The jury in the Stephen Lawrence murder trial retires to consider its verdict against defendants Gary Dobson and David Norris. (my emphasis).So the BBC clearly knows the correct verdict...
Thursday, 29 December 2011
Wednesday, 28 December 2011
And wishing all my readers a Happy and Holy Christmastide...
Friday, 23 December 2011
When the death penalty was abolished in this country, it was done because there was a political consensus that the risk of killing an innocent person, small though it was, was not a risk that a civilised country ought to take. This young man was 'thought to be' 'brain dead.'
Of course he was not dead: his heart was beating, his body was functioning at some level. But that is necessary for vital organ donation: truly dead donors are of no value, as the vital organs deterioriate too quickly once the circulation of blood has stopped. (See previous posts tagged Organ donation for a fuller discussion and links...)
It is that necessity for what are called 'heart-beating donors' which has led to the redefinition of death so that vital organs may be taken from patients who (until recently) any doctor would have certified as still alive.
This case, along with many others, proves how costly that utilitarian re-definition is in reality.
We have come a long way since then - but I would not call it progress.
H/t Blondpidge on Twitter
IMPORTANT UPDATE: here
Thursday, 22 December 2011
When the healthy child survived the attempted abortion, was delivered alive, but allowed to die, because it was thought to be unwanted (though in fact the mother had been scared into having the abortion by medics telling her the child was severely handicapped).
Here's how the Independent reported the NHS Medical Director's reaction:
Richard Blunt, medical director of the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Trust, said that no attempt to resuscitate the baby was made, despite it appearing healthy, because Ms James was undergoing a termination. "If you do a termination late in pregnancy then [the foetus] comes out in one piece ... and that therefore it may be alive and kicking. This is the dreadful thing. [The foetus] did not have any major physical abnormalities, but it would require a post-mortem to establish any internal problems. Everyone was so upset it turned out to be healthy."
This was back in 1994 (the report is from 1996), but I don't remember coming across it then.
Read the full article, weep and pray...
Wednesday, 21 December 2011
They have had recent coverage in both the Catholic Herald and the Sunday Times.
They plan to launch their fundraising campaign in the Spring. See here for further details.
I am sure they will value prayers, as well as financial support...
I have also heard wise medics say: the presenting problem is often not the real problem.' that is why many are concerned at (for example) the self-prescription of Ibuprofen and other drugs: without a proper diagnosis, patients may be covering up symptoms of something that needs different, and possibly more serious, treatment.
Let us turn then to the issue of abortion. 95 - 98% of abortions (let us not quarrel about the precise number, it is big enough in either case) are performed for therapeutic reasons - that is reasons related to the mental wellbeing of the mother or of other existing children.
Yet the treatment is a physical one: destruction of the unborn baby (or foetus/embryo/, if you will).
That is poor medicine - as is evidenced by the fact that the same procedure frequently has to be carried out again and again on the same women. The underlying problems are not being addressed.
The real problems are things like:
Some women getting pregnant when they do not want to, or are in no position to, raise a child
A society which teaches that it is better to have an unwanted child aborted than adopted;
Some women viewing pregnancy as a disease or a disaster or something to be feared, rather than a blessing (as many do, of course);
Some men demanding that women be sexually available to them 'without consequences;'
Some men putting huge pressure on women to have an abortion the woman does not in fact want;
Lack of social and societal support for women facing unwanted pregnancies;
and on and on.... (speak to anyone who works in pregnancy counselling for a long list).
Abortion, of course, solves none of these: how could it?
Doctors do themselves and women, not to mention their unborn children, a huge injustice when they collude with the pretence that abortion is the solution. They should undertake a proper diagnosis, and then help women form a positive plan, with the necessary support, to start to address the problems surrounding their pregnancy.
Tuesday, 20 December 2011
Their support for the Gay Pride March in London was bad enough. Now, Christians who support the traditional Christian teaching on marriage have been branded 'evil' by Nick Lansley, Head of Reseach and Development for the Tesco Website. He wrote: “I’m also campaigning against evil Christians (that’s not all Christians, just bad ones) who think that gay people should not lead happy lives and get married to their same-sex partners.”
The Iona wwwsite carries the story.
I have written to Philip Clarke, the CE, explaining why.
