March 2005 Archives

brief request

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Update: As of Friday afternoon, I am about 30% improved. I am still off work until Monday, and I am still under orders to go directly to the ED if things get worse. But I think it has turned the corner. Thank you for your prayers. My dh and I are going to try to get to the Perpetual Adoration chapel later to pray for the Holy Father and all the other things demanding prayer.

I hope this isn't too self-centered, but would you all oferr a quick prayer for me? Around noon today I noticed that I was having trouble seeing out of my right eye and that the lid felt puffy. John came home from work early and took me to the urgent care, where I was diagnosed with peri-orbital cellulitis. That's an infection in the tissues around the eye - my eyelid is bright red and swollen like a birthday balloon. A CT scan was done to make sure that it wasn't actually in the bones around the eye, and that showed that I also have a slight inflammation in my ethmoid sinus. I was on an antibiotic for a UTI - that has been d/c ed and I am now on a different antibiotic that should cover infection at both ends. I am also taking benadryl and will shortly be collapsing into bed.
My instructions are to get some sleep - if it gets any worse overnight I am to go to the ED, if it doesn't improve I go back to the doc tomorrow, and only if it is basically gone will I be able to go to work tomorrow. I am also supposed to be on call Saturday amd I don't know if that will happen either.
Please pray that I be given the ability to cope with this and that God be glorified in it. I'm in some pain - not much, but the fear is worse. The problem with being in the medical field is that I know too much sometimes and so fret over the zebras, instead of taking the reassurance that the hoofbeats are really just horses.
Please pardon any typos or grammar errors in this. My depth perception is shot and the benadryl is starting to kick in - and it usually completely knocks me out.


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Comments from a radiologist.
Too bad this has been greatly ignored.
The question that I have that has not been answered (and may not be answerable).
What kind of malpractice did Michael allege that got the huge settlement? Was Terri dropped on her head in the days after she was found unresponsive? Was she given the wrong medications (like insulin instead of glucose) because someone had a dyslexic moment reading the labs? Was there actually no malpractice but rather a reflexive 'let's settle this' response from the insurance companies involved?
I realize this is all seemingly moot given that Terri is dead now, but I think that we need to keep hounding the authorities and finding the facts - something that apparently the courts totally refused to do.
The fact that the legal system has refused to carry out one of its prime directives. I was told when I reported for duty on the Grand Jury last year that our job was to evaluate the evidence and to try to determine what the facts of the situation were. We were then informed what the letter of the law was (actually it was read to us from the statutes) and only if the facts, by a preponderance of the evidence, supported the assertion from the DA that the law had likely been violated, were we to return an indictment.
We need to have the facts.

May the Lord have mercy on her soul


I just heard that Terri Schiavo died. May the Lord have mercy on all of us as well.
Last night on EWTN, I caught the tail end of an old Fr. Groeschel show, when he talked about a legal case where an elderly woman was starved to death in a similar circumstance.
I had this eerie deja vu feeling.
I think that we will see more and more of this with the 'triumph' of the right to die movement.

InfoTheory is a blog I found through a comment on Lilac Rose. He has some fascinating thoughts on the whole situation, form a perspective that I hadn't considered. He also has a sweet trollslap in the comments to his 3/28/05 post.

the day after easter

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Last Easter we were all chatting about food, music, liturgy and the usual day to day stuff - celebrating that the end of Lent and shouting out our Alleluias. This Easter, while we are still joyful that "He is Risen!", there is a tinge of melancholy overlaying the season.
I think that we may be experiencing a bit of what the disciples did in the week just after the Crucifixion. Only a few actually learned of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Most of the others learned of it gradually and still others just didn't believe it when they first heard the news.
Think about the conversation on the road to Emmaus. The disciples were despondant. Their Messiah had been executed, and their faith suffered - and I think that they were wondering if they had been misled and deceived. What joy they must have felt upon learning that not only was He risen, but that He was walking with them!
And consider Thomas the twin, the doubting apostle. How shamed and yet joyful he must have been upon not only seeing but touching his Lord.
And on and on. We don't hear the stories of all the others who must have been doubting and then astounded, but I can well imagine the suffering and despair they must have initially experienced.
And then - to only have Him with them for 40 days. How much more puzzled and sorrowful they must have been.
We here are also puzzled and sorrowful, and we don't understand what God is doing in our lives. Yet we have the word of eyewitnesses to His death and resurrection.
Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief.

natural disaster


Earthquake and tsunami, same area as 12/26/04
updates here
pray for all these people - they are all children of God

Francophone blogger Renaud on polling and truth.
The provided translation (via Yahoo) is a little bit awkward, but one can still get the gist of what he says. The French is poetic and oh so true.
« La Vérité, c'est ce que l'intelligence voit quand elle regarde la réalité. ».
Je n'ai pas fini de méditer cette phrase.

veritas - quid est veritas?

