Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
February 24th, 2009

eHARMONY CAVES

I’m fit to be tied.

Dr. Neil Clark Warren, a clinical psychologist with a Divinity degree, author of Falling in Love for All the Right Reasons, started the very successful dating service, eHarmony.com, because he knew from experience that many marriages failed because people did not really know each other before they married. He came up with a series of questions for men and women to answer in order to learn if they might be compatible before they even started dating.

Along came Eric McKinley, a gay man, who thought the site should work for him. He told the Pasadena Weekly, “So I went to their website but couldn’t pass the initial screen. There was no option for man seeking man.”  What to do? Why sue, of course!

How dare eHarmony cater only to heterosexuals!  eHarmony does not accept married applicants, and rejects 16% of those who take their patented personality test as “poor marriage prospects.” It is totally reasonable to think a gay person might not be a good marriage prospect for a person of the opposite sex.  Nevertheless, in 2005 McKinley filed suit against eHarmony for violating New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. And what did eHarmony do? Instead of going to trial, they settled! Read the rest of this entry »

January 15th, 2009

IS THERE A RIGHT WAY?

The genius of Shakespeare has Hamlet describing moral relativism in a few well-chosen words: “There is nothing either good or bad, But thinking makes it so.” In moral relativism,  nothing is absolutely good or bad. In moral relativism, there is only my good, or your good.  Good is not seen as rooted in human nature but varies with the times and the cultural milieu and the Zogby poll and who is in power.

On the other hand, our forefathers felt there were unalienable rights (or goods), among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, given to us by our creator.  Taking innocent life (murder) was always wrong. Enslaving human beings or maltreating them was always wrong. Hitler, a moral relativist, thought executing Jews, gypsies, Poles, the disabled, “useless eaters,” and various others was beneficial to the nation.  Rights came from the hand of the dictator, not from God.

The new pope, Benedict XVI, has lost no time in pointing out the danger of moral relativism.  It is getting so that it is hard to come up with anything that is still believed to be wrong by most people. We used to have right and wrong, truth and goodness.  Now we have political correctness and tolerance for everything and anything.

Child molestation is still generally considered bad though there are homosexual groups pressing for a lowering of the age of consent.  Another group will happily teach our children various ways in which they can pleasure each other sexually short of sexual intercourse.  They call it “outercourse” (and actually promote it as a kind of “abstinence!”) We know our kids are learning well  when we hear of the oral sex that is going on in grade school and on the school bus. Read the rest of this entry »

January 2nd, 2009

MORTIMER J. ADLER, CATHOLIC

Mortimer Adler, (December 28, 1902 – June 28, 2001) professor, educator, author, once claimed to be the most highly paid philosopher in the world. That may well be true as he was a long time professor at the University of Chicago, a popular lecturer and teacher, and author of over 50 books. He first burst into public consciousness with his best-seller non-fiction book, How to Read a Book, in 1940. His last book, Adler’s Philosophical Dictionary, was published in 1995.

I first met Dr. Adler at the University of Chicago when he and Milton Mayer were teaching a course on the Great Books. Unregistered students were allowed to sit in during the classes and enjoy the interaction as Adler and Mayer sat at the head of a long rectangular table with registered students seated all around it. I kept attending because I found the discussions fascinating and I could enjoy them without fear that I would be called on. My interest must have been obvious because at one point a note was sent from the head of the table to me, seated off to one side. It read: “Why are you here?” Under that I wrote: “Trite as it may seem, I’m seeking the truth” and sent the note back on its way.

That little incident seems to what led to my being invited to work for Mr. Adler as the Syntopicon was being put together. The Syntopicon was an index to the 102 ideas in the 54 volume set of The Great Books of the Western World, the first edition published in 1952.(Here is a link to our picture in LIFE magazine on 1/26/48.) The job certainly was nothing I applied for–I did not  know there was such an opening or even that such a thing was  happening.   (See my previous post on evolution.)

