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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mercy Street

The latest tv series I've been streaming from Amazon is Mercy Street ...

an American period medical drama television series created by Lisa Wolfinger and David Zabel. It is set during the Civil War and follows two volunteer nurses from opposing sides who work at the Mansion House Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia.

Here's a bit more about it from the Futon Critic ...

[...] Based on true stories, the new drama follows two volunteer nurses on opposite sides of the Civil War. Mary Phinney, a staunch New England abolitionist, and Emma Green, a willful young Confederate belle, collide at Mansion House, the Green family's luxury hotel that has been taken over and transformed into a Union Army Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, the longest-occupied Confederate city of the war. As the boundaries of medicine are being explored and expanded, the role of women is also broadening. Here, in the collision of a wartime medical drama and a family saga of conflicted loyalties and moral dilemmas, the series plays out a story of the highest stakes.

Executive produced by Ridley Scott (Gladiator and Thelma & Louise), David W. Zucker ("The Good Wife") and Lisa Q. Wolfinger ("Desperate Crossing, The untold story of the Mayflower") and written by David Zabel ("ER"), the new drama is set against the backdrop of doctors and female nurses valiantly struggling to save lives while facing their own trials and tribulations. The intersection of North and South within the confines of a small occupied city creates a rich world that is chaotic, conflicted, corrupt, dynamic and even hopeful - a cauldron within which these characters strive, fight, love, laugh, betray, sacrifice and, at times, act like scoundrels. In the end, Mary and Emma will learn a vital lesson in a country split in two and ravaged by war: Blood is neither blue nor grey - it is all one color ...

I really like it so far. I don't know much about the history of the civil war era, so it's pretty interesting, and I do like Gary Cole, who played the devil in American Gothic :) Here's a bit about Mercy Street ...

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Peggy's cat

Last November I wrote about my neighbor, Peggy, who had just died. Peggy left two cats. One of them was very sick and the family gave her to the SPCA. The other cat, Maggie, needed a new home. Peggy's family asked me to take her, but I already had about 8 - 10 cats here in the yard, so I declined, hoping Maggie would find some place better. Another neighbor was tasked with feeding her and looking for a home for her. Months passed - she was alone at Peggy's house, living in the back yard, and almost every day she would cross the street and visit here, meowing mournfully, maybe looking for Peggy. Then a few days ago she stopped coming by and I hoped that at last they had found her a home. But today my sister and I found that Maggie was in the bushes of the yard here, dead. I don't know why she died, but we took her across the street - some of Peggy's family were there - and they said they would bury her in the back yard. Very sad :(

Friday, February 26, 2016


Last week I took Hansel to the vet to be neutered and found out that he is a girl - apparently tortoiseshell cats are almost always female. She recovered from the surgery quickly :)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Why do women like Trump?

Saw this article today - Do Women Find Donald Trump Attractive? An Investigation. ...

[...] To answer all my questions about whether Trump is really, objectively a troll, I called up an evolutionary psychologist, Todd Shackelford of Oakland University. He assured me that Trump is not, from a scientific point-of-view, good-looking .... And yet, he says, “I would be astounded if there weren’t large portions of the population, particularly the female population,” who see Trump as sexy, because “status, prestige, and resource acquisition are remarkably predictably linked to assessments by women of male attractiveness.” In other words, research backs up the notion that, when it comes to assessing the rich and famous, “women are far more forgiving of physical attributes.” (The reverse, Shackelford says, “is definitely not true.”) ...

Here's Trump back in the day, asked if he would ever want to be president ...

It's a familiar trope, the idea that women are attracted to men who have wealth and/or power, but I don't think that's true. I'm not, for instance. I believe what is attractive to many people is competence, the ability to do something well, and that isn't necessarily connected to wealth or power, though sometimes they're found together. Maybe some women see Trump's financial success as a sign of his competence .... I don't, myself, but it may help explain this disturbing phenomenon without resorting to the "women only care about money and power" thing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

From Rev.Debra Haffner

- Debra Haffner

Faithfully Supporting Access to Abortion Services

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear the most important abortion case in almost twenty-five years. I fear that once again the media stories will leave the impression that those who would deny women access to abortion services have a monopoly on faith; nothing could be further from the truth.