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The Easter triduum is good for a lot of conversation between me and my husband. You see, we still are in the choir of the parish we joined when we first moved to New Hampshire - even though we now live 15 miles away. We do a lot of talking during the drive. These last few days, as it has become increasingly obvious that Terri Schiavo will be put to death by starvation (barring of course a miracle of divine intervention) this has been the major topic of our conversations. A few themes keep emerging as we consider what is happening. One of the hardest things for both of us to cope with is that what seems to obvious to us seems to be obscured from the view of most of the rest of the world.

We have a couple of major disadvantages should we have desired to remain in ignorance about the whole fiasco. He works in radio, not in any way responsible for or able to have an effect on content, but still a part of the mainstream media. I'll let him speak to how this has affected him. (He blogs very occasionally over at Fathers Know Best).
I work within the chaos that is healthcare in the USA, and have studied (formally and informally) biomedical ethics. In a presentation on biomedical ethics and midwifery that I originally gave in 2000, I observed that the principle of autonomy was running rampant. The dominant model of biomedical ethics in the USA is based upon the ideal of balancing 4 principles - patient autonomy, provider beneficence, provider non-maleficence, and societal justice. Autonomy is basically self-determination. Beneficence is the duty of a health care provider (nurse, physician, pharmacist, etc.) to do good. Non-maleficence is the duty to do no harm. Justice looks at the effect of a medical decision on society as a whole, and includes financial as well as moral considerations. While there are some advantages to looking at decision-making using these concepts, the really big disadvantage is that it is a form of moral relativism. Without an absolute value for good and evil, using these principles to make life and death decisions can be like trying to pay your mortgage with a mixture of real and counterfeit currency.
As Catholic Christians, we have a foundation of absolute values to make use of, and an ethical/philosophical framework (natural law) to interpret these values for use in everyday life, in both ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. But the culture in which we live in the USA does not recognize either the existence of absolute values nor the proper use of the natural law. There is a big difference between 'natural law' and the 'law' that we keep hearing has been properly followed in condemning Terri to a slow death by dehydration.

Among the main contentions of Michael Schiavo is that Terri made the autonomous decision, when she was of sound and whole mind, that she would not want to remain in the situation where her physical sustenance would come through a tube. I recognize that there is (to some of us at least) a bit of a question as to the truth of this contention. But let us, for the sake of discussion, grant that he is indeed accurately rendering a fragment of a conversation from nearly 20 years ago. If we did not as a culture have an unholy admiration for autonomy, it would be obvious that a desire to be allowed to starve to death is not morally right. It violates the natural law, written in our bodies by our Creator, that life is a precious gift and worthy of being sustained.

Beneficence is often interpreted (unfavorably) these days as being patronizing. It brings up images of the elderly physician patting the young woman on her head and saying, "don't you worry your pretty little head about a thing". But that isn't what it is at all. It is taking the responsibility to do what it right, what is moral, what is best for a given individual.
These days,what passes for non-maleficence are the behaviours and choices made in the effort to avoid a malpractice suit. Some of these are worthy for the attempt to provide the highest quality of care, but much of it comes down to CYA documentation and bureaucratic red tape. Independant accrediting agencies like JCAHCO and OSHA have increasingly demanded behavioural changes like taking a 'time out' just as a baby is being born to verify that this is in fact the person the midwife, nurses, doctors, are there to deliver. I know of a low-income clinic who was forced to replace all their rolling stools because the ones they had only had 4 wheels, and the OSHA inspector told them that safety standards demanded 5 wheels.

Justice, which I think was originally intended to see to it that the risk and the poor were provided the same quality of care, has morphed into a kind of utilitarian ethic. Some commenters on Terri's case have made the argument that the $$$$ spent over the last several years to maintain her in the hospice, would have provided much sorely needed health care to others like pregnant moms, infants and children, etc. The argument goes that tube feeding and such care is futile, as it simply prolongs dying at an enormous financial cost. If the tube feeding would enable the person to become a useful member of society, well, that would be a different story.

Without a bedrock of absolute values, the "4 principles" balancing theory of medical ethics goes horribly astray.

Without that bedrock we are left with Pilate's question. And we will continue to sacrifice more innocent disabled persons, in the womb and outside, on the altar of autonomy (or its surrogate, substitutive judgement).
May God have mercy on us all.

How should we behave?


language is power


I think it was in the novel 1984 that language was used as a tool, through newspeak and doublespeak. I get very perturbed at the phrase "right to die". We all have the right to die, indeed the duty to die - what we don't have is the right to choose the circumstances and the timing for ourselves or for others. Normally, choosing the time and method for the death of another is considered murder, or at least manslaughter.
Over at Fathers Know Best, my dh has posted a few musings about legalism, TOTB, and Terri. I have a few vagrant thoughts of my own, but I probably won'tget them posted until much later, given that this is Holy Saturday which means 1) a long Mass tonight and 2) Easter (with food and all) tomorrow.