I soon married and started having children but still followed Adler’s career with interest. He was fond of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas and there was talk, even then, in the 1940’s, about his being seen praying in a Catholic church.  I learned he was accused of converting students to Catholicism because he taught St. Thomas’ Summa Theologica and Jews and Protestants were turning Catholic. He preferred to blame this on his friend Dr. Herbert Schwartz, a Jew who also had converted to Catholicism. Read the rest of this entry »

January 1st, 2009

A BEAUTIFUL GIFT

I forward this magnificent rendition of O Holy Night with Josh Groban to celebrate His birth and the birth of my first born on this date 60 years ago.

(Actually Wendy was born on December 30, but I had trouble uploading the video.  Thank you, Johnny.)  So consider it also a New Year’s gift.  Blessings for 2009 to all who read this — and all who don’t!

December 30th, 2008

OF GOD, EYES, AND EVOLUTION

[Back in the late  1940’s I worked for philosopher Mortimer Adler on the Syntopicon, an index to the ideas in the (then) 54 volume set of The Great Books of the Western World.  As my field was the biological sciences, I was assigned to index  the biological works of Aristotle, Hippocrates,  Harvey, Galen, and Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species and The Descent of Man.   I have written before about the evolution of my thoughts on evolution.   As my thinking became more critical over the years, I wrote the following reflection on Darwin’s work.]

OF GOD, EYES, AND EVOLUTION

Consider the eye on the tail of the peacock.  Technically known as an ocellus, it is a thing of awesome beauty, an intensely blue center surrounded by iridescent concentric colored circles, to be enjoyed many times over as the peacock raises and displays his plumage.  It seems to have no purpose but to please the observer.  Darwin called the peacock the most splendid of living birds.  He writes: “That these ornaments should have been formed through the selection of many successive variations, not one of which was originally intended to produce the ball-and-socket effect, seems as incredible as that one of Raphael’s Madonnas should have been formed by the selection of chance daubs of paint made by a long succession of artists, not one of whom intended at first to draw the human figure.”

Obviously, even Darwin had trouble in believing in his theory of natural selection!

Nevertheless, natural selection and sexual selection as described by Darwin DO operate by chance.  A brighter color or more beautiful design appears by happenstance, (or, as we would say today, by some quirk of a gene) and appeals to the peahen so that the more elegant peacock pleases her most and wins the opportunity to pass along his genes to the next generation.  Darwin attributes to the peahen an apparent delight in beauty, which he also considers strange.  Unlike the cock, the peahen remains drab, her coloring protecting her as she nests and cares for her young.

The peahen choosing the more beautiful male is an example of sexual selection.  The survival of the hen and chicks because their drabness hides them from predators would be considered an example of natural selection.

Consider again the eye on the tail of the peacock and the feather on which it is found.  A feather consists of a central shaft with barbs on each side equipped with barbules which turn bear barbicels which interlock, velcro-fashion, with similar structures on the adjacent barb, producing a continuous vane.  No person comes along and paints the ocellus on this plume after it has formed.  No, each individual barb must “know how” to produce the right colors in the right place to achieve the overall ball-in-socket effect.  It boggles the mind that there are those who would believe this marvelous arrangement of minutiae to produce an ocellus came about as the result of the random activity of atoms.

It likewise boggles the mind to think that your eye (the kind in your head) with eyelid, lens, pupil, iris, retina and optic nerve gradually evolved over millenia.  Any of these parts without the other would be useless and would not have persisted by natural selection.  Evolutionists need a scenario that will demonstrate how all the parts of a functional eye could come about AT THE SAME TIME just by accident.  Darwin also had trouble with this, stating “the belief that an organ so perfect as the eye could have been formed by natural selection is enough to stagger anyone…”

Many genetic mutations are harmful, causing disease or death, others are neutral, but among random mutations one might occasionally occur which would seem to be advantageous.  It has been estimated that only 1 out of 10,000 mutations would be considered beneficial.  We know that natural selection, or artificial selection by man, can, within a species, cause considerable diversity–witness Mendel’s peas, various breeds of dogs, the development of drug-resistant bacteria.  No one really has any problem accepting such diversification within a species.  This  is known as “micro-evolution” and has been well demonstrated.