A majority of people of faith in America support the legal right to abortion. Millions of people ground their moral commitment to this right in their religious beliefs. According to a recent Pew Research poll, a majority of respondents from every religious affiliation but one - white evangelicals - said they believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Surprisingly, even almost one in three white evangelicals think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Last month I joined more than 1,200 individual religious leaders and pastoral counselors in signing a friend of the court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a Texas state law designed to cut off women's access to abortion by forcing clinics to close. I signed on as one of the leaders of that brief because I felt it was essential for the justices to hear from those of us in the faith community who steadfastly support that women must have access to safe and legal abortion services.

Last month I joined more than 1,200 individual religious leaders and pastoral counselors in signing a friend of the court brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a Texas state law designed to cut off women's access to abortion by forcing clinics to close. I signed on as one of the leaders of that brief because I felt it was essential for the justices to hear from those of us in the faith community who steadfastly support that women must have access to safe and legal abortion services ....

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War

The most recent book I've checked out of the library is Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War by PW Singer.

I heard of the book while listening to a video discussion among academics about wars of the future. He's written a number of books but this is his first novel (co-written with August Cole). Here's what Wikipedia says of Singer and this book ...

P. W. Singer (born Peter Warren Singer, 1974) is an American political scientist, an international relations scholar and a preeminent specialist on 21st century warfare. He is currently Strategist for the New America Foundation and a contributing editor for Popular Science .... the book melds nonfiction style research on emerging trends and technology with a fictional exploration of what war at sea, on land, in the air, space, and cyberspace will be like in the future. Publishers Weekly described it: "Tom Clancy fans will relish Singer and Cole's first novel, a chilling vision of what might happen in a world war." The release date is June 30, 2015 and Singer has done briefings in the Pentagon in advance of publication.

Here's a brief but interesting talk by him ...

And here's a TED talk by him: "Military robots and the future of war" ...

Monday, February 22, 2016

Muzak at the store

Heard this tonight while shopping :) ...

Contraception: not just the Belgian Congo

There's been much in the Catholic news about the Pope's remark that it would be ok to use contraception to prevent Zika-infected pregnancies and his reference to the Belgian Congo. Here's a bit on this from Crux ...

[...] Speaking about birth control in the context of the Zika pandemic, Francis cited his predecessor, Pope Paul VI. Here’s what he said, translated from Italian:

* Paul VI — the great! — in a difficult situation, in Africa, permitted sisters to use birth control for cases of violence. It’s necessary not to confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy, by itself, with abortion … avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil, and in certain cases, as in that I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. *

The reference is to Congo in the late 1950s and early 60s, where Catholic nuns faced widespread sexual violence and the question was whether birth control could be used to avoid pregnancy after rape.

Francis said Paul VI “permitted” birth control in that context, which, to Anglo-Saxon ears, implies a formal juridical act. The line sparked a frenzy of fruitless Internet searches, as people went looking for a Vatican edict or decree that just doesn’t exist.

Here’s what happened: In December 1961, the influential Italian journal Studi Cattolici (“Catholic Studies”) published an issue in which three Catholic moral theologians agreed that in the Congo case, contraception could be justified

The future Paul VI, at that stage, was still the Archbishop of Milan, and close to the currents that shaped Studi Cattolici. It was assumed the conclusions reflected his thinking. That appeared to be confirmed later when Paul VI made one of the authors, Pietro Palazzini, a cardinal.

Paul became pope in 1963, and never issued any edict writing that position into law. Thus, when pressed about it some years later, a Vatican spokesman could accurately say, “I am not aware of official documents from the Holy See in this regard.”

Still, the Vatican never repudiated the 1961 position, so the takeaway was that it remained a legitimate option. To Italians — and remember, Francis’ ancestry is Italian, and he’s very wired into the country’s ecclesiastical scene — that meant Paul VI approved.