Opus Dei

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The times that try men's souls


I am not much of a political person. Most of my personal political energy has been spent in a far different arena, that of trying to preserve my profession (midwife) from attack. I've fought for the rights of women to have the birth that God intended, I've fought to protect them and their babies from conception on, I've fought for the right to give care that I know is safe and humane. Along the way, I've had to learn a lot about law, medicine, medical ethics and a whole bunch of other stuff that I initially thought was irrelevant to providing safe and compassionate midwifery care.

I learned about civil disobedience from other midwives, including the two who attended the births of my two middle children. In attending my births, they were breaking the laws of the state of California, which at that time forbade any but a licensed physician from attending a birth except in emergency. I picketed at courtrooms when a friend and midwife was arrested and charged unjustly.

I learned that it is illegal to indict for a criminal act if a law is passed after the fact making that action illegal. It is called an 'ex post facto' law. I read recently that the Floridal law which allows Terri to be starved to death was not passed until 1999. It is too bad that she hasn't been charged with a crime - she would have more rights as a convicted criminal than she does as a disabled human being.

I don't know where our country, indeed our world, is headed. I can but hope and pray that God will indeed pull good from evil. I must confess to twinges of doubt and despair. I'm not into walking. on water, and it is getting harder all the time to keep my eyes on Jesus.

What follows was posted to a much earlier blog post on Terri Schiavo. I thought it worth bringing forward. It opens with a phrase that will be eerily familiar to most if not all of us.

Now, I'm off to Good Friday services. Will be praying and praying and singing and crying and praying some more. The wood of the Cross - let us worship, let us adore.

from my inbox today


Where is America Going?

Life and death choices (in which they also quote a midwife).

one sleepy mommy


checks in

And regina posts just about how I am feeling lately

from bill luse


goodbye, terri

You are not wood, you are not stones, but men;
And, being men, bearing the will of Caesar,
It will inflame you, it will make you mad:

I haven't blogged much the last few days. Part of it has been that I have been busier than a one armed paper hanger with fleabites, but more of it is that I have been feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Terri's fight for life seems to have been lost. Pundits in law, medicine, and social policy have spoken, and it seems that they have all banded together against the will of the people.
The will of the people, as clearly expressed in our efforts to influence our elected representatives, was that the courts start again from the beginning and examine the evidence. I think the legal term for this is 'de novo'.
The legal status for imposing the death penalty on a criminal is that the crime be proved beyond a reasonable doubt - and that the crime be so horrendous that society as a whole believes that justice can only be served by meting out this ultimate penalty. But suicide has become so socially acceptable that we now justify suicide by proxy and even extend that 'right' to where there is not even a preponderance of evidence that the proxy has an accurate knowledge of the victim's wishes.
The New England Journal of Medicine (A rag I am coming to dislike more and more these days, I think that their editorial staff has incredible bias in more than one area) did an early release of two articles commenting on Terri Shiavo. NEJM doesn't usually make full-text available to non subscribers, but these articles are currently available (you will need Adobe Acrobat to read them). They will probably not be available after the print publication date, so I suggest that you print them and save them if you are likely to need them later.
Attorney George Annas writes an article "Culture of Life" Politics at the Bedside -- The Case of Terri Schiavo. He is oh so reasonable (to the point that I am reminded of the speech in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar - "So are they all, all honourable men"
The other article, by Timothy Quill M.D. Some of my correspondents have pointed out to me that Dr. Quill is no stranger to these kinds of controversy. Here he writes about 'Terminal Sedation and the Voluntary refusal of foods and fluids'. I always thought that there was ahuge difference between voluntary and involuntary, but what do I know?

The best responses I have read to date on these kind of patronizing attitudes toward this profoundly disabled but (as of right now) still alive woman is found in this article from (of all places)
Not Dead at All
Why Congress was right to stick up for Terri Schiavo.
By Harriet McBryde Johnson
Posted Wednesday, March 23, 2005, at 4:50 AM PT
The Terri Schiavo case is hard to write about, hard to think about.

She really does say it, and well.

There are several posts I would rather be writing now. I have a couple of recipes that I would like to share - but I feel enormously guilty that I am even able to eat right now. Survivor guilt I think it would be called. I am sitting at the keyboard with my cup of tea at hand, and I am so grateful that I am able to sip it when I feel dry. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must feel like to be dehydrated to death. I've never been sick enough in my life to even need a couple of liters of IV fluids to get me back in balance. I know what my hyperemesis patients tell me about being so parched and yet being physically unable to take even a sip of fluids. But I can't comprehend it. And don't tell me that Terri can't feel this. How can you, how can anyone know this? We don't know what she does or doesn't feel.

