“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. …The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilized state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”
–Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 1871 p. 193
“If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that “all men are created equal;” and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man’s making a slave of another.”
–Abraham Lincoln, Peoria speech 1854
These are my thoughts about the HHS mandate. I should have explained this a long time ago, but I was too tired emotionally. I suppose this is too late, but here it is now.
The HHS mandate, under the new Obamacare system, mandates all employers (including religious charities and religious schools) to pay for their employees birth control pills (which, by the way, not only stop conception, but also can stop implantation of an already-conceived zygote, causing it to lack nutrients and die– hence the term “abortifacients”).
A month’s supply of birth control pills (depending on the brand) is anywhere between $10-$50.
That is between $0.33 to $1.67 a day.
In other words, if you are a young law student at a Catholic university, don’t buy a muffin with your daily Starbucks latte and voila! you can afford it.
And if you happen to be working for a Catholic Charity or Catholic School, pack a lunch just one day per week, and there is your pill money.
It isn’t a crushing expense.
And for those of you concerned about child-bearing women working at Catholic organizations who can’t afford this $0.33 to $1.67 per day, and who would very much rather swallow a pill of artificial hormones on a daily basis than purchase a couple condoms a week for three quarters at the gas station…..for those women, you can start a charity of Birth Control for Childbearing Employees at Religious Organizations Fund. I am sure you will have more than enough money for it—there are probably only a couple thousand such women in such straits (a lot of people don’t devote their life career to a Religious Organization whose core doctrines they disagree with), and I’m sure you could get a bulk discount with the Pharmaceutical companies.
Note in the poster above, there is nothing about what the Republicans are doing….but about what Religious Folks believe. That is our real crime (not the American Inquisition we were trying really hard to set up in 2013 to force everyone to become Catholic) but just our alleged beliefs themselves.
(both photos courtesy of “Americans Against the Tea Party” facebook group, I came across these in my newsfeed as a friend of mine kindly posts them for my enlightenment)
Now…think about this carefully. Republicans weren’t trying to pass a law to stop them from getting Birth Control. Nobody was trying to outlaw Birth Control in the 2012 election. We are just asking to be left alone. For those of us who choose (there is no Inquisition–you can always leave!) to join or remain in religious organizations…we are simply asking to run our religious organization (not the entire country) by our own religious principles: we just want to be left alone.
Think about those posters. What it really means is this: the government has the right to force those in (voluntary) religious organizations to violate their own principles because those religious people are jerks. So the gov’t is here to make them stop acting like jerks–for that unforgivable crime of “imposing” their beliefs by having the cheek to say that some things are wrong.
In other words….they want the Catholic Church to say “uncle”, because the people who say birth control is wrong are all nasty-hateful-intolerant-judging people. They want the Church, those judgmental medievals who say women shouldn’t be taking these pills, to fund birth control pills, and in so doing, condone it. It is a matter of principle, for both sides. It is an ideological statement for both sides. They want the Catholic Church to say to the gov’t, “OK, you call the shots about this, yes, birth control is valid medical care and not a moral issue, and hey, we are funding it now because you said so, so it is OK.”
After all, the Ancient Roman Gov’t did the same thing. They were VERY tolerant (most of the time), you could be a Christian all you wanted—just make sure you mutter a few words in front of the Official about cursing your gods, and light a pinch of incense for the genius-spirit of the Emperor. That is all. You can go home and worship your little heart out, to any gods you choose. We just want you to go through this little motion–that the Roman State (in its spiritualized form–the genius of the Emperor) gets the first little token of respect–that it matters more than your other gods, whatever they are.
Makes perfect sense after all. If we are going to build our tolerant, multi-ethnic society, we need a basis for society, and that basis is to make sure everyone acknowledges the Authority of the State first and foremost, before any of their wacky foreign gods. Just make sure they will curse their gods if the State asks them to, to show which one matters more. That’s all. And most religions, most eastern mystery cults, were fine with this.