Interestingly, this was not the only time something like this happened. Apparently a similar example took place in Bosnia in the 90s ...

Vatican acts overBosnian rapes: Birth control ban eased for women at risk

THE VATICAN has responded to mass rapes in Bosnia by reviving a decision that women in danger of rape may use contraceptives, even though its ban on contraception in normal circumstances remains.

The ban on abortion remains absolute, although the Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales have decided that the so-called morning-after pill may also be used by rape victims in certain circumstances.

An article in the Jesuit magazine Civillta Catolica, which is approved before publication by the Vatican, argues that contraception is a legitimate form of self-defence for a rape victim. The author, Fr Giacomo Perico, says that rape is an act of violence, to which the rules applying to an act within marriage cannot apply .....

It's all kind of interesting in a historical and academic way, but these crabwise efforts to justify even the slimmest exceptions to the church's doctrine on contraception only show how incoherent the whole doctrine is.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Umberto Eco: RIP

Umberto Eco, Italian novelist and intellectual, dies aged 84

Most will remember him as the writer of The Name of the Rose, which was adapted into a film starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater ...

But he was more than just a novelist. I've had a few posts about him in the past ....

- Umberto Eco twice

- From Catherine of Siena to Umberto Eco

- Umberto Eco and others on women's ordination

And here's an article I saw about him today in The Atlantic ... Remembering Umberto Eco

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Pope Francis OKs contraception for Zika

In the news, Pope suggests contraceptives could be used to slow spread of Zika ...

Pope Francis indicated contraceptives may be used to prevent the spread of the Zika virus, despite the church's longstanding ban on most forms of birth control. His comments may cheer health officials in Latin America but are likely to upset conservative Catholics. At a press conference aboard a flight from Mexico to Rome on Thursday, the Pope was asked if the church should consider contraception the "lesser of two evils" compared with the possibility of women aborting fetuses infected with Zika. The virus has been linked to an incurable and often devastating neurological birth defect .... The Pope then pointed to a narrow exception to the church's ban on most forms of birth control: His predecessor, Pope Paul VI, allowed African nuns to use contraceptives "in cases of rape," Francis said. He did not explain the circumstances or what forms of birth control were used. "In certain cases ... such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear," the Pope said ...

More from NCR - Francis signals opening on contraceptives in deadly Zika cases

Hopefully, this will convince governments in Catholic dominated Latin American countries to make cheap and effective contraceptives available to women. Unsurprisingly, he didn't change his stance on abortion - he still thinks it's wrong - but even this conditional concession on contraception is kind of a surprise ... I'm now counting the minutes until the Vatican press office contradicts what the Pope just said.

Here, There and Everywhere :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

At ABC Religion & Ethics

Looking around at ABC Religion & Ethics and I found a few interesting things ...

- I sort of liked this ... Teach Us to Pray': The Impossibility of Christian Prayer by Sarah Coakley

- I thought this pro-life article by Charles Camosy was very wrong on a whole number of levels ... A Modest Proposal for Children Affected by the Zika Virus

- And there was also a short video interview with David Kilcullen ... Interview: David Kilcullen, a US-based counter-insurgency analyst. What he had to say reminded me of an article I had read at The Atlantic, What ISIS Really Wants, so I looked him up and found this longer talk: "John Bonython Lecture 2014 - Dr David Kilcullen" ....

It's officially spring

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Da Vinci Code movie

I had nothing to watch last night and so I was trawling Amazon's free movies for Prime members and came across The Da Vinci Code. I never saw the movie when it came out, so I decided to give it a try ... hey, it starts with a trip to the Louver to see the Mona Lisa, which I actually got to do on my one trip to Europe :) Here's a bit about it ...

The Da Vinci Code is a 2006 American mystery thriller film directed by Ron Howard and written by Akiva Goldsman, adapted from Dan Brown's 2003 best-selling novel of the same name. The film stars Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, Jürgen Prochnow, Jean Reno, and Paul Bettany.

