Communism, Abortion, and Homosexuality

God created man in His Own image. A powerful way in which this truth is manifest--perhaps the most powerful way--is that He made man to be co-creators with Him. This was accomplished in two significant elements of the human person:

First, God gave man free will. Each of us has the freedom to choose what he does within his own life, lived out in the physical world. It might not be completely clear how this makes us co-creators with God, but consider this: Every aspect of the world is (from God's point of view, models of quantum mechanics notwithstanding) completely determined and guided by Him. However, when humans make decisions, they do so with autonomous agency. Each one of us makes thousands of decisions in his lifetime. Those decisions direct the movement and interactions of both the physical world and of the decisions of other humans, which, in turn, further affect the course of the created world. The world is not merely the unfolding of a series of mechanistic actions and reactions that God put into motion and then let play out. It's the result of countless individual human choices made with the free will that God gave each individual person. The full history of the world isn't just a creation of God: It's a creation of God and us together.

The second way that we participate in creation is in procreation. As we know, human procreation is fundamentally different from animal procreation, in this: That every time a human conception occurs--every time a woman's ovum is fertilized by a man's sperm--an eternal soul is created. No backs, no do-overs.

What does this have to do with communism, abortion, and homosexuality? Just this: The spread of these three errors attacks the two primary means by which man manifests the image of his creator. Given the significance of free will and reproduction in man's participation in God's image, it should be no surprise, especially in retrospect, that the Evil One would choose something that looks like communism to attack free will and would choose abortion and homosexuality to attack our reverence for human reproduction.

The free will of man can never by removed from his nature. However, communism seeks to suppress it through a system in which men's activities are planned by the state. Communism's goal is the total cessation of free economic interactions, and of any interactions that might significantly alter the direction of history. No individual decisions are supposed to "make a difference" under communism--only the will of the "working masses", which means the will of the state, which means the unending and unimproved grind of the way things are. In the communist system, man's creative impulses are to be hidden, never acted upon. Global communism is the great subduer of free will and of man's participation, through free will, in the great act of creation itself.

How abortion frustrates God's design to include man in His own work of creation should be clear to anyone. The sale of abortion as the "great enabler" (could be the same tag-line of communism, couldn't it?) is the big lie of the late 20th century. If communism (which is all but dead) sought to subdue man's creation through free will, then abortion, in the wake of communism's failure, seeks to subdue man's reproductive participation in God's creative work.

The reality of homosexuality as an attack on God's image in man may be more difficult to recognize. Of course, homosexual unions are inherently sterile, trading God's natural plan of generation for a selfish, pleasure-driven course of life. But homosexuality goes more deeply than that. God's plan of generation through human sexuality is not only a biological mechanism, but is a model of His own plan for Christ's relationship with His Bride, the Church. The most prevalent model of the Kingdom of God in the Gospel is that of a marriage. Jesus is married to His Church, and this marriage is not merely one of mutual love. The Son takes on our nature in Jesus, and He offers us to take on His nature through the sacraments, particularly those of Baptism and Holy Communion. Our receipt of the Divine Nature of Jesus is, of course, incomplete in this world and will only be fufilled in the next. But the point to recognize about this exchange of natures is that it's fruitful. Jesus even uses fruit and generation as a model: You know a tree by it's fruit, and the seed that falls on good soil yields thirty or sixty or a hundred fold. Homosexuality not only divides procreation, and thus man's participation in creation, from the conjugal act; it makes a mockery of Christ's relationship with His Church.

Abortion is the murder of innocents, and we would do well to make ending its legal protection of paramount importance in our political work--even more so than the protection of marriage from proponents of the homosexual agenda. However, in a deeper theological sense, communism, abortion, and homosexuality represent, in that order, an escalation over the past century, of the Evil One's attacks on man's participation in God's image.

The Sounds of (Politically Correct) Silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
No one dare disturb the sounds of silence.
"Fools," said I, "you do not know,
Silence, like a cancer, grows."