But the Christians weren’t. Because it was a matter of principle. Because in Christianity, our words are sacred, our ‘little ritual actions’ are sacred….and we must not compromise our allegiance–first and foremost to our beautiful Christ, that incarnate god-man who knows us each by name. He isn’t an impersonal god, but a personal one: hence we value our personal integrity, because it matters to Him.
That’s why a bunch of them were eaten by lions. They had just declared their personal religion, their private god, as more important than the Authority of the State. Therefore, they are a menace to Society. Hence, the need for the lions.
I know, most Christians went along. Most did the little pinch of incense. Only some of them died, the minority who could not be intimidated into backing down (That is the story of the human race….e.g. the French Resistance under the Nazis, or the White Rose…they were always the minority).
But the ones who did go along…there is a cost in that. We feel it keenly. A compromise of our own integrity. Life is not as much worth living, when you are not free to do what your conscience requires of you. Now—to materialists and pragmatists, they think we are over-reacting over nothing.
Most human societies throughout history have thought that, from second-century Classical Rome to fifteenth-century Spain to twentieth-century Soviet Russia.
But this is America. America was different.
This was the place of Religious Freedom. Where “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…”
This was a country where the Government did NOT dictate to people what they could or could not think, where the government did not dictate the ideology of the people. Now….everybody has a “religion”, an “ideology”, a “worldview”, a sense of what is acceptable and inacceptable, etc. But unlike the aforementioned human societies, this was the place where we could live in freedom before our God, serving Him according to our own conscience. Living in peace and raising our children according to our own conscience.
And so this HHS mandate is….a huge break from that. And it is intentional. It is a matter of principle for the Obama Administration and they mean it. The rhetoric of “Freedom of Worship” has replaced “Freedom of Religion”, because “worship”, unlike “religion”, is not a way of life. We can think any warm fuzzies in our heart….but we do not have the right to live it. Period.
(After all, even second-century Rome had “freedom of worship”…and so did the USSR. You just had to hike out to the woods to do it.).
And so this ‘minor’ issue isn’t so minor after all. If the American people accept this (as they appear to be doing), then this is the end of what America stood for these past 236 years. On principle, we will be no different from all those other countries, where religious dissidents are persecuted and killed on a regular basis (not that the media covers it much, so we don’t have to think about it….)
It will be full-scale surgical abortion next. I know that sounds far-fetched…but it has already happened. Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York, in 2008, was going to force Catholic Hospitals to perform surgical abortions or shut down. Seriously–he was pressing for it the week before he suddenly resigned because of the Emperors Club VIP scandal. If it wasn’t for the call-girl ring leaking to the press…it would have gone through–in 2008. So no, the Catholic organizations have a reason to be concerned. They are the first on the radar. But they are not the last on it.
This will also be the beginning of…something else. Something progressive. Progressive countries like Sweden and Germany who still seize children and place them in foster care for no other reason that their parents audaciously pulled them out of the Government School System and wanted to teach them at home (in both cases, the parents were religious conservatives).
After all, “education is too important to be in the hands of parents.” (–a real quote from an Ivy Leaguer I knew). I suppose their ideological formation is too (we need the Young Pioneers). And so many things are “too important”…..
Look how they frame the debate: apparently religious people are trying to run a theocracy, we are banning birth control. This facebook ad, which popped up on my wall a couple weeks ago, puts it this way:
But what is really going on here? Is this really the Church trying to run the State….or the State planning to run the Church?
I think it is pretty clear. It is this Progressive administration that does not believe in the separation of Church and State. (It shouldn’t be that surprising—progressives never have believed in it). And that is why we are seeing the end of an American ideal, and the beginning of a brave new world.
So I’ve been wandering around historic houston hall for the past hour and a half as my dear twin has been “saying goodbye” to her fiance in the aforementioned span of time. And they are still saying goodbye. I’m sitting by the two computers in the center of Houston Hall. LOST is playing loudly in the Bistro, as well as some off-color modern commercials. I’m reading the old plaques. They make me…reflect.
