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Friday, June 30, 2017

Should We Torture Babies?

The case of Charlie Gard has reached the inflammatory stage. Charlie Gard is a baby who
  • suffers from an inherited mitochondrial disease called infantile onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, referred to generally as “MDDS”.  He suffers specifically from the RRM2B mutation of MDDS.  
  • In Charlie’s case, his brain, muscle and ability to breathe are all severely affected. In addition, he has congenital deafness and a severe epilepsy disorder. His heart, liver and kidneys are also affected but not severely.  
  • Charlie has severe progressive muscle weakness and cannot move his arms or legs or breathe unaided. No one can be certain whether or not Charlie feels pain.  
  • One of the leading experts in the world with a special interest in mitochondrial diseases has concluded that Charlie has infantile onset RRM2B deficiency which is the most severe form.
Now, I am as pro-life as anyone out there. I've been arrested, twice, for blockading abortion clinics. Even as an atheist, I wrote and spoke constantly in favor of the pro-life position. I defended Lila Rose against the Catholics and other pro-lifers who claimed Lila was committing mortal sin by running con on Planned Parenthood.

If you want street cred, I have as much as any pro-lifer out there.

And, that said, it's not clear to me that encouraging the torture of babies is a pro-life position.

Human life is a very great good, but it is not the greatest good. If it were the greatest good, then martyrdom would be a sin, because the martyr would be voluntarily surrendering his greatest good for a lesser good. Human life is not the greatest good, human salvation is the greatest good. Human life is merely a physical good, human salvation is a moral good.

In the same way, human suffering is not the greatest evil. Now, suffering is a very great physical evil. Suffering is the absence of a physically pain-free existence. But pain is only a natural evil. We are permitted to pursue a natural evil if we see that it can accomplish a moral good. This is why redemptive suffering is an enormously great good. Redemptive suffering is voluntarily giving up a pain-free existence so as to unite my suffering with Christ's suffering on the Cross.

Redemptive suffering is the necessary part of martyrdom, it is the aspect of martyrdom that endows the act of martyrdom with salvific grace. We voluntarily give up a natural good (pain-free physical existence) in order to pursue a moral good (salvation). But, make no mistake: suffering is still a natural evil, it is the removal of a good that should be present. And, while we can make the choice of redemptive suffering for ourselves, we cannot choose it for someone else. I cannot say to the executioner, "I am not strong enough to be a martyr. George is. Torture and kill George."

We cannot pursue a natural evil for ourselves (e.g., the pain of surgery or martyrdom) unless it accomplishes a natural or moral good. And we cannot pursue a natural evil for someone else unless it accomplishes a natural or moral good for them. Thus, we are not permitted to inflict pain on someone without good reason.

This is what we mean when we say "no one may do evil that good may come of it". While we may inflict natural evils, we may not inflict moral evils. We can inflict a natural evil if we have legitimate hope that a natural good greater will result that is greater than the natural evil, we cannot inflict a moral evil at all. Thus, we cannot take a human life (commit murder via euthanasia or abortion), even if this would restore a natural good (e.g., financial well-being to the family, health of the mother). We cannot torture another person, even if we have legitimate reason to hope that the tortured person will give up information that will prevent a great physical catastrophe. Torturing another is mortal sin. If the bomb goes off, the murders are on the soul of the man who withheld the information, those murders are not on the souls of the men who refused to torture him.

Torture is strictly prohibited. Human vivisection, experiment without hope of cure, was what the Nazis did to the Jews in the extermination camps. Human torture, disguised as experimental vivisection on human beings, was declared an international war crime. Even the doctor who invented the nucleoside treatment that the parents want to inflict has publicly admitted the difficulty:
The doctor in the United States has not had the opportunity of examining Charlie but, based on the medical information available to him, has acknowledged that he thinks Charlie “is in the terminal stage of his illness”.
Translated, that means The procedure is so experimental, the boy's situation so poor, that even the regimen's inventor admits it will not cure the boy.
When the parents’ barrister Sophia Roper asked if Charlie could be ‘left worse off than he is at the moment’ the [American] doctor said he could ‘continue to deteriorate and he will lose all brain function’.
The doctor accepted that he was ‘not suggesting that it can provide a cure for Charlie’ and agreed that Great Ormond Street Hospital’s application to turn off his life support was a ‘reasonable position’.
Remember, this procedure has not even gotten medical board approval to test out on mice, much less small boys. Very few children have ever seen improvement with this treatment, and they all had a much less severe form of the disease. All were also in much better health when the treatment began. I understand that Charlie Gard's parents want their baby to live. But, they actually have a much better chance of a cure if they were to take the child to Lourdes. After all, there have been many, many more miraculous cures at Lourdes than there have been with this "treatment" at this stage of the disease.