Natural selection and geographical factors have allowed populations within species to drift in different directions and mutate to such an extent that they can no longer interbreed, producing a subspecies or even a new species.  Micro-evolution is a scientific fact, only resulting in minor changes.  Frogs always give rise to frogs, and dogs to dogs.  No matter how much one radiates fruit flies to get them to mutate, they always give rise to fruit flies.  Sometimes they are very sad specimens but they are undoubtedly fruit flies.

It is MACRO-evolution that presents the problem.  Macro-evolution extrapolates from the known variations within a species to the theory that all diversity in life – plants, reptiles, birds, fish, mammals – all evolved in similar fashion from some prehistoric archetype.  This is another problem that Darwin himself puzzled over.  He noted the lack of evidence for transitional forms between classes in the progression from single-celled organisms to man, stating, “Why, if species have descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms?  Why is not all nature in confusion instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined?”  Darwin died expecting the fossil proof of his theory would be forthcoming.

It was not.  Evolution is a theory being increasingly questioned by a number of honest scientists.  In 1980 Darwin’s theory that one species evolved into another over billions of years was rejected by a conference in Chicago of  “160 of the world’s top paleontologists, anatomists, evolutional geneticists and developmental biologists.” (Newsweek, 11/3/80).  According to Newsweek , “Evidence from the fossil record now points overwhelmingly away from the classical Darwinism which most Americans learned in high school; that new species evolve out of existing ones by the gradual accumulation of small changes, each of which helps the organism survive and compete in the environment.”  Because of the embarrassing absence of fossil evidence they supported instead “punctuated equilibria” which says that evolutionary changes occurred by quantum leaps, so fast that they didn’t leave any fossil record!  The foremost advocates of punctuated equilibria, Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould, recognized that species in the geological record remain remarkably constant over millions of years, showing little appreciable change.  In Eight Little Piggies (1993) Gould writes, “Nothing much happens for most of the time when evidence abounds; everything happens in largely unrecorded geological moments.”

As recently as 1995, Eldredge in Reinventing Darwin again notes the absence in the fossil record of gradual evolution as described by Darwin and posits, rather, evolution in brief spurts, during periods of major habitat disruption, with eons of stasis in between.  These brief spurts, from the viewpoint of paleontologist Eldredge, may take from five to fifty thousand years, as compared to the millions of years when evolution apparently goes nowhere.

This new theory of punctuated equilibria does not alter the fact that Gould and Eldredge still believe in evolution and the fossil evidence is still missing.  One commentator went so far as to describe their theory of punctuated equilibria as “evolution by jerks!”

In Darwin on Trial by Philip Johnson (1991) he writes, “If evolution means the gradual change of one kind of organism into another kind, the outstanding characteristic of the fossil record is the absence of evidence for evolution.  Darwinists can always explain away the sudden appearance of new species by saying that the transitional intermediates were for some reason not fossilized.  But stasis – the consistent absence of fundamental directional change – is positively documented.  It is also the norm and not the exception.”

Some years ago I worked on the Great Books em>Syntopicon, indexing the biological works contained therein,  including those of Darwin.  I found Darwin to be a brilliant and honest man whose prodigious wealth of data was very convincing.  It is only in recent years that my thinking became more critical and I realized that accepting Darwin’s Origin of Species required jettisoning other pretty well established physical laws.

The second law of thermodynamics states that all things naturally, over time, degenerate from order into disorder–into randomness– unless there is input from outside the system.  Not so long ago the idea of spontaneous generation was ridiculed by scientists.  Now we are supposed to accept, as an article of faith (because there is no proof) that life arose spontaneously in some prebiotic broth and evolved ever upward by random acts of atoms.  Evolutionists theorize that somehow organic compounds formed, merged, and discovered how to replicate themselves, producing the first living cell.  Never mind that scientists, with all their technology, have not

been able to achieve purposely what is supposed to have occurred long ago by chance.  No amount of chemical soup zapping has yet produced a single living organism (i.e., one that can grow and reproduce.)  In the famous Miller-Urey experiments in the 1950’s the best they could come up with were amino acids.  Nevertheless, what was once deemed impossible must now be considered, given enough time, to be not only possible but probable.  As one writer put it, we are asked to believe that “falling up a ladder” can be achieved if it is just done “rungwise.”