The nineteenth century was a special time. Of course, it produced millions of idealistic young men willing to get shot to death in rotting trenches and barbed wire for the sake of some romantic nationalist myths. That world ended 1914-1918. But it was a poignant world.
Apparently, men, college BOYS (there were very few women at Penn in those days), college boys, were erecting plaques like the following (that I am staring at at this moment)
“In memory of JOHN BORLAND THAYER class of 1882 ‘College. Scholar. Athlete. Publicist. Vice-president of the Pennsylvania Railroad who died April 15th 1912 in the wreck of the steamship “Titanic” a martyr to his sense of duty he will ever live in our hearts as one who gave his life that others might be saved. This Tablet is erected by his classmates.
It probably dates from 1912 or 1913. It’s a huge bronze plaque, I’d say four feet wide and three feet tall. There’s a palm front and a big seal of the university of Penn on it, “Literae Sine Moribus Vanae” (learning without mores/morals is emptiness/vanity) on a ribbon encircling seven books, “Grammatica, Rhetorica, Logica, Mathematica, Philosophia, Astronomia, Theologia” in ascending order, with “Theologia” at the top.
It was a different world. I wonder if anyone would get such a plaque today. No, today you get it for making a billion dollars and donating half of it to Penn. College boys at Penn’s highest aspiration is not longer to be a warm body that drowns so that another warm body can sit on the lifeboat. (you drown as one less warm body, something any brainless 17 year old highschool dropout could’ve done–no, we will succeed, use our great skills, make a really big difference…)
But they weren’t so savvy and utilitarian then as we are now.
Here’s another example of sentimentalism, engraved on the plaques under the big bell in Houston near bodek lounge:
PLEDGE OF LOYALTY UPON THIS OLD BELL I PLEDGE MY ALLEGIANCE TO THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA AND I PLEDGE TO DEVOTE MY LOYALTY TO ITS BEST INTERESTS AT ALL TIMES
PRAYER OF STRENGTH WE, WHO HAVE SOLEMNLY PLEDGED OUR LOYALTY TO THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA, PRAY ALMIGHTY GOD FOR STRENGTH TO PERFORM FAITHFULLY THE OBLIGATIONS WE HAVE ASSUMED.
It’s written in a large capital letters, with “U”s written as “V”s. Trying to mimic the monument engravings of the ancient Romans, I guess. As I read this, I kept searching for some tongue in cheek melodrama, some ‘wink wink, dear old penn’ flippancy, but no, it was dead serious, praying to “Almighty God”, and worded in the style of the outdated books of common prayer in all their old Anglican stuffiness.
And here’s this to notch up the sentimentality, on the other side of the bell is another plaque:
1872-1914 FOR FORTY TWO YEARS THIS BELL RANG OUT THE HOURS FOR PENNSYLVANIAN MEN THE CLOCK TOWER OF COLLEGE HALL HAVING BEEN REMOVED THE BELL IS PLACED HERE IN THE HEART OF THE UNIVERSITY AS A SYMBOL OF CONSTANCY AND LOYALTY
The sentiment of it, nostalgia for the bell, the “heart” of the university, “constancy” “loyalty…
Those college boys were unabashedly romantic, sentimentally loyal to “sense of duty”, or to their university, to their national glory–naively, irrationally so. “LOYALTY” almost seemed a word to roll of the tongue, tasting it with relish, as Penn freshman now relish the f-word.
It was a different world. Before the poison gas, the barbed wire no man’s land, the trenches, world war one (Gas boys gas…pro patria mori)…and also the sexual revolution, the divorce boom (the exchange of lifelong oaths for easily terminated contracts), etc. etc.
No, the world is sophisticated now. I’ve walked past a few dozen pink signs today, boldly proclaiming facts about the biological details of copulation, genital mutilation, the neo-freudian explanation for lipstick, and bodily functions.
The world is so sophisticated now. We’re not so naive anymore.