The boy is vegetative. That means he cannot communicate. It does not mean he cannot feel. We know many instances of people diagnosed as vegetative who could most certainly think and feel, but they were locked inside their bodies, unable to communicate their pain, fear, hopes, dreams. We cannot be certain what level of suffering Charlie Gard is experiencing. All we know for certain is that Lourdes water is as likely, more likely, to heal the child.

We know one other thing: the Catholic Church sees nothing wrong with a natural death. No one is under a requirement to seek heroic procedures, which is what this most certainly is. St. Francis referred to our mortality as "Sister Death". Death is a natural evil, seeking to physically heal people is the pursuit of a natural good. Stopping death is not a moral crusade.

Medically, the procedure is as close to hopeless as hopeless gets. Make no mistake here: the parents want to subject their child to medical torture. That is all this procedure is. Even the people who aren't sure if Charlie can feel pain recognize that the parents want the best for their child, while also recognizing that those same parents, blinded by grief, will be subjecting their child to torture in a wild attempt to keep their own adult dreams alive.
This is not meant as a condemnation of the family of these patients or to question their love or motives, but it is meant be an indictment of a system that now herds these families down dead-end roads and prods them into believing that this is the new norm and that somehow the old ways were the wrong ways and this is how we show our love.
Libertarians and conservatives are using Charlie as their puppet to parade their view that Big Government is the Great Satan. And I agree - Big Government is, indeed, the Great Satan. But don't take it out on a little kid. Big Government is, indeed, the Great Satan, but just because the parents oppose Big Government's decision, that doesn't mean the parents are making the correct moral choice.

Treating children is not only reasonable, it is required.
But this... is this reasonable?

Even the American doctor who invented the nucleoside treatment admits Charlie is terminal, if he isn't brain-dead right now, he will be soon, and that pulling the artificial life support so as to allow Charlie to die a natural death is "reasonable." Has anyone thought about the fact that the American doctor admits all of this, yet STILL wants to poke and prod Charlie's body for at least six months before he's willing to allow him to die? The doctor sounds more like a modern-day Mengele, deliberately manipulating the grief-stricken parents for his own ends.

And this is what puzzles me. No one seems to have entertained the possibility that the US doctor was a parasite looking for test subjects, and willing to exploit grieving parents facing a hopeless situation so that he could add a couple data points to his graphs.

But, because this is a slam on "socialized medicine", every right-wing nut in America is virtue-signalling and posturing around Charlie's body. It is unseemly, at the very least. At the worst, it is a pro-abortion attitude.

What is the constant argument of the pro-aborts? "My body, my choice." Put another way, "Parents should have complete autonomy." If we try to save Charlie by arguing that parental autonomy is absolute and sacred, then we have just admitted abortion is a legitimate exercise of parental rights. Even the Catholic Church recognizes that parental rights are not absolute. There are legitimate reasons for government to intervene, such as child abuse or neglect. We may be parents, but we are not gods, parents do not have absolute autonomy, nor should parents make idols of our babies. We are all born already dying. Charlie is simply taking a natural and shorter road than some of us.

Wow - looks like the Pope sees it the same way:
"  “The Holy Father follows with affection and emotion the story of Charlie Gard and expresses his own closeness to his parents,” read a July 2 statement issued by Vatican spokesman Greg Burke.
“He prays for them, wishing that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end will be respected.”  
...When his parents asked to take their son home to die, their request was denied. Gard's life support machines were to be turned off Friday, but the courts allowed the parents to have more time with their child before his death. "   "

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Women "Priests" vs. the Traditionalists

Since 2000, the FSSP has ordained roughly 220 priests.

In that same time period, the SSPX has ordained about 300 men.

Since 2002, about 250 women were "ordained" to be pretend-priestesses.

When people tell you that traditionalist ordinations are "exploding", remember this: from a numerical perspective, traditionalists are experiencing about the same level of success as the heretics.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

EWTN: A Sad Tale

That's essentially the headline from EWTN's daughter publication, the National Catholic Register. A priest who was fired from his job at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is pissed off, so he is demanding the Church fix his crisis of faith.

Why is EWTN running anti-papal crap hit pieces like this?