In the film, Robert Langdon, a professor of religious iconography and symbology from Harvard University, is the prime suspect in the grisly and unusual murder of Louvre curator Jacques Saunière. He escapes with the assistance of a police cryptologist, Sophie Neveu, and they are embroiled in a quest for the legendary Holy Grail. He is pursued by a dogged French police captain, Bezu Fache. A noted British Grail historian, Sir Leigh Teabing, tells them the actual Holy Grail is explicitly encoded in Leonardo da Vinci's wall painting, the Last Supper. Also searching for the Grail is a secret cabal within Opus Dei, an actual prelature of the Holy See, who wishes to keep the true Grail a secret; the revelation of this secret would certainly destroy Christianity.

The film, like the book, was considered controversial. It was met with especially harsh criticism by the Roman Catholic Church for the accusation that it is behind a two-thousand-year-old cover-up concerning what the Holy Grail really is and the concept that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene were married and that the union produced a daughter. Many members urged the laity to boycott the film. Two organizations, the Priory of Sion and Opus Dei figure prominently in the story. In the book, Dan Brown insists that the Priory of Sion and "...all descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate".

As the Wikipedia article goes on the mention, the movie was controversial and church representatives went into a frenzied effort to dismiss the movie's theories. But I didn't find it be be anti-Christian or anti-Catholic. Roger Ebert thought it was entertaining too and gave it 3 out of 4 stars in his review.

The film had some good actors: Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Alfred Molina (Doc Ock), and Jürgen Prochnow (Jesus and of course, the captain of Das Boot ) and it was a travel movie too in which we got to see the Louvre, Lincoln and Winchester cathedrals (which stood in for Westminster Abbey), Belvoir Castle (which stood in for the Pope's summer residence), and also Rosslyn Chapel. And there were interesting bits of history as well ... the various references to obscure esoteric items, from a non-canonical gospel (Gospel of Philip) to a treatise on the prosecution of witches (Malleus Maleficarum) were intriguing.

What I found the most compelling idea in the movie was that of a married Jesus. There's a line near the end of the film where the Tom Hanks character asks, "Why couldn't Jesus have been a father and still be capable of all those miracles?". Indeed, why not?

Here's a trailer for the movie ...

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day ;)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Francis meets Kirill

UPDATE: Feb 15 ... Ukrainian Greek Catholics: "betrayed" by "half-truths" in Francis and Kirill’s Joint Declaration

Much in the news about the meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill ... Pope, patriarch meet in Cuba nearly 1,000 years after split

Here's a bit about the East–West Schism ...

East–West Schism, commonly referred to as the Great Schism of 1054 is the break of communion between what are now the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches, which began in the 11th century and continues .... in 1053, the first step was taken in the process which led to formal schism: the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Michael Cerularius ordered the closure of all Latin churches in Constantinople, in response to the Greek churches in southern Italy having been forced to either close or conform to Latin practices. According to the historian John Bagnell Bury, Cerularius' purpose in closing the Latin churches was "to cut short any attempt at conciliation".

In 1054, the Papal legate traveled to Constantinople for purposes that included refusing to Cerularius the title of "Ecumenical Patriarch" and insisting that he recognize Pope's claim to be the head and mother of the churches. The main purpose of the papal legation was to seek help from the Byzantine Emperor in view of the Norman conquest of southern Italy and to deal with recent attacks by Leo of Ohrid against the use of unleavened bread and other Western customs, attacks that had the support of Cerularius. Historian Axel Bayer says the legation was sent in response to two letters, one from the Emperor seeking assistance in arranging a common military campaign by the eastern and western empires against the Normans, and the other from Cerularius. On the refusal of Cerularius to accept the demand, the leader of the legation, Cardinal Humbert, excommunicated him, and in return Cerularius excommunicated Cardinal Humbert and the other legates. This was only the first act in a centuries-long process that eventually became a complete schism.