The basic cell design of all living things is the same, but even the cell of the tiniest bacterium is, according to molecular biologist Michael Denton, “a veritable microminiaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up altogether of one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the nonliving world.”    Moreover, the oldest rocks known to paleontology have failed to reveal the kind of organic compounds that would have been needed to form the first living cell.  There is, therefore, no evidence whatsoever of the required primeval super soup.  All is conjecture, yet biology texts and the popular press write about the spontaneous development of the first living cell from some inorganic muddy puddle as a fait accompli.  And even though they don’t know how life happened to develop on earth, they send expensive gadgets to outer space to see if the conditions are right for it to happen there, too!

David Raup, renowned paleontologist, wrote in Science in 1981: “A large number of well-trained scientists outside of evolutionary biology and paleontology have unfortunately gotten the idea that the fossil record is far more Darwinian than it is.  This probably comes from the oversimplification inevitable in secondary sources:  low-level textbooks, semi-popular articles, and so on.  Also, there is probably some wishful thinking involved.  In the years after Darwin, his advocates hoped to find predictable progressions.  In general these have not been found, yet the optimism died hard, and some pure fantasy has crept into textbooks…”

Francis Crick, biochemist and Nobel prize-winning co-discoverer of DNA, in 1981, wrote: “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to be satisfied to get it going.”  Modern molecular biology has not been kind to evolutionary theory – the missing links – the necessary intermediate classes – are just as missing on the molecular level as on the morphological level.  Molecular biology has only served to emphasize the marked discontinuity between life and non-life, and between major natural
divisions.

The above-mentioned molecular biologist, Dr. Michael Denton, created quite a stir in 1985 with his book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.  In what I consider his most fascinating chapter, “The Failure of Homology,” he deals with one of evolution’s strongest arguments, the structural similarities between different organisms.  As the Encyclopedia Brittanica puts it:  “…the bones of the upper arm, forearm, wrist, hand and fingers all…can be matched, bone for bone, in rat, dog, horse, bat, mole, porpoise or man.  The example is all the more telling because the bones have become modified in adaptation to different modes of life but have retained the same fundamental plan of structure, inherited from a common ancestor.” (Emphasis added).

Denton describes an amazing lack of that same homology at the embryological level.  “There is no question that, because of the great dissimilarity of the early stages of embryogenesis in the different vertebrate classes, organs and structures considered homologous in adult vertebrates cannot be traced back to homologous cells or regions in the earliest stages of embryogenesis.  In other words, homologous structures are arrived at by different developmental routes.”  And, “the evolutionary basis of homology is perhaps more severely damaged by the discovery that apparently homologous structures are specified by quite different genes in different species.”  Darwin describes homology as the “relationship between parts which results from their development from corresponding embryonic parts.”  According to British embryologist, Gavin de Beer, that is exactly what homology is not.  This is a truly an astounding–and unexpected–finding!

Die-hard Darwinian, Richard Dawkins, in his 1995 effort, River Out of Eden, does not acknowledge Denton’s book nor does he attempt to answer most of his objections to macro-evolutionary theory.  He does try to deal with the difficulty of accepting chance as the cause of a structure as beautiful and complex as the human eye.  He accuses those who think that it must have been designed by a superior intelligence of the fallacy of the “Argument from Personal Incredulity.”  This argument states “I cannot even begin to imagine the steps by which this eye could have evolved from an eyeless being and therefore I don’t believe it could have happened.”