H/t Fr Ray Blake
Monday, 19 December 2011
He made the claim on a Radio 4 Today programme interview/debate, and has substantiated on his blog.
It is a long post and well worth reading, but the summary is this:
So where does this leave doctors? Let me sum it up:
1.There is no evidence that continuing with an unwanted pregnancy poses any greater risk to a pregnant woman’s mental health than an abortion does and yet 98% of abortions are authorised on these grounds
2.The doctors who are authorising these abortions are not therefore doing so ‘in good faith’
3.These abortions are therefore unlawful under the Abortion Act 1967 and Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and those doctors who are carrying them out are committing a criminal offence
4.Those doctors who are authorising them are knowingly and wilfully making false statements on legal documents and are thereby committing an offence under the Perjury Act 1911
5.These offences under the Abortion Act and Perjury Act both carry custodial sentences
His blog is generally worth a look, too. See, for example, his comments on the BBC and Gay issues...
H/t Blondpidge on Twitter.
They criticise the dating process, and in particular the withholding of data and the refusal to explore competing hypotheses.
They also raise several other problems with the medieval fake theory, which does not account for many of the unique qualities of the Shroud.
In short, the real science seems to suggest that there is no normal explanation for the creation of the image on the cloth, and certainly no likelihood that any medieval forger could possibly have created such an artefact: we couldn't even do it now with all the technology at our disposal.
H/t Protect the Pope
Until I researched it a bit, I had not realised that for hearts (and certain other vital organs) to be transplanted successfully, they must be taken from a living body, as they deteriorate beyond usefulness on death. And that in order to facilitate that, the medical profession has introduced the notion of ‘brain death’ to legitimise the practice.
This has disturbed many nurses and others, as they cannot believe that the donor is dead when his or her heart is beating, flesh is warm, and (in one case) when he put his arm around the nurse just before they were about to remove his heart.
So what do our medical professionals do? Inject a drug that paralyses the donor - and then proceed.
The parallels with the murderous assaults on the unborn in the womb are extraordinary: the start of life re-defined contrary to the evidence, the injection of tranquilisers or anaesthetics prior to the killing...
A good source of information is the Anscombe Centre (formerly the Linacre Centre). In their article on criteria for death, they comment on the problems with the (relatively) recent notion of 'brain death' as the determining criterion:
The Anscombe Centre's own view is that `brain death' protocols are insufficient for establishing the death of the body: we have become increasingly convinced by evidence suggesting that integrated bodily activity can continue after `brain death' has been diagnosed. There have been documented cases of `brain dead' patients maintaining bodily functions for months or even years: pregnant women have gone through pregnancy, children have grown up and passed through puberty, etc. 3 Moreover, it is well-known to transplant teams that heartbeating donors move when organs are taken, unless they are paralysed by drugs, and that their blood pressure goes up when the incision is made. It is worth noting that some anaesthetists recommend that the supposed `cadaver' be anaesthetised when his/her organs are retrieved. Most organ donors are unaware that their hearts may be beating when their organs are taken, and that they may be pink, warm, able to heal wounds, fight infections, respond to stimuli, etc.
(Link here, and see also their 'Definition of Death' comments)
In 2008 a government commissioned report, after studying a huge body of evidence, came to the 'wrong' conclusion that the consent of organ donors should be explicit not presumed: however, the political class did not want that answer, and are positioning themselves to ignore it. The BBC, of course, will be involved in a campaign to soften up public opinion.
We have another fight on our hands…
IMPORTANT UPDATE: here
Sunday, 18 December 2011
We know this one less well, as it is rarely said for the full week (depending, of course, on which day of the week Christmas is). This year we do get a full week's worth, so I hope it will be committed to memory with the others...
Arise we beseech thee O Lord in thy strength, and come in might to our aid; that by the work of thy grace, that good to which our sins are a sore hindrance may, in the fullness of thy forgiveness, speedily be vouchsafed to us.
He was also, of course, the first President of the Czech Republic.
I have not seen any of his plays, but following references to his work by Tom Stoppard (another writer whom I enjoy - in good health when last heard of...), I bought and read Sorry in 1982. It is actually two plays, both featuring a character Vanek who is at least semi-autobiographical (and was played in the Radio 3 productions by Harold Pinter, and on Play for Today by Michael Crawford). Some five years later, I also bought and read (but never saw) Largo Desolato and The Memorandum.
