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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Just Trying to Be Helpful

Have you ever wondered what the movies "War of the Roses" would look like if it were updated to the 21st Century? You don't have to wonder anymore.

Thousand Miles: Catholic version

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Vaccinated Against Complaints

Many people are up in arms about the recent Associated Press story on vaccines and religion, which highlights the fact that the number of people refusing vaccines on religious grounds is rising. This has caused a large number of people to chastise the benighted ignorance and superstition of Jesus freaks and other backward-thinking peoples.

To demonstrate exactly what's going on, let's take a look at two vaccines: HPV and chickenpox.

The HPV vaccine only protects against about 70% of the organisms that cause cervical cancer. If you are already infected with the disease, it won't help. Men transmit the virus, but they aren't required to be vaccinated. It is recommended for girls as young as 9, but it is only known to be effective for 5 years. The American College of Pediatricians has come out in opposition to mandating it in school-age girls.

Worse, the vaccine doesn't appear to be necessary. Fifty to seventy-five percent of all people are exposed to HPV in their lifetimes. The virus clears spontaneously by the immune system within two years in over ninety percent of all women, posing no risk at all.

Furthermore, the incidence of cervical cancer has already decreased dramatically through routine cervical screening with pap smears and HPV (DNA) testing. For example, the National Health Service of England reports that the incidence of invasive cervical cancer fell by 42 percent between 1988 and 1997 in the U.K because of cervical cancer screening programs.

How useless is this vaccine? Let's look at actual incidence of the disease. In a 2006 study at the University of Alabama, of 39,661 Pap smears, only 732 cases of high risk HPV were detected. Only 6 had smears that required follow-up. Only one of these had high-grade dysplasia.

On the bright side, eleven children have died from the recent HPV vaccination push, and 3700 have reported adverse reactions, according to a report released October 5, 2007 by Judicial Watch using FOIA on the FDA. Of those reactions, 52 were life-threatening, 119 required hospitalization.

So, HPV in non-immunosuppressed, healthy women, is normally cleared just fine by the immune system in about two years. Regular screening substantially reduces the cancer risk in any case, and screening is going to continue to be necessary because the vaccine is only 70% effective at best.

What can we conclude? this vaccine is just a money-maker for Merck. Every companies dream is to become a line item on a government voucher. Merck found a way.

What about chickenpox? For chickenpox, the BBC reports there were a grand total of 269 deaths from chickenpox between 1986 and 1997. 88% of those deaths occurred in people over the age of 20. In the US, of the roughly 100 deaths each year, 55% occur in people over the age of 20.

15-20% of the people who are vaccinated still catch the disease. Vaccinations are not required for adults, even though adults suffer a greatly disproportionate death toll (very few adults catch chickenpox, but they make up over half the fatalities).

So, if you catch chickenpox as an adult, or if you are on any kind of steroids or have an immunopressive disease, such as leukemia, then chickenpox can kill you. But for a normal child not on steroid drugs and without cancer? Not a problem. And notice that a vaccine doesn't work on the immuno-suppressed, so you couldn't vaccinate the leukemia patients anyway.

But wait, there's more. Shingles, which results in three times as many deaths and five times the number of hospitalizations as chicken pox, is much more likely among people who have received chickenpox vaccinations than it is among people who caught the wild strain.

Estimates of costs that these new cases of vaccine-generated shingles will produce over the next 50 years? That would be 4.1 billion.

Hmmm.... what to do?

I've got it! They are now working on a shingles vaccine to compensate for the health problems the chickenpox vaccine is going to cause! And they already know it won't work because vaccination campaigns among adults never do.

The Japanese only vaccinate high-risk populations (1 in 5 children), because they know that regular contact with wild strains boosts the vaccine effectiveness. Our universal vaccination campaign will destroy that natural boost.

But there's a final irony. US pharma companies were careful to use the tissue of aborted children to isolate and grow the virus for vaccine production, even though this is entirely unnecessary. The Japanese, for instance, developed both chickenpox and measles vaccines by simply swabbing the throats of infected children and growing the virii on a morally acceptable tissue substrate.

They had a chickenpox vaccine before we did, but instead of simply approving their vaccine for import, our pharma companies insisted on producing their own and insisted on using aborted children to accomplish it. Chickenpox vaccine isn't the only one that suffers this problem: many of today's vaccines were developed on substrates that used human tissues obtained from aborted children. Many parents, including myself, find these kinds of vaccines as repugnant as using soap derived from the fat of Auschwitz victims.

The number of vaccines recommended for children has more than doubled (23 in the 1980's, 48 today). Giving multiple vaccines simultaneously is KNOWN to increase the risk of negative sequelae, and we're forced to do it more often now precisely because the number of vaccinations keeps increasing, but the time for them (between 6 months and five years for most) doesn't.

Vaccines for polio, tetanus, etc. - all well and good. But we are vaccinating for sillier and sillier reasons. Hepatitis-B in infants? HPV in a nine-year old? Chickenpox? What's the point here?

Now, many people have heard parts of this story swirling around their homes, their schools, their places of work. Is it not the case that even those who cannot articulate their opposition to a stupid vaccine may still rightly reject it?

Is it the fault of religion that the government mostly only allows refusal of vaccines on religious grounds, and won't allow you to refuse the vaccines on the grounds that the relevant scientific studies demonstrate certain vaccines are stupid?

It's another case of government controlling the conversation. I can't walk into most schools in the US and say, "As a certified medical professional who has studied the relevant medical literature on the subject, I find Vaccine X to be a taxpayer boondoggle designed to line the pockets of pharma companies." Nope, that won't cut it. Other "health professionals" opinions trump mine, for no particular reason other than they have billions of dollars backing them and I don't.