Sadly, the answer is very simple: at this point, EWTN and its purchased daughter publication, NCR, have been captured by badly catechized older American Catholics.

American Catholics have always been about ten inches from full-blown Protestantism. Remember, it was the bishop of Little Rock, Arkansas who led the charge AGAINST the declaration of papal infallibility at Vatican I. It was the American Catholic presbyterate and episcopate who endorsed the American heresy of the separation of church and state. In fact, the very heresy of Americanism is named after this country, the first heresy named after a specific geographic region in centuries.

The United States has never been a reliably Catholic country, and it still is not. Unfortunately, EWTN relies almost entirely on elderly American Catholics for its revenue stream, so it cannot afford to report the news in a way that will alienate it from the wealthy old people who help it make bank each month.

One of the reasons VC II was called was precisely that Catholic catechesis already sucked rocks in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. The council was called because the state of the world's catechesis had almost uniformly descended to the wasteland that American catechesis had always inhabited.

The pre-VC II catechesis in America was, in fact, so bad, that the minute the 1960s American MSM began reporting that VC II heralded a "change" in Church teachings, most American Catholic laity, and quite a few of the religious and the priests, bought the MSM's reporting hook, line and sinker. If we had been well-catechized, the conciliar teachings could never have been successfully twisted, the majority of American Catholics would never have been taken in by the nutcase "theologians." If adult Catholics had known their faith, they would have known the teachings of the Faith do not change. The very fact that nearly every American adult did buy into the post-VC II heresies is itself proof that the previous thirty years of pre-conciliar catechesis had miserably failed. 

So, it is now 2017, forty-five years after the council. EWTN's audience is primarily elderly retired folk who grew up in the pre- and post-conciliar wasteland. Since this is the SAME audience that was never properly catechized to begin with, either before or after the council, and since EWTN has to keep these para-Protestants happy in order to keep its revenue stream, EWTN's reporting skews more and more weird. The organization has been captured by the people who pay it - badly catechized American Catholics.

Whatever EWTN may have been in the past, it isn't that thing anymore.

To be fair, this is pretty much true of all the Catholic media in the United States. It's all about click-bait now, and the best way to get clicks is to appeal to the Protestant American undercurrent in American Catholicism - brand the Pope seven kinds of heretic, and America's Protestant Catholics will richly reward you. Dan Brown's Protestant history of the Catholic Church demonstrated that in spades. EWTN is following in Brown's grand example, and so are all the other "Catholic" outlets that bash the Pope.

But that's Catholic media for you.
It is now indistinguishable from the MSM.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

My Body, My Spectacles

The question has been asked - are feelings or emotions sinful?

Feelings are generally either factually correct or incorrect. Feelings summarize a whole situation into a single, compact experience. That summary is either essentially correct, or essentially incorrect. But "factually correct" is different from "morally correct."

I am not morally responsible for misapprehending the facts.

The reaction of the intellect to the fact of the emotion is what determines right or wrong, just as the reaction of the intellect to anything the world sets before us determines right or wrong. Feelings are the result of a hormone surge within the body, emotions are a chemical reaction in the brain.

But so is sight, touch, hearing, etc.

We are not responsible for what the world puts before our eyes. We are responsible for what we seek out in the world in order to see. The same goes for emotions - I am responsible for what I seek out, knowing what emotion will be provoked by what I seek.

If I deliberately seek out things to see, touch, feel, that I should not seek, that is sin. But, if I see, touch and therefore feel as part of my work or as part of what the world has placed before me, that is not sin.

When St. Francis encountered the leper and threw up, he did not sin. He didn't mean to throw up - his body just did it. When he used his intellect to deliberately over-ride his body's rejection of the scene, he was able to embrace the humanity of the leper. His intellect allowed him to see what the leprous scabs partially hid. His body saw the scabs, his mind saw the person. His body reacted to the scabs, his mind reacted to the person. Vomiting was not a sin, but embracing the leper was a virtue.

Perhaps a different way of thinking about it will help.

To a certain extent, our bodies are a summary of the whole universe. Our bodies are the bit of the universe we drag with us everywhere we go. The universe presents us with all kinds of things to examine. Because we drag them with us everywhere, our bodies are often the things we spend the most time examining. What our five senses perceive, how our emotions bubble forth, our brain's chemical reactions, these seem central to us, if only because these things are the part of the universe that are always present to us. As Buckaroo Banzai said:

But our bodies are not only a constant part of what the universe presents to us to examine, they are also the part of the universe that serves as a lens through which we view the rest of the universe. Most of the time, I look through my glasses, not noticing the way they balance on my nose. But sometimes, I look directly at my glasses, to see what is on them, and to determine whether or not I am seeing clearly.