All of these are powerful and haunting dramatic works. His reputation as a writer was well-established - and rightly so - quite apart from his role as a dissident, and then a political leader.
Of his political contribution, I am not well-placed to judge, but he was clearly hugely important in the breaking of the communist tyranny in his country.
American Catholic carries an interesting speech by him here.
Remember him in your prayers.
Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine.
What we learn from experience depends on the kind of philosophy we bring to experience. It is therefore useless to appeal to experience before we have settled, as well as we can, the philosophical question.It seems particularly germane to the issues surrounding the humanity of humans before birth - as recent lengthy but not very illuminating comments on Bones' blog have witnessed...
Saturday, 17 December 2011
I refer to Russell Hoban.
Hoban was a highly skilled and highly original novelist and children's author. His best known adult novel is probably Riddley Walker, a haunting post-apocalyptic dystopian novel, written in a fallen English with searing intensity and profound insights into the human condition. Turtle Diary is a very gentle novel, made into a film with Ben Kingsley and Glenda Jackson, with a screenplay by Pinter (as an aside, I consider Pinter a far better screenwriter than playwright). Hoban's other novels are nearly always very rewarding, for his imaginative inventiveness and spare yet powerful use of language. A few should have an X Certificate...
His children's books include the wonderful Frances stories, the anarchic Tom and Captain Najork books, the delightful Twenty-Elephant Restaurant, and the very quirky Big John Turkle, Charlie Meadows et al. 'Bleak Outlo' is regularly quoted here, along with many other Hobanesque phrases. And then, of course, there was The Mouse and His Child, with the unforgettable Manny Rat.
I started with the claim that he was a greater writer than Hitchens. That is not to say that I think Hitchens a poor writer: he was, at his best, very entertaining and engaging. He was, of course, a man of strong prejudices and some very silly views; but as a writer, he knew his craft.
But I would stake a large wager that Hoban will be read and enjoyed by both adults and children long after Hitchens is forgotten.
The BBC report (linked above) quotes a Guardian interview in which he suggested that death would be a "good career move". He added: "People will say, 'yes, Hoban, he seems an interesting writer, let's look at him again'."
Which of them will have been more surprised to meet his Maker, I couldn't hazard a guess; but may God in His infinite goodness have mercy on both their souls, and may they rest in peace.
Friday, 16 December 2011
Part-time Pilgrim wrote:
What lies behind this is (I think) the idea - correct idea - that fulfilling your Sunday obligation is necessary to keep the third commandment but not sufficient. A more interesting question is: "What else should a Catholic do on Sunday to mark it as the Lord's day?"A great question!
We also go to Adoration and Benediction, once a month (that's all that's on offer). We also do 'Sunday Morning Religion' with the kids: typically reading and discussing a chapter of Sheed, Knox (Mons R, not the other chap) or something.
We abstain from work (and shopping of course), as best we can (though sometimes the kids remember urgent homework, and occasionally I have a work crisis that needs addressing before Monday, usually due to poor planning...) and often go for a family walk, and sometimes play games around the fire.
But other than that, we don't do a lot to differentiate. I'd be intrigued to hear what others do.
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
It includes, inter alia:
When teens are questioned about their last sexual encounter, more than half admit they did not use a condom. This will not come as a surprise to anyone who is aware of the insights this new century has brought us about adolescent brain development. Neither should we rush to increase the truckloads of free condoms delivered to our schools. Biology is saying the answer isn’t latex, the answer is time.Towards the end, she comments on National (US) guidelines on sexuality for teenagers:
Later, readers are advised, “It is up to you to determine how much risk you are willing to take.” And: “Many teens choose to be sexually active and many choose not to. You have the right to decide exactly what behaviors, if any, you are comfortable participating in.”
Imagine if a nutritionist taught your child: “There are many types of diets. A diet low in saturated fats, carbohydrates, and sugars helps prevent obesity and cardiac disease. Some kids try to keep a healthy diet, others don’t. You have the right to decide what to eat.”
I don’t think this approach would be well-received. Yet this is what passes as sex education in our country.
All of it is worth reading, so go and have a look.