So, really, this meeting of Francis and Kirill is *not* the first step to healing the big rift between Eastern and Western Christianity - that occurred when the Pope met with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I a couple of years ago ... Pope Francis Bows, Asks For Blessing From Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew In Extraordinary Display Of Christian Unity

So why the big deal about Francis meeting Kirill - after all, the Russian Orthodox Church is just one of the Eastern Orthodox Churches (the Greek Orthodox Church is another).

It's about politics ... as an article in Christianity Today states, the Russian Orthodox Church has the majority of Orthodox members and Kirill is the heavyweight of the Eastern Orthodox Church. For some, Francis' choice to meet Kirill has negatives connotations as well as positive ones. As the Christianity Today article adds ...

The Orthodox church has previously reached out to Protestants, and some evangelicals hoped Kirill’s rise to the patriarchy of the ascendant Russian church in 2009 might improve ecumenical relations. But since Russia’s annexation of Crimea, religious freedom in the region has been curtailed. More than 1,100 religious communities that were recognized under Ukrainian law are no longer allowed under Russian law, and authorities are threatening all religions outside the Russian Orthodox Church, the US State Department reported in October. Relations between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Kiev Patriarchate have also frayed.

Kirill himself is a figure of controversy and the meshing of the Russian Orthodox Church and Putin's government has been mentioned often in the press ...

Putin and politics loom over the Pope and the Patriarch

[...] Since 2012, when Mr Putin began his third presidential term, the Kremlin has aggressively pushed an agenda of conservative social values close to the church leadership’s heart, such as curbing sexual minorities’ rights and censoring the arts. A year ago, a production of the Wagner opera Tannhäuser in Novosibirsk was closed down after the church said it was blasphemous. Members of Pussy Riot, a feminist protest group, were sentenced to two years in a labour camp for staging a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s Christ The Saviour cathedral. They appealed to the mother of god to rid Russia of Mr Putin. In contrast, Dmitry Tsorionov, a rightwing Orthodox activist, served just 10 days in prison after smashing artworks he claimed were mocking Jesus at an exhibition in Moscow last year ...

Read more ... this from John Allen at Crux: The case for caution over the pope/patriarch meeting ... and here's a 2012 article in Newsweek: Putin’s God Squad: The Orthodox Church and Russian Politics

You can read about the joint decree from Francis and Kirill at NCR and you can read the decree itself here.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Pope Francis and the sex abuse Cardinals

From Newsweek - Vatican Tells New Bishops They Don’t Have to Report Sexual Abuse to Police - and Cardinal Pell has said he's too sick to leave Rome to testify on sex abuse in Australia. And this from the editors at The New York Times: Tracing the Bishops’ Culpability in the Child Abuse Scandal. Here's part of the Times editorial ...

Pope Francis’ commission on the clergy’s sexual violation of children had a timely private screening in Rome last week of “Spotlight,” the Oscar-nominated film about the pedophilia scandal in Boston. The film offers the Vatican, if it will listen, an emphatic lesson in accountability. It dramatizes the decision by The Boston Globe to do more than enumerate the scope of the scandal by reporting on cases involving scores of abusive priests. The scandal was tracked up the church hierarchy to Cardinal Bernard Law, who eventually had to resign his leadership when the news media, not the church, documented his role as a protector of abusive priests.

Hierarchical accountability remains a pressing issue that the Vatican has not fully confronted in the numerous dioceses of the world where the scandal was suppressed. The pope’s 17-member commission presented fresh evidence of this failing when one of its two abuse-victim members, who had gone to the news media to criticize the slow pace of its work, was suddenly suspended on Saturday in a commission vote of no confidence .... Mr. Saunders may have become an impatient and annoying dissident on a commission charged with developing advisory solutions for the problem, but he has a valid point that Pope Francis cannot afford to ignore. Regaining credibility among the church laity requires clear and timely investigation and punishment of prelates who covered up the rape of children with hush money and rotated abusers to new parishes to commit fresh crimes ...