In a strange turn, Steve Martin felt forced to remove a Twitter comment (a tweet) he made, regarding Carrie Fisher, after her recent death. This is just one more example of a growing cancer of silence in modern American (and perhaps all of Western) culture. For the record, here's what Steve Martin said:

When I was a young man, Carrie Fisher was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She turned out to be witty and bright as well.

Wow, quite a compliment, huh? So why did he feel "forced" to delete that? It turns out that people in modern America are so bent on finding ways to be offended, that they've decided it's misogynistic to compliment a woman on any quality that might be specifically...well, female.

And that's just the latest example.

At Emory University, students expressed "fear" and "pain" because of sidewalk chalkings that had sprung up on campus. What were these fear-inducing chalkings? Were they calls to arms of Isis for campus bombing? Perhaps some threat of a chemical weapons release to occur within the city? No, they simply said "Trump 2016."

At Yale, students hounded and shouted invectives at staffer Nicholas Christakis. His offense? He agreed with his wife, who said that college students are too old for the college to be telling them what they can and can't wear for Halloween.

At California State University-Northridge, the Student Union paid for an entire week's rental of a tent and ball pit to allow students offended by--well, by whatever language they chose to be offended by--to work out their offense by acting like children and playing in the ball pit.

At Oberlin college, students are offended by the offerings of "ethnic" foods in the cafeteria.

Stories abound, of college students shouting down appearences, overturning tables, and otherwise disrupting the presentations of opinions and ideas that are contrary to a prevailing progressive way of thinking.

Facebook and Twitter (and possibly other social media venues) have begun blocking people, messages, and news that they consider too offensive for their intended audience. Not offensive according to standards of modesty or decency, but standards of whether they consider the message content to be mean or hateful. Given what some people have recently taken to calling "hateful," this could be stretched to mean anything.

A group has released a Chrome extension that will change text while you're browsing, from "alt-right" to "White Supremacy." So, if you don't like to see the word "alt-right," you can download and install this extension.

A modern, predominantly liberal, sound of silence is growing like a cancer throughout America. It seems that no one dare disturb it. To be sure, the phenomenon is small for now, but it is undoubtedly growing. Increasingly, we find people who will no longer speak, for fear of offending someone. A growing contingency of people no longer listen, they just hear and take offsense. If the trend continues, the song of Western culture is under threat of being drowned out by what may well become a deafening roar of silence from a culture of hyper-sensitivity and offendability.

In what some may see as an irony, many of the very people who are finding ever-more inventive ways to be offended are, themselves, pushing the boundaries of the truly offensive, by abandoning every last remnant of civility in how they respond to that which they find offensive. Crudeness and violence seem to be the go-to behavior for people--especially young people--who find themselves in the unacceptable position of not liking something about the world around them.

As reported in The College Fix, when Star Parker, a black activist woman, was scheduled to give a speech titled "Abortion: Planned Parenthood’s War Against The Poor," at the Cal State LA campus, the flyers were removed by protesters in acts of vandalism. Those removing the flyers, when asked why they were doing so, might have said "We believe the message of this particular speaker can be especially damaging to our culture of tolerance and acceptance, which we value on this campus. We want to do everything possible, within the law, to keep her from spreading her errors." Instead, the women taking down the flyers said "because you all are f---ing retarted, that’s why." In protest, the Facebook page of the group hosting Star Parker was characterized as "bigots" and "coons."

Downtrend.com reports that a table set up and manned by "Youth for Trump," outside of a Library on the University of Pittsburg campus was subject to violence and its attendants subject to invectives:

The students supporting Trump also received comments such as “F--- the white male patriarchy!” and “I can’t believe you guys are actually people.” Towards the end of the day, at least six protesters approached the “Youth for Trump” table, swept the remainder of the literature to the ground, flipped the table over and fled the scene.