Evolution by gradual changes through natural selection might be accepted today beyond any reasonable doubt, even without the fossil evidence of intermediates, if it could be shown that the great divisions of nature could at least theoretically have been bridged by inventing a really convincing series of hypothetical and fully functional transitional forms.  (After all, time has passed and things do decay–there’s that second law of thermodynamics again!)  However, this has not been achieved.   A theory that asks us to believe that order proceeds from disorder, that design arises without a designer, and doesn’t show us how, requires an unwarranted leap of faith.

Dawkins offers a computer model by Swedish scientists, Dan Nilsson and Susanne Pelger (1994) suggesting the steps by which a simple eye consisting of a flat retina atop a flat pigment layer covered by a protective transparent layer could conceivably have evolved into a vertebrate “camera” eye in less than half a million years.  They assume that each generation experienced a beneficial mutation which was passed on.  I cannot blame them for starting with a simple three-layer eye. Producing the scenario by which an eye evolved from some eyeless ancestor would certainly have been a much more difficult accomplishment.  A computer model showing how a more advanced eye could evolve from a simpler eye simply does not cut the mustard.

It is posited that the first birds evolved from prehistoric reptiles and that reptilian scales are precursors of the feathers of birds.  Just imagining the gradations and mutations necessary to convert a scale into an aerodynamically plausible feather, with functional intermediates, is well nigh impossible.

According the Albert Einstein, “the probability of life originating from accidents is comparable to the probability of the unabridged dictionary resulting from an explosion in the printing shop.”  In like manner, British astronomer and agnostic, Sir Fred Hoyle, after years of study concluded, “The probability of evolution [explaining creation] is equal to the probability that a tornado sweeping through a junk yard might assemble a Boeing 747.”

The missing links are still just that, despite years of search.  The Piltdown man is a proven fraud, the tooth of Nebraska man turned out to be from a pig, Neanderthal man and Cro-Magnon man seem to belong to our species, the fossils of Peking man have disappeared.   Missing links between man and monkey burst upon the scene, a tooth here and a jawbone there, are interpreted and re-interpreted, and then fade away as they fail to fill the bill.  Evolutionists have a hypothesis to confirm and tend to put their own spin on archeological findings.

The logical consequence of Darwinism is that the universe operates on blind chance, without design or purpose.  Evolution is a theory scrambling for facts because the alternative is considered unacceptable.  What is the alternative?  It is that God created each creature according to its kind, as we read in Genesis.

In recent years geneticists seem to be moving toward the creationists’ belief that all races of mankind are the progeny of an original man and woman.  Mitochondrial Eve, postulated as the mother of all known humans, has been making the news.  By studying mitochondrial DNA which is passed on from mother to daughter geneticists have concluded that all women are descended from one woman who lived over 50,000 years ago.  It is not supposed that there was only one woman way back then, however; rather it is presumed there were many but the progeny of the others died out along the way.   Similarly, they have deduced that all men had a common male ancestor by studying genetic mutations of the Y chromosome which is passed only from father to son.

Scripture states, and it is de fide, that God played a direct role in the fashioning of a man and woman from whom all humankind is descended.  (Gen.3:20, Gen.5, Tobit 8:6, Rom. 5:12-19, 1 Cor. 15:21-22).  It is necessary to accept at least this much “creationism” or all of Christianity, with its original sin and need for redemption, falls by the wayside.

They say that the genetic information in each human cell would fill thousands of volumes.  This occurred by chance?  I would as soon believe that a Pentium chip occurred as a result of the waves lapping on the sand through the ages.  Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History, said in 1981, “All my life I had been duped into taking evolution as revealed truth.”  Dr D.N.S. Watson writes, “The theory of evolution is universally accepted not because it can be proven true but because the only alternative of special creation (by God) is clearly incredible.”

Douglas Futuyama in Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution states: “Some shrink from the conclusion that the human species was not designed, has no purpose, and is the product of more mechanical mechanisms–but this seems to be the message of evolution.”  As Dawkins put it in his recent book, “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”   In essence, then, evolution is more of a philosophy of life than an explanation of it.