I have one other nightmare thought. After they have succeeded in murdering Terri through deprivation of food and water, what next? I can see that the misguided compassion that allows this will go to the next step."See" they will say," You forced us to torture her to death because you would not allow us to make her passing quick and painless. We should have been able to just give her a quick injection of painkillers in a lethal dose. You pro-lifers have no compassion at all." Is this not where the Nazis started out?

May God have mercy on us all.

BTW - If I am ever in a bad state physically, I want my care managed according to the basic principles of Catholic care as outlined in the CCC. When in doubt, choose life.

Please go vote


The Christian Science Monitor has a survey up on Terri Schiavo. Please weigh in here. I am pleased to see that my dh made a brief comment as well.

In my email today


I received a letter about this.
I haven't had the time to research this fully, but I am going to put the full text of the letter in the extended entry, as a public service. I have not yet found enough information to form an opinion.

There is a chilling line in The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide
"Only in Nazi Germany was sterilization a forerunner of mass murder..."
Given the widespread prevalence of contraceptive sterilization (permanent and temporary) in our culture, I can only hope that this is a true statement. But given the increasing acceptance of first abortion and now euthanasia, I have my doubts.
also worth reading (if you have a strong stomach):
The War Against the Weak
Mentally and Physically Handicapped
The Origins of Nazi Genocide
Medicine under the Nazis

we all need some comic relief


This was posted a week ago but I just got around to reading it. We have been stressed and solemn lately, and for good cause. But I remember hearing that one of the sainted Teresas implored God to save us all from sour-pussed sisters, so I have taken the liberty to share this gem from the Curt Jester, once again.


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Timeline of the culture of deathHow a handful of progressive foundations and quasi-government agencies
set out to provide equitable distribution of health care,
and in the process,
created a duty to die and a culture of death.
And how they hope to secure their legacy . . .
Thanks to Jordan for the link

May God have mercy on us all


addendum and correction


I was in error linking the development of tubal ligation to the Nazis. mea culpa. I try to do thorough fact checking but in this case I accepted the word of a secondary source without double checking.
I found an article on tubal ligation that includes a historical timeline as well as some technical descriptions of the surgery. As you can see from the timeline, it appears that most of the research was done in countries other than Germany:

In 1897, Kehrer and Buettner divided the tubes between the sutures.

In 1898, Ruhl cut the tube 5 cm from the uterus and sutured the ends to a vaginal incision.

In 1898, Rose removed the tubes at the cornua.

In 1919, Madlener crushed and ligated the tubes with nonabsorbable suture.

In 1924, Irving published his method in which the proximal portion of the severed tube is buried in a small myometrial tunnel on the anterior uterine surface.

In 1930, colleagues posthumously published the Pomeroy technique in the New York State Journal of Medicine.

In the 1940s, Hajime Uchida developed his technique, which can be performed as an interval or puerperal procedure. He subsequently reported on his personal experience with more than 20,000 tubal sterilizations over 28 years without a known failure.

In 1936 in Switzerland, Bosch performed the first laparoscopic tubal occlusion as a method for sterilization.

Given what we now know about the Nazis' they probably experimented with these techniques, but they did not seem to have developed any 'pioneering innovations'.

I've been thinking

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(that I really wish I could have my headlines written by Dawn Eden!)

A few days ago, I posted a link to an article about a Catholic midwife at Auschwitz. I also sent the link to the midwife listservs to which I belong. The response was generally positive (hey, midwives are like any other group - we like to hear and read good stuff about our fellows). But there were a couple of disturbing comments made along the lines of "the Catholic church did nothing at an official level to save jews (midwives or not) from camps." Pope Pius XII, who was in the chair of Peter before and during WW II, has gotten a lot of bad press recently alleging that he, and the Church as a whole, did little or nothing to stop Hitler and his methodical genocidal activities. Patrick Sweeney has a list of books defending the Pope, and I think that most are also aware of the defamatory book Hitler's Pope and its like. My intent here is not to go into detail on the events of 60 + years ago - they are very important and I urge all to study them. My intent is rather to reflect just a little bit on how we have learned from history (or tried to) and have chosen to speak out here and now, trying to prevent the forces that enabled the Nazi death camps, the Soviet gulags, the many other genocides of the past from being re-established in our day.

The first step to annihilating a group of humanity is to declare that somehow, members of that group are somehow less than human and are therefore not entitled to the protections to which the rest of us are entitled. The other tactic that might be employed is to acknowledge that this group of "others" may in fact be human and as individuals possessed of those rights and protections, but that as a group they constitute such a threat to the well being of the 'whole' that their rights mus be sacrificed "for the greater good". It is a sick game that has been played out repeatedly throughout history.