Kids on college campuses seem to have forgotton (or have never been taught) how to disagree with someone without becoming uncivil. And let's face it: We're not talking about something akin to Jesus' rage when He overturned the tables of the money changers the temple. It's not like the space outside the library held some kind of sacred meaning for the students at the University of Pittsburg, that was being violated by the activities at the "Youth for Trump" table. They just didn't like the message and didn't know how to make that clear without violence and crudeness.

One hopes that it's just callowness at work, and that these kids will outgrow the kind of disturbing behavior that seems increasingly prevalent on college campuses. If not, then America may be only a generation away from being at the center of a very warsome existence, both inside and outside.

As for the growing epidemic of offendedness, though...that doesn't seem to be reserved for young people. One can only hope a cure is found soon.

A Post-Election Personal Letter to American Catholics

Dear Fellow Right-Minded Catholics,

First, I'm not going to bother to be politic or to dance around sensitivities in targeting this letter. By "right-minded," I mean who uphold the hierarchy of teachings and values given to us by the Holy Spirit through the Catholic Church. I'm addressing this letter to those who had an appropriate concern for religious liberty, the protection of marriage, and especially for the lives of the unborn as they approached the polls in these latest general elections. I know there are those who consider themselves Catholic and yet don't accept the assignment of values priority that the Church gives us and which the U.S. Bishops reiterated in the days leading up to these elections. I'm sure such people would take umbrage at my insinuation that they are somehow "wrong-minded." This letter isn't to them.

The 2016 general elections have closed. Well, not completely--the electors still need to make their way to the nation's capitol and cast their final votes for the presidency. But at least the states' popular election part of the presidential selection process has closed, and the general elections of many governors and congressmen, both state and national, is over.

With the combined retainment of a Republican Congress and the election of a Republican president who at least has made promises (of however dubious credible) to do the right thing, when it comes to life issues, there may be a temptation to celebrate. Such celebrations should be short and measured. Even if Trump turned out to be the perfect pro-life president--even if he were, say, a second coming of Ronald Reagan--we should not consider his election a vindication or triumph for the pro-life cause. We should not even consider it a victory. At best, it's an opportunity which we dare not squander.

First, there is much that is needed in our country that the president alone (for good reasons) simply cannot do. While Trump may have an opportunity to nominate candidates for several Supreme Court seats during his presidency, that will not automatically result in the overturning of a growing mound of precedent rulings that are hostile to humanity and the dignity of the human person. Even if a court that would have the combination of conviction and courage to make such a sweeping move, the court cannot simply come together and vacate or reverse past rulings. It has to hear cases in which, to rule the correct way, a past precedent would need to be overturned. This would require such a case to be escalated to the Supreme Court.

Second, even though Trump can immediately repeal the infamous "HHS Mandate," the structure of law that permits the mandate would remain in place and a future president could reinstate it. The president, of his own accord, cannot repeal a law. The Congress needs to do that. It's possible that the current Congress would take that step, in relation to the Affordable Health Care Act, so-called "Obamacare," but such a movement would be some time in coming and would be met by much opposition from the minority Democrat elements in both houses of Congress. Furthermore, even the Republicans might think that to simply repeal it would not be a good idea without replacing it, in the same act, with a health care reform bill of their own devising. Such a product might end up being just as bad as Obamacare, in terms of the powers it gives to the president, and the project might not be completed by the end of Trump's first term. And, while he may get a second term, we should not assume that he will.

Third, there are still two unfortunate truths about this latest presidential race: The first one is that a lot of people voted for Clinton. In fact, of any ten randomly selected voters, typically four or five of them will have voted for Clinton. The second one is that many of those who voted for Trump did so for reasons that they clearly prioritize above protecting the lives of babies. Ultimately, what should concern us more than anything is that we are still a nation defined by our willingness to place other concerns over preventing the destruction of innocent life within our own borders.