Pope Francis was invited to the Vatican screening of Spotlight, but he did not attend. And meanwhile, Cardinals who are known to have covered up sex abuse, like Brady, Mahony, and Law, have not received even a single word of criticism from Francis, much less any punishment.

- Mahony: Los Angeles Cardinal Hid Abuse, Files Show

- Brady: Irish cardinal refuses to quit amid court case over paedophilia 'cover-up

- Law: Where Is Cardinal Bernard Law Now?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Links and oranges

I picked some of the oranges from the tree in the yard today. My parents planted the tree when I was a kid, along with plum and apricot trees. My step-father has a lot of fruit tress at his house now too - mostly pluots. But anyway, the orange tree isn't doing so well now, perhaps from years of drought, and the oranges are the size of tangerines ;)

Links ...

- What new Catholic bishops are, and aren’t, being told on sex abuse

- Why America Is Moving Left

- The Young Barack Obama Anticipated How “Fetal Rights” Could Endanger Women and A New Con for Anti-Choice Activists: Secretly Buying Up Abortion Clinics

- What Made Ancient Athens a City of Genius?

- Top German Catholic Bishop: We Need A Reduction In The Number Of Refugees

- :) ...

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

In the yard today

Today my sister took some time off work to help me catch Mouse (bad leg) or Gretel (impending motherhood) to take to the vet. Unfortunately, we couldn't catch either one of them, but she was able to help me drag a small dead tree into the never diminishing twig pile instead. Here's Gretel sitting in front of it and looking smug ...

And here's her brother Hansel, trying to take a nap on a too small potted plant :) ...

Sunday, February 07, 2016

I'll make you a fisher of men

From the movie Jesus, a version of today's readings: "I'll make you a fisher of men" ...

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Pope's sex abuse commission and Peter Saunders

In the news, Peter Saunders, a clergy sex abuse survivor and a member of the pope's sex abuse commission, was told to leave (see below). I'm not really surprised .... Pope Francis has done pretty much nothing for the victims of clerical sex abuse and Saunders is not the type to quietly wait for hypothetical change in the distant future.

- Pope's Sex Abuse Panel Tells Survivor to Take a Time-Out

[...] Peter Saunders, a British advocate for victims, had been highly critical of the Vatican's slow pace of progress in taking measures to protect children and punish bishops who covered up for pedophile priests. He had also wanted the commission to intervene immediately in individual cases, rather than just craft long-term policies to fight abuse ....

In an interview with The Associated Press, Saunders said commission members, with one abstention, asked had him to step aside after concluding they could no longer trust him to work within the scope of the commission's mandate .... He said the Vatican's inaction in the face of continuing cases of children being raped and molested "made me lose faith in the process and lose faith in Pope Francis." ....

The commission had been highly critical of Francis' decision to appoint a Chilean bishop despite allegations from abuse survivors that he had covered up for the country's most notorious pedophile, the Rev. Fernando Karadima. One of Karadima's victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, joined Saunders on Saturday in Rome in hopes of speaking to the commission but was refused. Cruz had been proposed as a possible commission member but emails published in the Chilean media showed how the Chilean church hierarchy worked to keep him off the panel.

- Abuse survivor disputes removal from Vatican commission, seeks papal meeting ... "I have not left and I am not leaving my position on the commission," said British children's advocate Peter Saunders. "I was appointed by His Holiness Pope Francis and I will only talk to him about my position." Saunders was speaking in a press briefing in Rome late Saturday, after the Vatican released a statement that day saying "it was decided" by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors that he would be taking a leave from his position as one of its 17 members .....