Instead, I have to walk into that school and say, "God told me this was wrong." THAT'S the only way I can keep the needles out of my kids' flesh.

So, when a reporter asks me why I don't want the vaccine for my kids, am I going to publicly say anything but what the government requires me to say? NO, I am not.

If I've heard rumors that the medical community is not united on the subject of Vaccine X, can I point to that and opt out? No, I can't. I have to say "God told me it was wrong."

What's the point of even doing the research on the vaccine if I know none of it will matter anyway? All I have to say is, "God told me it was wrong." And if someone I trust has already done the research and tells me the vaccine stinks, then I know my lines: God told me it was wrong.

The problem with government mandates is they create a path of least resistance that doesn't involve learning anything. You just look for the loophole and jump through it.

And how is this the fault of religion?

The way things work now, government isn't the fall guy for buying tons of stupid vaccines with taxpayer money. No, religion is the fall guy. We don't question the vaccine, we look at the Jesus freak and cluck sadly.

Nice work, if you can get it.

The Power of Catholic Schools

And people ask why I wrote this book:

Designed to Fail: Catholic Education in America

Monday, October 15, 2007

Does God Change?

I was recently asked a question which a lot of people pose:

You've just described at best, a mechanical universe, and at worst, a static universe. Your statements also contradict themselves. If God is unchanging, God could not possibly always do what is best for us, because we ARE always changing (unless, of course, we want to throw out any concept of free will, and thus posit that we are mere cogs in a machine, and what we experience is all illusion). The idea that God transcends time really doesn't help here, because God always "doing" for us necessitates entering into time.

There is a way out, though. A God that is changing and unchanging could always do what is best for us, because we are always changing. This is called a relational universe; it is dynamic and more closely resembles the Bible's COMPLETE depiction of God and our experiences.

BTW, I think there may be a few Christians out there who believe Christ suffered on the cross, and that God grieves and rejoices with humanity and for humanity.

God is not the universe. He exists apart from it. So, He created a universe which is meant to grow in its ability to glorify God.

Man, the height of creation, is likewise a creature that grows towards God like a vine grows towards the sun.

Time is just as much a created thing as a rock or you and me. God exists outside of time. Thus, His relationship towards us does not change, even though we change in our relationship towards Him.

As for your last comment, it introduces a paradox (a seeming contradiction):
God does not have a body.
Jesus is fully God.
Jesus DOES have a body.
Discuss. :)

Jesus is one Divine Person having two complete natures.

The human nature Jesus possesses is not intrinsic to Who He Is. Jesus doesn't *NEED* the human nature, He just happens to possess it.

How does this work? The single Divine nature consists of the Divine Intellect and the Divine Will. A complete human nature consists of a human body and a human soul. The human soul consists of the human intellect and human will, so human nature = body, soul, intellect and will.

The one Divine nature does not change.
Human nature is meant to grow and change, it is capable of suffering.

There is only one Person in Jesus - the Son of God.

However, since Jesus possesses two complete natures, He is the only person in existence who possesses two intellects (the Divine intellect and a human intellect) and two wills (the Divine will and a human will).

Thus, while the Divine nature He possesses does not undergo any change (and therefore doesn't suffer), His human nature is absolutely capable of suffering, weeping, laughing, etc.

Because the Person of God possesses this intrinsically unnecessary but still fully functional human nature, we can say "God suffered and God died on the Cross": His actions are "theandric", that is, they have the nature of human actions, but - since those human actions are joined to the divine nature - the human actions are capable of being attributed to God.

We must simply keep in mind that when we attribute a human action to God, that this human action is not intrinsically necessary to Who God is in Himself since the human nature is not intrinsically part of or necessary to the divine nature.

So, yes, He weeps with us, grieves with us, suffers with us, dies with us and resurrects with us, but at the same time He does not change in Himself.

This is why the Incarnation is the key to everything. If God did not take on flesh, then the Deists would be absolutely right. But since He *HAS* taken on flesh, they are absolutely wrong. He injected Himself into time while simultaneously remaining outside of it.

Friday, October 12, 2007


I have just lost all respect for the Nobel Peace Prize.
If Al Gore can win it for lying about global warming, then I should be able to win it for training my pet hamster to urinate in the appropriate corner of his cage.

Ann Coulter, on the other hand, continues to command my respect as a woman who is unafraid to speak her mind and say what is true. While I have had differences with her in the past, her recent commentary concerning the need for everyone to convert to Christianity (well, she should have been specific and said "Catholicism", but she's still in need of full conversion herself), even the Jews, is absolutely correct:

Catechism of the Catholic Church:
674 The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus. St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old." St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?" The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles", will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all".

839 "Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways."

The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People, "the first to hear the Word of God." The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God's revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews "belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ", "for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable."

Romans 11:13-22
Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry
14 in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them.
15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
16 If the firstfruits are holy, so is the whole batch of dough; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place and have come to share in the rich root of the olive tree,
18 do not boast against the branches. If you do boast, consider that you do not support the root; the root supports you.
19 Indeed you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in."
20 That is so. They were broken off because of unbelief, but you are there because of faith. So do not become haughty, but stand in awe.
21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, (perhaps) he will not spare you either.
22 See, then, the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who fell, but God's kindness to you, provided you remain in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off.
23 And they also, if they do not remain in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated one, how much more will they who belong to it by nature be grafted back into their own olive tree.
25 I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers, so that you will not become wise (in) your own estimation: a hardening has come upon Israel in part, until the full number of the Gentiles comes in,
26 and thus all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come out of Zion, he will turn away godlessness from Jacob;
27 and this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."
28 In respect to the gospel, they are enemies on your account; but in respect to election, they are beloved because of the patriarchs.
29 For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.
30 Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience,
31 so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may (now) receive mercy.
32 For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.