If Trump makes good on our hopes relating to the pro-life cause--in the appointment of justices, for example, or in rescinding the HHS mandate--then it means we won't have to spend energy lobbying for those specific objectives. That's the opportunity this presidency represents. If there is a lull in the federal government's all-out war on religious freedom, then it means we can take advantage of that to direct that energy towards changing the hearts and minds of individuals. That's the only thing that will finally lead to a victory in matters of life. Such a victory can never be entirely against the masses who have been seduced by the culture of death. Ultimately, it must be a victory shared by them, as well, with their own conversion back to a culture of life.

Sincerely in Christ,
Dan Engel

A Personal Letter to Catholic Americans

November 1, 2016

Dear Fellow Catholic Americans,

In one week, we're going to be electing a number of representative government officials, including the President of the United States. Four years ago, when you exercised this privilege of Providence, a full half of you voted for the man who now occupies that office, Barak Obama, the most adamantly pro-abortion president this country has ever seen.

Think about that for a minute. Fifty percent of you, members of Christ's Body, helped put a man in the highest office of our land who believes in a world where a baby can be killed at the mere request of the mother. A mother whose world might be shaken by the circumstances of her pregnancy. A mother who might be experiencing a new onslaught of hormones and feelings. A mother who might have been taken advantage of by a man (or a boy) who doesn't care for her at all and who cut and run at the first hint of responsibility. But a mother, nonetheless.

Think about how utterly we recoil and shudder at the thought of a mother killing the babe in her arms. You helped elect to the presidency of your own country a man who believes that a mother ought to be free to, with no more thought than she gives to getting her ears pierced, kill the babe in her womb--a distinction of place only, by the way.

What if this man, rather than promoting a public policy that says "It's OK to kill babies," promoted a public policy that said "It's OK to kill Jews"? Would you have supported him, then? Would his administration's dedication to preserving the right to kill Jews be outweighed by his commitment to promoting a higher sense of civic involvement and responsibility through youth volunteerism? Would it be outweighed by his dedication to the idea that everybody should contribute to the care of the sick, injured, and elderly? Would it be outweighed by his resistance to the ideals of irresponsible capitalism and by his calls to reject the materialism that pervades our society?What then? Would you still have voted for Obama, or would you have put killing Jews on your own, personal, "non-negotiable" list? Assume, for the sake of argument, here, that the Jews in question are not in the womb. But, again, the distinction between these hypothetical Jews and the babies that Barak Obama promotes the killing of is one of place only. Well, place and the fact that the babies are not hypothetical.

By the way, another politician ran on roughly the same platform as that described above, in a certain country in Europe about seventy years ago. The people in that country didn't have "non-negotiables," either.

But here, in the United States, it's babies rather than Jews. Well, babies unfortunate enough to be in a womb, anyway (at least, for now). Our president promotes the freedom to kill those babies without interference or hindrance from State laws, health regulations, or even parental objections.

And you helped put that man in the office of the Presidency. You contributed to the current environment of abortion license. You helped kill those babies.

The question is, what will you do now? Will you do it again? Will you prioritize an old, worn-out, tenuous alliance between Catholics and Democrats over the lives of babies? Will you prioritize the supposed political needs of your union over the lives of babies? What is it that the Democrats and Mrs. Clinton are offering, that you will prioritize over the lives of babies?

But while the question of protecting babies from being killed at will is, perhaps, the issue of highest importance and urgency, it is not by any means the only one that you, as Catholics, are obliged to consider. The Democrats, and Mrs. Clinton, have launched an all-out war on the very concept of the human person and of human dignity that was revealed to us in Jesus and that is taught by our Church. With the addition of embryonic stem cell research, same sex so-called marriage, and gender identity theory to abortion, as causes supported by the Democratic political candidates, it's far past time to abandon any illusion that you can be a good Catholic and support those candidates with your votes. If you're going to vote for people who support the mainstream Democrat causes, please have the integrity to stop claiming to be Catholic. That way, at least we faithful Catholics will have the opportunity to re-evangelize you.