Two thousand years ago, the Roman empire attempted to annihilate both Christians and Jews. The government believed that their refusal to make even a perfunctory obeisance and sacrifice to the deified Caesars was a grave threat to the well-being of the whole empire. Two hundred years ago, it was widely held that even the slightest amount of African heritage made one innately inferior, and hence less that fully human - subject to being owned and abused. Racism, ethnocentrism, cultural prejudices are sadly a part of the human condition, an inheritance of Original Sin, and often as well become occasions of actual sin. Seventy some years ago, a group of men with a belief in 'racial purity' and eugenics founded a political movement whose effects are still reverberating on our culture today.

The Nazis did not start out with wholesale genocide. If they had, I think (at least I hope and pray) that all institutions around them, from the various churches to the various social and governmental agencies, to the governments of foreign countries, would have risen up in protest and stopped them. No, they started out small, with appeals to ideals of perfection and improvement, and their allies on other shores were blindsided. Eugenics, for example. "Let's improve the welfare of all of us by preventing the burden of the unfit!" It started with appeals for voluntary birth restrictions from 'the afflicted', campaigns for birth control among the poor, the ill, the ethnic minorities. It moved on to court-ordered sterilizations despite the lack of scientific evidence to support the idea that these afflictions were actually inherited. The Nazis developed methods of abortion (intrauterine injection) and sterilization (tubal ligation) that are still in use today. In this country, Margaret Sanger and others widely supported the ideals, if not the methods, of the "Race Improvement" movement. Planned Parenthood's founder was well known for her racist views. "Colored people are like human weeds and are to be exterminated" is a direct quote from some of her earlier writing. Her 134 page booklet "The Pivot of Civilization" includes the statement that among the aims of the American Birth Control League (predecessor of Planned Parenthood) is:
"Sterilization of the insane and feebleminded and the encouragement of this operation upon those afflicted with inherited or transmissible diseases..."
The Catholic church fought against these concepts throughout the world, including in Nazi Germany. The church spoke out then as it does now against abortion (especially forcibly performed abortion), sterilization (especially eugenic sterilization) and euthanasia. The church denounced the attitudes that ultimately led to the atrocities of Nazi Germany, but in hindsight might have been able to do more. On the other hand, the physical administration of the church (in the Vatican) was geographically and ideologically trapped, surrounded by Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, Communist Russia and its satellites, robustly anti-clerical France - to say nothing of the anti-Catholic countries of Scandinavia and Great Britain.

Today, the Catholic church continues to speak out against the cultural forces that she believes are evil. In an extremely rare intervention on behalf of an individual, the Vatican has pleaded for the life of Terri Schindler-Schiavo. The church has argued against all forms of euthanasia, from the abortion of disabled and dying unborn babies, to the 'mercy killings' of handicapped children, to the intentional lethal overdoses of Oregon's "Right to Die" act, to the intentional starvation of those who are disabled and brain damaged. Seventy years from now, if our culture comes to its senses and begins to repent these crimes as we now repent the many unspeakable atrocities of Hitler's Germany, will the church be derided for having done too little to save the helpless? Will JP II be vilified as Pius XII is currently being vilified?

My other question - are we, as individual Catholics and Christians (and whatever other faith persuasions - or none) doing enough? Are we acting on our convictions? Are we helping and supporting those who are the most helpless? Is there something more that we could do that would be the equivalent of those heroic persons who risked themselves and their families to try to rescue Jews and others from the death camps?

I am not calling for an unthinking vigilanteism, although the helplessness one feels when hearing about Terri (and like cases) could easily lead to vigilante action. The battle is for hearts and souls. Storming the castle walls, no matter how tempting, is not likely to be of avail. We have pulled out our weapons. We are praying. Some of us are fasting. We are using the tools of democratic government. We are appealing to the good sense and ethical core of those in power. Yet on many levels we are still as helpless as the first century martyrs before the jeering crowds in the coliseums.
addendum - Christopher Blosser has this about the history of Euthanasia and the Nazis

Pulled out of the comments box below


St. Maximilian Kolbe, Patron of Journalists, Patron of prisoners, you were imprisoned for your Christian witness in your secular society and for your Marian Devotion.
You willingly took the place of another and suffered your Martyrdom from starvation.

Intercede with God our Father for our sister Terri. Intercede with God for the
journalists who are reporting on the intended starvation of Terri, that their eyes
may be opened to see this event as the murder of a disabled innoncent. May they also see beyond the lies of those whose authority has been abused in ordering her death. May they be granted the courage to speak their minds and the courage overcome the pressures of our Culture of Death on (and within) the media.

St. Kolbe, intercede with God to comfort Terri in her time of trial. While your
martyrdom was by choice, hers is not. You and Terri are both victims of societies with distorted views of Perfection and of the value of the individual.

May God have mercy on the actions of those within the Legal system of the United States. May the legal system of this country be returned to the values of cherishing each individual. May we view with horror the parallels between the actions of the legal system of the United States of America and that of Nazi Germany. May the suffering of our Parents and Grandparents during "The Second World War" not have been in vain.