Over 50 years ago Pope Pius XI, writing about communism, stated: “According to this doctrine there is in the world only one reality, matter, the blind forces of which evolve into plant, animal and man….In such a doctrine, as is evident, there is no room for the idea of God; there is no difference between matter and spirit, between soul and body; there is neither survival of the soul after death nor any hope in a future life.”  In the same encyclical on atheistic communism he describes what he calls a “conspiracy of silence” on the part of the secular press.   It is apparent that not much has changed.

To go beyond randomness means to accept God.   The above-mentioned Francis Crick was so awed by the difficulty of explaining the origin of life on earth that he postulated beings from another planet sending us primitive life forms to begin the whole evolutional spiral.  Sure this is a Deus ex machina solution – which is what creationists have been saying all along.

In 1987 a Supreme Court decision barred public schools from teaching “creation science” but permitted the discussion of “scientifically valid” alternatives to evolution.   In 1989 Of Pandas and People by Charles Thaxton, Percival Davis, and Dean Kenyon, all biologists and Ph.D.s, presented arguments for intelligent design, only to be attacked by the ACLU for writing a “stealth” book seeking to introduce God into the curriculum without mentioning his name.  Kenyon, who had previously published a book describing the evolution of a living cell from inorganic chemicals, found himself no longer able to support that hypothesis and began to point out to his students its weakness.  He was rewarded for his integrity by being suspended from San Francisco State University.  To dare to suggest that the politically correct theory of evolution might be questioned and was still a theory was equivalent to a thought crime.  He has since been reluctantly reinstated. (A video clip of Dean Kenyon explaining his change in viewpoint is available.)

Evolutionists try to disparage critics of Darwinism by calling them religious fanatics who refuse to look at the scientific data, preferring blind faith.  There are, however, an ever increasing number of scientists who are looking at the scientific data and rocking the evolutionary boat. Secular humanism, communism, modernism NEED evolution’s philosophy to counteract biblical Christianity.  There is no other alternative and they will not accept God.

Raphael’s Madonna, an unabridged dictionary, a Boeing 747, a Pentium chip–these speak of the intelligence of man behind the material thing.  The human mind has not yet begun to plumb the secrets of an atom, a single living cell, the ocellus of the peacock, the eye of man, the genetic code, the expanding universe.  These speak of an intelligence far beyond ours.  We stand in awe of their beauty and their complexity.  We seek to reveal their patterns and discover their laws, and we do no doubt such laws exist.  Some we have learned; some we haven’t.  Is there a designer, a lawgiver?

Chance or God?  Evolution or revelation?

~~~

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Apostles’ Creed.

November 30th, 2008

A MUST READ

In my humble opinion, Aimee Milburn Cooper’s recent blogpost on Historical Christian says it all and should be required reading for the universe.  In a few simple unpretentious paragraphs she has laid it all out – the sexual dysfunction of our age.  It is so commonsense, so biblical, so Humanae Vitae, so crystal clear!   I want it to be understood by all preachers, teachers,  and parents everywhere.    I lay awake last night wondering how I could get Dr. Laura Schlessinger to read it on her radio program, how to get Oprah to believe it and tell it to everyone, how to be sure Sarah Palin has it down pat should she ever have the chance to explain from a bully pulpit why the sexual revolution was a dumb idea.

I haven’t figured out how to do any of those things but feel that at least I have to give Aimee’s post a shout out. Truth has a quiet engaging beauty and will prevail in the end, but I sometimes wish it spoke more loudly.  That’s why there’s this one old lady with a blog nobody reads crying:  LISTEN UP, WORLD! Go here.

November 24th, 2008

A CRY FOR MERCY

Janis Clark sings for the unborn.

No comment necessary. Just weep.

Lyrics:

Listen, they are weeping, little ones who died in darkness
They plead for us and intercede for us
Their blood is on our hands as we lay hold of the lie –
They have to die.

Small voices cry, they whisper “Mercy”
To him whose blood alone heals our hearts of stone
Listen, they are singing now, “Mercy” – they are our hope
Pia Jesu, pia Jesu, miserere (Gentle Jesus, gentle Jesus, have mercy)
Pia Jesu, pia Jesu, miserere
Pia Jesu, pia Jesu, miserere, miserere, pia Jesu.