That last comment is, perhaps, more flip than it needs to be. But in all seriousness, I beg you, not for the sake of the country--which may very well be at stake in this election--but for the sake of your own soul, please consider carefully that to which you are called. The Catholic Church is not a club. It's not a tool for bring about social change. It's not a group of people pumping out occasional advice about how to live our lives. The Catholic Church is the Body and Bride of Christ. You are called to live as a member of that Body and to spread the Gospel--the whole Gospel, not just your favorite parts. You are called to proclaim the Kingship of Christ and to live out your citizenship in His Kingdom.

Those who support the elevation of the union of same-sex couples to the status of marriage attack the very image that Christ used most to describe His relationship with His Church. Those who support the use of embryonic stem cells for medical research (or for other unnatural purposes) attack the teachings of St. Paul about the common share in dignity of all members of the Church. Those who support abortion support killing babies. What more needs to be said of that?

What will you do?

At the beginning of this letter, I referred to your power to vote as a "privilege of Providence." Within the civil construct of American law, it is a right; but within the plan of the cosmos, and the plan of God, it's a privilege. You are privileged by the Providence of God to be born into a place and time where you can vote for the composition and activities of your government. God, who has given you the mission, as members His Son's Church, to proclaim His Son's Kingship, has given you an awesome tool by which you can do so. In doing so, He has given you a terrible responsibility. Your vote is not separable from your identity as a Christian and a Catholic. Whether you want this to be true or not, when you vote, you vote as a Catholic. You vote as a member of the Body of Christ.

What will you do?

Consider how you would feel towards someone who scorns, attacks, and wounds your spouse. How do you think Christ will respond to those who score, attack, and wound the Church? When society invites people to think of Church teaching as backwards and in need of an upgrade to the times, it is wounding the Church by pulling those vulnerable to such suggestions away from her. When society actively promotes a view of humanity that is contrary to nature, it is attacking the Bride of Christ, which is the restoration of Humanity to its created nature. How do you think Christ views those who participate in such activities? How do you think Christ views those who enable or support such activities? How do you think Christ views those who, although they are members of His Body, refuse to even speak out against the forces in society that attack and wound His Bride?

What will you do?

Will you use the privilege God has given you, to promote the Kingship of His Son and help create a society for the flourishing of His Mystical Body--His Bride, the Church? Or will you squander God's gift of placing you in this time and place to promote a regime of selfishness, a culture of death, a society that scorns humanity as God created it?

What will you do on November 8?

Will you be a defender of the Bride of Christ and a proclaimer of the Gospel? Or will you stand by and watch the Bride of Christ be ravaged by those who would promote every aberrance of human behavior in the name of selfish license?

If you revere the Bride of Christ, build up His Body, and serve His Kingdom, then the country will benefit. But more importantly than that, if you refuse to do so in how you vote next week, then you risk terrible consequences for your own relationship with Jesus and for the ultimate state of your own soul.

Please consider this truth with the care and gravity that it deserves.

Sincerely in Christ,

Dan Engel, a fellow Catholic American Voter

What would it mean, to truly support Freedom of Speech?

The following is my comment on this very good article at The Catholic Thing:

I completely agree! But then, in some ways completely disagree.

One of the most perturbing aspects of modern (and it seems for much of the history of the United States!) discussion of individual rights (and limits to those rights) focuses around whether a particular right is in the Constitution. This has had a two-pronged effect: On the one hand, claims of true individual rights are discarded or not even put forth because they are not in the Constitution. On the other hand, by torturing specific provisions of the Constitution, novel rights are discovered, which are not at all rights in the natural order.

The adjudication of high matters, such as the definition of personhood, is a fine line to walk for the federal government. Get it wrong and things go VERY wrong, which is probably the strongest argument for following the "procedurally correct" course of referring such matters to the States until there is a solid consensus among the population--solid enough to embed the answer to such a question in the Constitution, either by a general referendum or through the normal process of proposal by Congress followed by ratification by the States.