May God Bless those in the United States who hold and express Christian values and defend the lives of those who are innocent and can not defend themselves.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen

book meme

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The Trousered Ape passed me the challenge

1. You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?
That is a tough one - because I would have to memorize it and recite it repeatedly. I would be responsible for seeing that the book did not pass into oblivion. I think that I would probably go for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, because it is not boring and the language is poetic enough to memorize easily.
2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
I don't get crushes.....
3. The last book you bought was . . .
French Women don't Get Fat. Hey, the Glad Gastronome suggested it and it was for sale at CostCo when I went by there last week...

4. The last book you read was . . .
America's Bishop: The Life and Times of Fulton J. Sheen by Thomas Reeves.

5. What are you currently reading?
French Women don't get Fat
The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History by Thomas Woods
Why Humanae Vitae Was Right by Janet Smith

6. Five books you would take to a desert island:
The Ronald Knox translation of the Holy Bible
The Complete Shakespeare
The Past through Tomorrow by Robert A. Heinlein
The 1940 Hymnal/1928 Prayer Book
Nouveau Petite Larousse Illustré. Dictionnaire Encyclopédique. (I didn't think I could get away with the Encyclopedia Britannica!)

7. What three people are you passing this stick on to and why?
Eutychus Fell I think that he has an interesting perspective on life
Father Shane Tharp of the Catholic Ragemonkeys - just to see what books he would have on his desert island!
Aisling, the Princess Mommy - because moms read too!

Keep praying

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(A friend sent this to me and asked me to post it. Please feel free to disseminate it widely and to pray it as well).
St. Jude, the Church honors you universally as the patron of things
despaired of. Today we ask for your help at a moment of great need. The
hour is late; the night deepens. We beseech you, glorious apostle; use
your special place in heaven to pray that the life of Terry Schaivo be

St. Faustina, Apostle of the Divine Mercy, in life you taught us that
Jesus is limitless love and unfathomable mercy. Pray with us, that
Christ's tender mercy be upon Terry Schaivo. Jesus, we trust in you.

Archangel Michael, we seek your aid. The forces of darkness come ever
near another victory. We have reached the last bastion and our forces
are nearly spent. We ask that you come to the defense of Terry Schaivo.
Shield her from the forces of evil that seduce the hearts of men.

Mary, ever Virgin, we pray for your help. By the words of your Son we
know you to be our mother and the mother of Terry Schaivo. Hold our dear
sister and her family close to your heart. Pray with us, Holy Mother of
God, that her life be spared and health restored.

All the angels and saints in Heaven, please, pray with us.

Almighty and eternal God, healer of those who trust in you, hear our
prayers for Terry Schaivo. If it be your will, spare her life. Restore
her to health, that she may give you thanks and praise with her own
voice, and thus be a symbol to all the world of the sacred nature of
life. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen

Midwife at Auschwitz

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an article about Stanislawa Leczynska.

Archbishop Chaput speaks out

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Over at Happy Catholic


From slate


Oy vitae
on stem cells, embryos, and ethics.

new to the blogroll


The Bride of Bob the Ape.
Would love to hear her conversion story - from Protestant missionary to Catholic homeschooling mom?

vocabulary maven time


Bob the Ape sent me to take The Commonly Confused Words Test.
It thinks I'm a genius.
If so, why can't I figure out how to fromat my posts so that the blockquote tags work properly?

while I was lolling around this weekend


there has been a fascinating discussion of the heresy of Universalism over at Flos Carmeli.
Drop by and join the conversations

Crown of creation?

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I've been listening my way through a 10 CD set of Christopher West expounding on the Pope's Theology of the Body. I keep hearing humanity referenced as the "Crown of Creation". Does anyone know from whence that reference originates? I am sure that it has been around for a while, but the phrase is not to be found in the Bible. Is it used in some of the early Church Fathers? Or maybe some more recent theologians?
Part of what piqued my interest is that I have been thinking about euthanasia, especially of the perinatal sort. It has become so very common in our culture to commit prenatal euthanasia (aborting babies with birth defects) that even many who are otherwise opposed to abortion find nothing objectionable in this. It is often included in the 'hard cases' that also usually include rape, incest, and maternal health issues.

speaking of erik

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He had a most excellent post earlier this week, on cooking. Allow me to quote a bit here:

Cooking, to mean anything, must involve the transformation of raw ingredients into satisfactory edibles.

Cooking prowess can be divided into stages:

1. Following exact directions with a basic command of culinary technique.
2. Modifying existing recipes based on experience with a variety of ingredients.
3. Creating brand new recipes.
4. Improvising brand new recipes.
5. Total culinary virtuosity: improvising brand new recipes with improbable ingredients (if you have read Tony Bourdain, foie gras with a Starburst candy reduction should immediately come to mind).