H/t Challenge Team UK on Facebook
But this was terrible gender steroetyping, apparently; although, in fact, there were no security guards turning the girls away from the train sets (the only bit of Hamleys my wife remembers visiting as a child) or excluding boys from the Barbie aisle.
The campaign reflects the orthodoxy that masculine and feminine identities are largely social constructs. That is the belief that has driven the re-shaping of education in this country and the US for decades: removing all boy connotations from Maths and the Sciences, and all girl connotations from arts, humanities and cooking... And when that didn't work, disallowing choice, as the naughty children continued to choose the 'wrong' (ie gender typical) subjects when allowed to do so - as they still tend to do when allowed (eg at University level). So the praxis has had little effect on getting girls into maths and the sciences, as was the avowed intention. It may have had a huge unintended side-effect, one could reasonably argue, in turning large numbers of boys off a feminised education altogether (parallels with the feminisation of liturgy in the Catholic Church are of course wholly inappropriate and should not even be considered).
So the orthodoxy (despite the evidence, one could argue) is that gender stereotyping and other 'nurture' factors determine, or at least strongly influence, gender identity.
EXCEPT when it comes to homosexuality (and various other things in the LGBT morass). These are of course innate and immutable. There is no possibility that, for example, gay teachers, or gay parents, or gay text books will alter, influence or confuse the gender identity of kids, nor that gay people are in fact socially constructed to feel as they do. No, no, no... that way heresy lies...
Monday, 12 December 2011
Sunday, 11 December 2011
Bow down thine ear we beseech Thee O Lord to our prayer and by the brightness of thine Advent, lighten the darkness of our minds.(This is corrected from a version I mistyped on first posting it!)
Saturday, 10 December 2011
Friday, 9 December 2011
Tuesday, 6 December 2011
This week we celebrate another milestone as Antonia turns 21. So that’s it: officially grown up. The first of our children to emerge at the other end from our slightly odd approach to parenting (at least by modern standards). So it is interesting to look back.
Ant is currently at University, where she is studying Maths to Masters level, and looks set to get a first class degree. She is also enjoying a lively social and sporting life. She also practices her Faith with commitment and energy, including co-founding the University’s pro-Life prayer group. She has a non-Catholic boyfriend who is teased by his friends because his girlfriend doesn’t sleep with him. She found a summer job in her first year and was so valued by her employers that they have asked her back every subsequent summer, increasing her pay each time.
Whilst I am (as you will have realised) very proud of her, I am not mentioning these things to boast, but rather because they are unexpected outcomes – at least according to the popular wisdom of the current culture.
I remember when we moved house, when she was 15. The headmaster of her new school was worried on learning that we do not have a television in the house, for religious reasons. He was concerned that we were raising her in a way that would be over-protective, leave her lacking the common ground with her peers to form effective social relationships and so on. By the time she left she had been voted by her peers as the girl they would like to have as head girl, and the head, who has the final say, interviewed her and two others and appointed her.
I have been told that by encouraging her to be modest, I was raising her in ‘a noxious environment’, in which ‘expressing her sexuality’ was ‘bad.’ Yet strangely, she is a mature, confident, and outgoing young lady, able to interact with men and women on equal terms and to have a long-term boyfriend on her terms.
So I stand by our approach, which may be counter cultural, but is actually a time-honoured method, built on the wisdom of generations and particularly on Catholic belief and practice.
Here’s a few things we did as we brought her up that may be at variance with societal norms:
- We sat together as a family for our meals
- We went for walks together on a regular basis
- We didn’t have a TV
- We read to the smaller children every night – a book worth reading
- We allowed our kids to take a lot of risks (at the physical level) such as climbing trees, exploring the local countryside unsupervised, and taking up exciting hobbies and sports (rock climbing, sailing, etc)
- We didn’t allow our kids to hang around in shopping centres or go to sleep-overs or parties where we don’t know and trust the parents concerned
- We tried to ensure our kids have a lot of fun – more than their peers
- We didn’t buy them much stuff – consumer toys etc
- We encouraged them to pursue interests like music seriously
- We (their parents) love each other and are committed to staying together no matter what…
- We pray together every day
So I guess what I want to say is: dare to be different! It really can work!
Monday, 5 December 2011
- cause food poisoning, or
- harm your unborn baby