In the meantime, though, getting to that consensus is a messy matter. Doing so correctly in a pluralistic society (and ensuring the greatest freedom for the Church to operate and bring the Light of Christ to shine on such matters) means letting people be wrong. It even means letting them exercise their wrongness in personal decisions--decisions that they make both in their individual interactions and in how they run their businesses and establishments. I'm not talking, here, about letting them do wrong things, but about letting them do things wrongly.

Some of the early fall-out of the horrendous Obergefell decision is that Christian businessmen are now being persecuted, by being forced to support something that they find deeply offensive. One can make the argument that laws should carve religious freedom exemptions from whatever regime of standards would force people to do that. Or one can recognize that there is an inherent natural right to be the arbiter of one's own decision-making process in whether to engage in a business transaction. No such right exists in the Constitution, but it certainly exists in the founding principles of this nation. If, within the context of transacting business, one has a right to go left or right, then the law properly has no rightful claim over the decision-making process that leads one to go left or right.

Disclaimer for the following: Racism is wrong, absolutely. I don't want anybody to get the impression that I believe otherwise. The following (and the preceding) is a discussion about how to handle wrong ideas in a pluralistic society.

It's in this sense that subsidiarity, perhaps, needs to be more closely examined. For much of what is being foisted on the nation by today's liberal agenda-driven regime amounts to a legally-enforced conversion of social conscience. The liberal left is using the federal government as a carrot and stick to lure/drive society as a whole into a specific kind of society--a specifically non-Christian kind of society. The reason why the conservative right ("right" in more ways than one!) tends to lose ground in this particular war is because they rightly recognize the wrongness of using the federal government for that purpose. That's why they are loath to engage the liberal left in their own game. When someone presents a conservative with the question of "Hey, should the federal government force everybody to accept gender self-identification or should it force everybody to reject it?" they will always respond "neither." In matters such as these, subsidiarity would suggest that the right localization is not a government entity at all, but the individual, with the upbringing of his family and the guidance of his church.

At the same time, though, the conservative right is hesitant to say "Each person should be free to decide what he is going to accept for himself, and he should be permitted to live out his life--his whole life, including how he runs his business--accordingly." The left have long ago left off even pretending to support that principle. But because it (improperly) brings up images of the Jim Crow South, even conservatives are not willing to go there. That leaves conservatives in an awkward position of saying "People should be allowed to live our their convictions in how they run their businesses. Well, except for these particular convictions. Nobody should be allowed to have or live by those."

The discussion is, supposedly, settled on "discrimination." You can't do it. Even though such laws, when applied to businesses and individuals in the private sector, amount to Orwellian thought-crime laws, since they address not the object of a transaction but the decision-making process that leads to the decision to transact, we have, as a nation, decided that it's OK to sacrifice that particular aspect of the First Amendment and that particular aspect of human dignity. In certain areas, even though the law doesn't have anything to say about what you do, it does have something to say about why you do it.

Early indicators of the effects of Obergefell, along with some recent extra-legislative movements by the Obama administration, suggest that maybe it's time to "unsettle" that question. The courts have done (and will do) what they will. So will administrations, both conservative and liberal. What conservatives could be doing, through all of it, is taking every measure to ensure that it remains OK for people to state what they believe, and to live by that--both personally and in how they make business decisions. Conservatives could be making an argument to re-claim our individual right to be the sole arbiters of the decision-making processes we use in our personal interactions and business transactions. Given a pluralistic society, only an environment that is truly supportive of the freedom of speech--supportive in a way that our nation has ceased to be--will allow the Church to thrive in the promulgation of her message. That message, the Gospel, is the only light that will successfully guide the nation through the questions that seem to plague us today, and on which the downfall or prosperity of our nation just might hinge.