My body is the pair of eyeglasses that bring the universe into focus for me. Sometimes, they have specks the size of logs. If we are to see clearly, we need to keep them clean.

Star Wars is Wrong

The rise of the emotional snowflake is part and parcel of the destruction of our old culture and the creation of a new one. This transformation affects everything, even the law.  Today, Matt Lauer tells us there is an "emotional definition of obstruction of justice". Which is true, in a certain sense.

"Your eyes can deceive you. Stretch out with your feelings!"
You see, for people raised on images, my FEELINGS form reality.
"Trust your FEELINGS, Luke!
FEEL the Force!"
Here is the problem. The snowflakes are attempting to apply the following Aristotelian logic:
What I feel is a fact (which is true - it is).
Facts are infallibly correct. (also true - facts, by definition, cannot be controverted)
Therefore, feelings are infallible.
Unfortunately, what seems to be unassailable logic is corrupted by a confusion of terms. What goes unnoticed by most people is that the subjects have been swapped out. We confuse the existence of facts with the content of facts.

Catholic faith distinguishes between the fides quae creditur ("fides kway") and the fides qua creditur ("fides kwa"). The fides qua is the power by which we believe, it is an individual person's ability to believe, it is subjective. The fides quae is the content of what is believed, it is objective. If we were to use an analogy, the fides qua is the shipping pier that holds piles of cargo, the fides quae is the content of the boxes on the pier. The syllogism above confuses the two and treats them as one.

As already indicated, emotions are, indeed, facts. If we consider the facts of any situation, we have to consider the emotional response those facts engender, because it is a fact that people feel emotions, and those emotions can color how they perceive the facts. However, while it is a fact THAT I feel something, the CONTENT of what I feel can definitely be wrong, my emotions can wrongly summarize the situation at hand.

So, while facts are infallibly correct, feelings are not.

Einstein famously said, "Whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed."

Emotions constitute a type of theory. If I encounter a beggar or leper and feel disgust or distaste, I may allow my emotional "theory" to influence my reaction to the leprous beggar. I may throw up, run away, scream at him in order to force him away from me, etc.

My emotions have summarized the situation, but have they done so correctly? Are my feelings infallible? Are my feelings always right? Obviously, I know they are not always right. First impressions say a lot, but first impressions can be, and often are, wrong.

If my rational intellect allows me to recognize that my emotional reaction is often wrong, then, even as I feel the emotional tide, my rationality would attempt to overcome it. If my intellect recognizes that my emotions have incorrectly assessed the beggar's worth, I might still throw up. Emotions are still facts, and my body still reacts to them. But, I would attempt to remove my emotional bias, wipe the bile from my lips and then respond by helping the beggar. I might give him alms, embrace him, care for his wounds, discuss his life's difficulties with him, etc.

Christianity's great leap forward was precisely the emphasis it put upon discounting one's feelings. Any emotionally functioning person is going to reject the image of a flagellated, crucified corpse impaled upon crosspieces of rough-hewn timber. Seeing this sight in real life would be living in a horror movie - we would all be screaming at each other to run away.

Christian rationalism tells us to do precisely the opposite. It tells us not to run away, but to gaze all the more closely. It tells us to investigate and, ultimately, to embrace what looks to all the world like a horror (if you ever wanted to know why horror movies work, it is precisely because they are often a shallow re-telling of the Gospel story).

So, the Christian response is quite simply the reverse of George Lucas' advice: "Your feelings can deceive you. Stretch out with your whole being, your personhood. Don't allow your feelings to become your interpretive theory. Instead, allow yourself to recognize and assist a fellow human person who is in distress."

Dispassionate analysis, objective study of the facts of the case, acknowledging emotion while refusing to allow it to rule the analysis, these are Christian values, founded upon the crucifixion. To say that there is an "emotional definition of obstruction of justice" is true, but that does not make the emotion, or the fact of the emotion, relevant to the analysis of whether or not there actually was an obstruction.

Emotions are facts, but emotions are not infallible, nor are emotions always even relevant. While hate is an emotional response, love is not an emotion. Thus, the lesson of Christianity is precisely to stop trusting your feelings, and start trusting rationality.
God is Pure Reason
God is Love
So, the only reasonable thing to do is to Love