I generally consider myself to be between level 3 and level 4. Let me give an example.
Earlier in the week, John called me from the store to ask what he should bring home that I could cook for dinner. He was standing at the fish market. I drew a mental blank and told him to bring home whatever, I would figure out a way to cook it. He brought home a pound of sea scallops and a pound of boned salmon.
I started some rice cooking in the back ground, and got out my favorite pan (it's a 10" covered skillet aka a chicken fryer - but a wok would also work).
I peeled and diced 2 carrots, chopped up two celery stalks and a baby vidalia with greenery (you could also use a bunch of scallions or a leek)and sliced a couple cloves of garlic. These I sauteed in a little butter in the pan. I then added in a cup of sake and simmered until the sake was almost completely evaporated. While that was evaporating, I rinsed the scallops and cut the salmon into scallop sized chunks. I tossed them in to the pan and seasoned with a seafood herb mix I keep on hand (Trader Joe's Seafood broil) - probably about a tablespoon or a little less. I sauteed this until the the fish lost its translucency and then I tossed in a 4 oz jar of marinated artichoke hearts with their marinade and heated through. Served it over the rice with a green salad on the side and some crusty bread. Yum.
Would this be level 3 or level 4?

thanks, erik


movie quiz


What Classic Movie Are You?
personality tests by
(see extended entry for pic and answer)

New Blog!

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My internet buddy Pam is an NFP teacher, semi-retired attorney, and home-birthing mom. She is also a lactation advisor.
Her blog is titled Fertility, Faith, and Feminism.
Please be aware that her definition of feminism is more in line with Mulieris Dignitatum (and Susan B. Antomy, for that matter) than with "Feminine Mystique" and/or NOW.

10 things

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a meme that has been popping up - 10 things I did that you probably didn't
1. Ate enough chocolate liquer bottles to get intoxicated at the age of 10 (lived in France at the time)
2. Got a spiral fracture of the fifth metacarpal while shoveling snow
3. Did a classical music show (Baroque and before) on a college FM radio station
4. Read completely through Dewey Decimal system #s 610 to 619 at three different libraries
5. Flunked HS CHemistry then aced it 5 years later in college
6. Regularly wrote postcards using transliterated Tolkien runes (see the appendix to LOTR)
7. Made scrapple from scratch, and then ate it
8. Dropped out of ROTC to get married.
9. Went from 4 cm to a babe in arms in less than 2 hours - 6 times. (went 8 to baby in 8 minutes, and 9 to baby in 9 minutes)
10. I lost on Jeopardy, baby.
addendum: scrapple is a dish that is kind of a cross between pork sausage and polenta. pork, seasonings, buckwheat flour, and cornmeal are cooked together into a kind of mush that is them chilled. It is sliced and fried like fried mush before serving.

But of course!

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You are 'Latin'. Even among obsolete skills, the tongue of the ancient Romans is a real anachronism. With its profusion of different cases and conjugations, Latin is more than a language; it is a whole different way of thinking about things.

You are very classy, meaning that you value the classics. You value old things, good things which have stood the test of time. You value things which have been proven worthy and valuable, even if no one else these days sees them that way. Your life is touched by a certain 'pietas', or piety; perhaps you are even a Stoic. Nonetheless, you have a certain fascination with the grotesque and the profane. Also, the modern world rejects you like a bad transplant. Your problem is that Latin has been obsolete for a long time.

What obsolete skill are you?
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Tough cases make bad law


Should we save mother or child?
Link emailed to me by a friend. Thanks!

thoughts about liturgy and music

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One of the wonderful things about the internet is that one has the opportunity to interact with all sorts of folks.
I'm on an email list that is primarily supposed to discuss the Pope's Theology of the Body, but often gets onto all sorts of other stuff. One recurrent theme (as it seems to be everywhere that Catholics gather) is liturgy.
A fellow listmember posted this on her blog - she asks some pretty good questions. If you have been following the discussions from the frustrated choir director over at Catholic Light, you will certainly also want to read this.
I know that Erik considers the pianoforte to be the instrument of the devil (at least in certain venues). Me, I love the guitar when played like the lyre but not when blasted out and aplified into white noise. But does one's personal taste really have any value when considering the appropriate instruments for liturgy and worship?

Breaking news

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I have agreed to be one of many contributors to a pioneering effort to provide free faith based news and commentary on the web. To the best of my knowledge, we are all doing this gratis, out of our love for this medium and our passion for the truth.
Details here.
As you can see, I'm a relatively minor player among this group of stellar writers and commentors, but I hope that I can contribute matters of interest.
Story ideas welcome!

