being very true, has nothing to do with this.

"This is about sex and property, not life and morality." FYI: (1) scientists have discovered that there is a link between sex and life!; (2) people aren’t property; they’re people; (3) I don’t get how this could not have to do with morality? Your arguments are morality-based! (“the moral legitimacy”; “What you are doing is … morally corrupt.”)

"I think that it is stupid, dangerous and immoral to chain smoke, especially around children whose lungs it irreparably harms. But, I still have to pay for an employee to have access to lung scans, nicotine patches and oxygen tanks." This is a fallacious argument. The equivalent would be paying for an employee's cigarettes.

"These laws are not about "personhood" but "humanity."" So you’re against humanity?

“That women of color are massively, disproportionately affected by these assaults on their bodies and rights should also come as no surprise - their rights and their bodies have always been the most vulnerable assault.” Click here: http://rachelnico.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/adcontroversy.jpg

“Safe and effective family planning is the transformative social justice accomplishment of the 20th century.” Hey! You know what’s even more safe AND more effective! Natural family planning!

Thank you for your patience in reading all the way through. I would appreciate your thoughts.

Saturday, March 17, 2012


A friend of mine, Keith, tried to post the following response to my last post on abortion, but unfortunately due to technology hiccups, he wasn't able to:

"I think it is important to draw a distinction between "Pro-Life," and "Anti-Abortion." Anti-Abortionists are those who promote the legal restriction of abortion. Pro-Life, to me, should be more about promoting life and opposing abortion on moral grounds, rather than legal grounds. I believe it is entirely possible to be both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice. 

I am morally opposed to abortion when the pregnancy in question was the result of consensual sex. (However, In cases of rape, forced pregnancy, and life-threatening emergencies, I feel that abortion is not morally wrong.) I believe that human life ought to be celebrated, and that if the pregnancy was the result of consensual sex, the unwilling mother should do everything in her power to ensure that both her and her baby BOTH live fulfilling lives. I also believe that using non-abortive birth control should be a priority for anyone who engages in sexual activity and does not wish to conceive. Preventing unintentional pregnancy should be a goal of anyone who opposes abortion on moral grounds. In a perfect world, no one would even WANT to have an abortion, and those who had unintended pregnancies would choose adoption. In this sense, I am pro-life.

However, I realize that people make mistakes, and that unintended pregnancy happens. Furthermore, I feel it is wrong for the government to exert control over the contents of an individual's body. It is the exact opposite of freedom and liberty when the government can override an individual's sovereign authority over her own uterus. I morally disagree with abortion, however I believe it is even more morally wrong for the government to enforce that belief. I may disagree with women who choose abortion, but that choice is between them and God. Period. In this sense, I am pro-choice."

I asked him if I could use this as a prompt for my next post, which he agreed to.  I hope that he's reading this and that we can talk more in the future.

Keith's position seems pretty typical of those in our generation who would label themselves conservative, and he does a good job of articulating the position.  I find it particularly interesting because, up until recently, I would have agreed with him on every point.  However, there are some key concessions in Keith's position which I do not agree with.

First, I want to address the concessions for rape, forced pregnancy, and life-threatening emergencies.  The only concession here that I agree to is that of life-threatening emergencies, if there really is no other way to preserve the life of both the mother and the child.

Let me backtrack for a minute.  I do agree that women should have sovereignty over their own bodies.  However, they should also recognize that a natural consequence of sex is pregnancy, whether they are using some form of birth control or not (all of them have fail rates).  Ideally, if a woman is not willing or able to deal with this consequence by carrying the pregnancy to term, she should use her sovereignty over her own body to abstain from sex.  She should not use abortion as a back-up plan.  Even in the case where the woman made a mistake, there is still the option of adoption and there are pregnancy crisis centers which can help women who need to get in contact with adoption agencies.

In the case of rape or forced pregnancy, a woman's sovereignty over her own body has already been violated, by the criminal who forced himself on her and not by the baby which was the result.  There is no difference between this baby and the baby who was planned for in terms of innocence.  To perform an abortion in these cases would still be infanticide.  A woman going through pregnancy as a result of rape or forced pregnancy needs support, counseling and most of all love, but she doesn't need doctors or "friends" suggesting that she just get rid of the problem through abortion.  That can only lead to more heartache.