- More: Fr. Thomas Doyle in 2014: Pope's new abuse commission is another promise waiting to be broken

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Nickel Creek - Reasons Why

Where am I today, I wish that I knew
'Cause looking around there's no sign of you
I don't remember one jump or one leap
Just quiet steps away from your lead

I'm holding my heart out but clutching it too
Feeling this sort of a love that we once knew
I'm calling this home when it's not even close
Playing the role with nerves left exposed

Standing on a darkened stage
Stumbling through the lines
Others have excuses
But I have my reasons why

We get distracted by the dreams of our own
But nobody's happy while feeling alone
And knowing how hard it hurts when we fall
We lean another ladder against the wrong wall

And climb high to the highest rung
To shake fists at the sky
While others have excuses
I have my reasons why

With so much deception
It's hard not to wander away
It's hard not to wander away
It's hard not to wander away

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Updated: The Catholic church and Zika

I'm posting all this because I find it pretty awful that the church is willing to allow so much suffering, all to defend what has been both a failed teaching (almost every Catholic who can access contraception does so) and a fraught teaching (everyone from bishops conferences around the world to hundreds of theologians to Paul VI's own pontifical council have contested the teaching). Here below is what I've come across so far on the subject of the church and Zika.

February 5th ...

- Vatican remains silent on contraception in Zika hit countries ... The Vatican has been asked for comment by several media organisations but has not replied.

- Brazilian Bishops Reject Abortion as Response to Zika Virus ... In a Feb.4 statement, the conference made clear that reports of a causal link between the mosquito-borne Zika virus outbreak in Brazil and a surge in cases of microcephaly, a type of birth defect with potentially serious consequences for the child, did not justify a stepped-up campaign to loosen legal restrictions to abortion.

- Honduran Cardinal Warns Against Aborting Zika Fetuses ... Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, a top adviser to Pope Francis, has denounced the idea of “therapeutic abortions” — which are carried out because of fetal abnormalities — as a response to birth defects caused by the mosquito-borne Zika virus that is setting off alarms throughout Latin America.

February 4th ...

- Concern grows over Catholic church's silence over Zika virus crisis ... Robert Kennedy, chair of the department of Catholic studies at the University of St Thomas in St Paul, Minnesota, said the church was unlikely to ease its stance in light of the crisis. “I think the church will take what steps it can to offer support – material, spiritual and personal – to families affected by the problem, but I see no circumstances in which the church will repudiate its teaching about artificial contraception .... The Vatican did not respond to a request for comment.”

- Surge of Zika Virus Has Brazilians Re-examining Strict Abortion Laws ... Religious leaders are vowing to resist any effort to ease Brazil’s abortion laws because of Zika. “Nothing justifies an abortion,” the Rev. Luciano Brito, a spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife, told reporters. “Just because a fetus has microcephaly won’t make us favorable” to changing the law.


- Zika tests Catholic position on birth control

Zika-infected mosquitoes aren't just causing medical problems, they're creating a theological conundrum for the Roman Catholic Church, according to priests and other experts. The church has long forbidden nearly every form of birth control, but health officials in some Latin American countries have advised women not to get pregnant, because the virus has been linked to an incurable and often devastating neurological birth defect. "I've never seen this advice before, and when you hear it, you think, 'What are the bishops going to do?'" said the Rev. John Paris, a bioethicist and Catholic priest at Boston College ....

More ...

- Church Doctrine Complicates Situation For Pregnant Women In Zika-Affected Areas

-  Zika Is Circling Cuba. What Will Happen When It Lands?

- The Zika outbreak presents the Church with a major dilemma

Tuesday, February 02, 2016


- David Bowie's lifetime interest in Buddhism to culminate in Bali scattering of his ashes

- The Church Owes Planned Parenthood an Apology

- Can ravens read each other's minds?

- Why Latin American Women Can’t Follow the Zika Advice to Avoid Pregnancy ... With more than a million people infected with the Zika virus in Brazil and millions more cases expected throughout the Americas, government health ministers say the best way to avoid the worst effects of the virus is for women to stop getting pregnant. Pregnant women affected with the Zika virus have given birth to thousands of babies with microcephaly, a rare birth defect that causes serious brain damage and lifelong impairment. But with strict abortion laws in place across most of the region and a massive unmet need for contraception and sex education, avoiding pregnancy in the affected countries may be easier said than done .... experts seem skeptical that the anti-abortion laws, which have been repeatedly passed by mostly-male governments in Catholic countries, will be changed any time soon.