NFP article


Kevin Miller


Only perfection allowed

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Dawn finds a tale of prenatal diagnosis and tragedy
I am so saddened that parents are being counselled that their only humane choice in these matters is to abort (prematurely end) their pregnancies.
I am saddened that our standards of personhood are approaching those of Gattica.
I grew up reading science fiction dystopias like John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, with mandatory genetic testing and abortion/sterilization of 'undesirables'. I never thought it would happen in my lifetime.

addendum - sorry about the bad link, will try to redo later
Article on the new SAT
NY Times op-ed on the writing component of the SAT

God Blog article


In Todays' NY Times
Registration usually required. (Try Bug Me Not in the blogroll if you don't want to register)

From the Times UK

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movie meme

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from Erik, Julie, the Mamas
The first 5 lines from movies that pop into one's mind.
At first I didn't think I could do this since I am seriously movie deficient in my education. But I thought I would give it a try. Feel free to laugh at my feeble attempts.
"Thataways!" (the close of one of the Star Trek movies)
"Frahn ken steen, not Frank en stine" Young Frankenstein (on pronouncing his name)
"Please sir, could I have some more?" (Oliver Twist)
That's all I could think of. Sad, isn't it? Now if you had asked me about songs from musicals.......

I wonder if my cable includes National Geographic?
If so, here is what I will be watching Sunday Night

INterview Questions for Kevin Miller


1. You seem to be all over the blogosphere on matters of Catholic Medical Ethics. What is your day job, and how did you prepare for it?
2. If you were appointed president of a University, what would be the first change you would make?
3. Who is your favorite philosopher, and why?
4. What was the last book you read and enjoyed>
5. What do you see as the most important public action that Catholic families can take to promote the culture of life?

Sorry to be late on this

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I hadn't been over to Such Small Hands for a couple of weeks, and underneath the truly tragic news (just go there and read it) was her request for me to do this meme.
LeeAnn, I am so sorry about the loss of your daughter's young man. There are not words for the grief. It makes no sense.
So here it is.
A Few of My Favorites.

What’s your favorite kind of cookie? Lemon sugar cookies.

Who is America’s most overrated actor? I have no clue. Don't pay attention.

Name a guilty pleasure. Sleeping in late.

“Scrubs” or “Everybody Loves Raymond”? Neither.

Name two things you can’t live without. Hot tea with sugar, and Chocolate.

Your first pet’s name + your mother’s maiden name = your pr0n star name. Kia Price.

What song are you listening to right now? Not listening to music.

Name your celebrity crush.Don't have one, unless you want to consider Raymond Arroyo?

Favorite punchline from a joke. Jesus Saves (about the computer contest between Jesus and the devil)

Who do you want to pass this meme off to? Valerie, Elena, and Pansy

I wish I could go....


Interview #4


Dale posts his answers here
Kevin Miller asked for an interview - my questions will be up soon.

Two articles worth keeping


I want to live

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Wonderful 'music video' of the unborn
thanks to my friend nancy for finding this!

More interview questions

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My entries (this is 1600) and my comments (now at 1598 since I moved to are almost even!
Hilary asked for an interview - here you go, madame.
1. Who is Philothea and why are your blog posts mostly letters to her?
2. Is it true that you are planning to relocate to Malta? Is it more a matter of not liking where you are or of liking Malta?
3. Your email "quicustodiet66" looks like it comes from a famous Latin phrase about who will watch the guardians. Why did you choose this particular phrase?
4. What saint or biblical person would you most like to interview? What would be your first question?
5. What do you read for entertainment? (or do you read for entertainment?)

Sliding down the slippery slope?


I remember that when Humanae Vitae was first promulgated, there was widespread disbelief that contraception would lead to all the negative social effects Pope Paul VI predicted. There are still a great many compassionate and religious persons out there who honestly believe that the way to prevent abortion is to make contraception widely available.
Here is commentary from a Protestant pro-life leader who lost her job fighting against 'live-birth' abortion. Jill Stanek closes with a challenge to all of us:

Pro-life groups and churches must take greater responsibility for abstinence training and not leave that up to the pregnancy help centers. We must also continue to dialogue about the issue of contraception and make up our minds not let the other side divide us on that.

life is worth living


Smockmomma sent me to read this review of Million Dollar Babyso I will add this to the blogroll - check it out!

Nancy's answers

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1. Tell the rest of my readers a little bit about your kids (don't forget the adopted ones).
ALL of my kids??! Geez, everyone should be sitting...

petitions for terri

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I haven't blogged much on Terri Schiavo, but it isn't because I don't care. I do care, terribly so. I am at a loss for words, actually. What can I say that hasn't been said so many times already by so many others? Mr. Luse's excellent article in Touchstone, (which even caught the bishops eyes), and so many others out there. But here is a list of various petitions that you might want to check out.
Center for Recaliming America
Conservative Petitions
Presidential Pardon
Petition Online
Protective Custody

thanks to alexa

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It's snowing, my cat is sick again, my baby is in London for the week and my sweetheart is blowing the snow off the driveway in preparation for going to work. I took the week off to try to do some spring cleaning but the weather is depressing me. Time for another stupid meme.

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.


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