Secondly, I would like to address Keith's point about birth control.  As I mentioned earlier, all forms of birth control have fail rates.  I only know of one case where abstinence didn't work.  We would expect that with the increased use of birth control, the instances of unplanned pregnancies would go down, but the opposite has been the case.  In reality, birth control offers a false sense of security which leads to more unplanned pregnancies.

But there is another, deeper, reason why birth control is not the answer.  LADIES, YOU DESERVE BETTER!!!  If that man is not willing to have a baby with you, not willing to confront the natural consequences of sex, he is not worth having sex with.  If you want to do something recreational with your boyfriend, go to a theme park or something.

Finally, I agree that the US government spends way too much time trying to control people's choices.  However, the reality is that abortion clinics are an industry and that industry has lobbyists trying to keep that industry profitable.  For this reason, pro-life groups need to lobby in local, state, and federal governments against the abortion industry.

On my part, it is my prayer that governments will not need to legislate against abortion for it to become a thing of the past.  The real battleground is not in legislative halls, but in the minds and hearts of everyday people.  If we can become a nation that cherishes life in every form and strives to protect that life, abortion will become so morally and culturally repulsive that no woman would ever choose it anyway.

Monday, February 13, 2012

On Abortion

Why not begin here?  This seems to be the topic of the month.

This is a response to this blog post: Anatomy of an Unsafe Abortion and especially the last paragraph.  Dr. Gunter is right to be angry at the people who caused this situation, but I wonder if she, like many pro-choicers, is angry at the right people.  While she can't be held responsible for her readers, it is pretty clear from the comments that her readers are blaming the wrong people.  So I made a helpful list:

People who are responsible for back-alley abortions:
  • Doctors who perform back-alley abortions
  • Family members who pressure young women into having abortions
  • Family members who do not forgive young women for becoming pregnant in the first place
  • Rapists
  • Men who pressure their girlfriends into having abortions
  • Anyone who assumes that a young woman below a certain age should have an abortion
  • Anyone who forgets that adoption is a viable option (and anyone who makes adoption a non-viable option)
  • A general lack of support in our society for women who are pregnant and want to carry that pregnancy to term
People who are not responsible for back-alley abortions:
  • The Catholic Church for insisting that all life is sacred (both that of the mother and the child)
  • Pro-Lifers who push for laws that give women time to make a full and consenting decision on whether or not to choose abortion
  • Conservatives (because they all stay up late at night and think of how they can oppress people, especially women, right? no)
P.S. A friend of mine wrote a great post called Doing Pro-Life.  Everyone should read it.  Everyone!


I see media in my Facebook news feed every day that warrants some kind of response.  Usually my reaction is this:

1. I see the article title and think "Dang, I can see where this is going"
2. *Walk away from computer for a minute
3. "I need to see what this is about" *clicks on article
4. *Feel deeply saddened for the world (usually because of a breakdown of communication between people on two sides of a deeply emotional issue)
5. *Walk away from computer
6. "This needs some kind of response" *respond in essay form in a Facebook post

You can probably see how this is a problem.  Facebook is not the best medium for these kinds of responses.  Hence the blog.

I realize that this probably sounds arrogant of me, like I feel personally responsible for responding to things I disagree with.  The truth is, we all are personally responsible for joining the conversation.  I would encourage anyone reading this to respond.  Let's talk; let's debate.  Please, there's too much yelling at each other rather than talking to each other in the world.

So, as a matter of introduction, here's where I'm coming from.  I am a Christian and a very recent convert to Catholicism.  I will be graduating from Baylor University this May with a BA in Linguistics and History.  My responses on this blog will stem from my understanding of my faith as a converted Catholic and, to a smaller degree, my specialization in Linguistics and History.

The name of this blog comes from St. Therese of Lisieux's The Story of a Soul:

"So it is in the world of souls, the living garden of the Lord.  It pleases Him to create great saints, who may be compared with lilies or the rose; but He has also created little ones, who must be content to be daisies or violets nestling at His feet to delight His eyes when He should choose to look at them."

It is my hope that in my own small way, I may improve the great conversation through this blog.