~~~

I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40

October 15th, 2008

MIRACLES 1 AND 2

When John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you he who is to come or shall we look for another?”  And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see, the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.”  Matthew 11: 2-5

I doubt very much if the message of Jesus would have caught on like it did were it not for the signs and wonders that he performed. To this day the signs and wonders that accompany the “good news” (or gospel) give witness to the divinity of the Christ. For example, since Mary appeared to Bernadette in 1858 and the spring sprang up where none had been before, millions have visited the Grotto in Lourdes, France, to bathe in the healing waters. Many have claimed healings of one sort or another and the Lourdes Medical Bureau of doctors was formed to investigate claims of miracles. Only 68 so far have been called medically inexplicable. Because of the difficulty of proving a healing of any sort, healings are not my favorite sort of miracle. Real though they may be, they require testimonies and medical documents, and there always remains the question of mind over matter — a psychosomatic healing that can be labeled natural rather than supernatural.

In his book Miracles C. S. Lewis writes: “I use the word Miracle to mean an interference with Nature by Read the rest of this entry »

October 8th, 2008

YOU CAN BREAST-FEED YOUR BABY

When this article as published way back in 1955, breast-feeding was a lost art.  Most babies were bottle-fed and I knew of no woman  who nursed her baby.   Breastfeeding was at that time counter-cultural.  The first La Leche League group was formed in l958 and their The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding was written to fill a very real need.   Is is not amazing that a normal, natural, motherly action could be so supplanted by a contrived, bothersome, inferior method of baby feeding?   It makes one wonder about the common sense of womankind.

The swing is back to normal mothering but individual mothers still need encouragement to persevere, especially when they know there is a workable alternative if they run into problems.   If you, like me, have no friend, relative, or mother to cheer you on, I think the following should be helpful. Reading it over some fifty years later, there are some sentences that I might want to tweak a bit, but human nature and human physiology do not change significantly in a mere half-century. Much is written nowadays about the importance of finding time for one-on-one relationships. Much is said about the need for busy mothers to find a little time to relax so that they don’t get so overwhelmed.  Just settle down, with a baby at the breast, and  let the oxytocin flow — it’s like a little oasis!

YOU CAN NURSE YOUR BABY

I once heard of a woman who filled up so much after her baby was born that she couldn’t buy a bra big enough to fit her.  But she couldn’t nurse her baby.   She had “that blue milk, you know.”  And every time I think of her I grieve a little for the baby that would have thrived on that abundance of blue milk — for it cannot be disputed that human milk is the best baby food.  True, it is bluer than cow’s milk — and for good reason.  It has less protein, less fat, and more sugar than cow’s milk.  Its composition is different because it is intended for a baby, not a calf.  By the time cow’s milk is properly doctored up with a formula (water and some form of sugar are added to cow’s milk for no other reason than to make it more like breast milk) it, too, has a bluish-white color. Read the rest of this entry »

September 29th, 2008

DISCIPLINE — with LOVE

The following was published as LOVE AND PUNISH in Marriage: The Magazine of Catholic Family Living in September, 1962, and later re-published as a Marriage Pamphlet titled  Discipline–with Love. Human nature has not changed much in the interim.

DISCIPLINE — WITH LOVE

Should children be punished?  Why?  When?  How?  One mother, when invited to attend a lecture by a child guidance expert commented:  “I don’t need any lecture.  My kids toe the line or they get the strap.”

Another mother retrieved her two-year-old from the middle of the street and, setting him down on the curb, gave him a smart whack on his well-padded rear.  The child cried for only a minute but the mother’s whole day was ruined.  “I shouldn’t have hit him,” she fretted.  “It’s a terrible thing to strike a child.”

These two women have radically different ideas about discipline.  One considers corporal punishment a cure-all, another considers it an abomination.  One spanks often, confident she is right; another seldom, and then guiltily.  Is there a happy medium?  What have the experts to say? Read the rest of this entry »