Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today on Kresta - May 20, 2010

Talking about the "things that matter most" on May 20

4:00 – Heroes for a Day
“I was sitting at home one day in 2004 when the phone rang. "Department of Homeland Security," said the voice on the other end of the line. "We have a question for you." If this sounds like the setup to a thriller, trust me, I know: I write them for a living. I thought this had to be a prank. But eventually it became clear that the caller was serious. Even without a fancy accent and an Aston Martin, I was being recruited for something called the Red Cell program, an unorthodox federal attempt to anticipate how, in the wake of 9/11, terrorists might next attack the U.S.” Brad Meltzer is here to tell us his story.

4:20 – Sinning Against the Union
“Catholic scholars say those who thwart labor unions commit mortal sin,” says the headline from Catholic News Service. It’s an accurate characterization of a statement released by a group called Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice. It’s certainly attention-grabbing, but is it sound moral analysis? Kevin Schmiesing says the answer is no. He’s not trained as a moral theologian, but he does know something about Catholic social teaching and will be here to apply elementary rules of logic, which he says is all he needs to poke some holes in the statement in question.

4:40 – Dialogue of Love: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic Ecumenist
The Dialogue of Love is written from the perspective of an evangelical Catholic Ecumenist. Raised Catholic, but having responded to the Gospel at L'Abri Fellowship in 1970, Eduardo J. Echeverria's journey took the paths of Reformed and then Anglo-Catholic Christianity on his way back to full communion with the Catholic Church in 1992. Engaging in ecumenical conversation as a committed Roman Catholic whose views have been shaped by, among others, Romano Guardini, John Paul II, and Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), the author discusses in an articulate, bracing, and constructive manner, the positions of representative thinkers in the Dutch neo-Calvinist tradition of Reformed Christianity: Herman Bavinck, G. C. Berkouwer, and Herman Dooyeweerd. Fundamental issues of ecclesiology, meaning and truth, sacramental theology, the relation between the Church and the world, nature and grace, and issues on the relation of faith and reason are examined with the aim of achieving clarification and understanding. Readers will experience ecumenical "Dialogue . . . not simply [as] an exchange of ideas," but also as "an 'exchange of gifts'," indeed, "a dialogue of love" (John Paul II).

5:00 – The Great Adventure Bible Timeline
The Great Adventure is a Catholic Bible learning system that makes the complex simple by teaching the story (the narrative) of the Bible. Every day, more and more people are encountering God's Word through the methods taught in The Great Adventure. Jeff Cavins developed The Great Adventure in 1984 when he realized that most people, despite their strong faith, did not grasp the big picture of the Bible. Though they knew selected stories, they were not able to connect them into a full narrative. His answer was to identify the books of the Bible that tell the story from beginning to end. By reading just these 14 narrative books, a chronological story emerges. Since the creation of The Bible Timeline, The Great Adventure has grown into a remarkable system designed to give the average Catholic a solid foundation for a lifetime of Bible reading. Parishes around the world are finding renewed faith and increased involvement among parishioners whose lives have been changed by this exciting study series. Jeff is here to discuss it.


  1. Obama's "punished with a baby."

    Paul Kengor's commentary (sponsored by and Ave Maria Radio), after the segment with Kevin Schmiesing, misrepresented Obama's "punished with a baby" statement.

    Obama made his awkward (to put it charitably) statement while he was discussing the need to educate children about STDs. He then combined the STDs with contraception. Kengor's commentary was about abortion. But Obama was not talking about abortion!

    Here's how Kengor characterizes what Obama said:

    "He told an audience that he'd hate to see his daughters get pregnant out of wedlock and be punished with a baby."

    Here's what Obama actually said:

    "When it comes specifically to HIV/AIDS, the most important prevention is education, which should include [applause] -- which should include abstinence only educa... -- should include abstinence education and teaching the children -- teaching children, you know, that sex is not something casual. But it should also include -- it should also include other, you know, information about contraception because, look, I've got two daughters, 9 years old and 6 years old. I'm going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at the age of 16. Now, so it doesn't make sense to not give them information. You still want to teach them the morals and the values to make good decisions."

    You can watch Obama say it on this YouTube video.

    Apparently, pro-life Catholics hear things and draw conclusions beyond what has been actually said. This will not do for people who claim to have the fullness of truth. On his show Threshold of Hope (7/14/09), Fr. Mitch Pacwa made the same error Kengor made. In response to a question from the audience, Fr. Pacwa said this: "Based on one thing I remember then Senator Obama saying; he said, 'I don't want my daughter to get punished if she gets pregnant, to get punished with a baby."

    That's not what Obama said! Obama did not say, "I don't want my daughter to be punished if she gets pregnant." The "mistake" Obama is talking about is the mistake of engaging in casual sexual activity. Fr. Pacwa either did sloppy research or he lied. The same goes for Paul Kengor.

    Actually, Obama's statement, albeit badly put, can be construed to be pro-life. Saying that his daughter could be "punished with a baby" means that his daughter would allow the baby to be born and then she would be stuck with the consequences.

    I know that Obama is very "pro-abortion" and feelings against him run high. But he did not imply that his daughters would get an abortion if they got pregnant! I sent an email about this at the time to Fr. Pacwa. I watched the next few episodes of Threshold of Hope, hoping he would apologize. If he did, I never saw it.

    This is wrong! The Ave Maria Radio audience (I'm sure some of whom expect accurate information) may now believe something that is false. And some, believing in the integrity of Ave Maria Radio, might even repeat this falsehood to others. Will Paul Kengor (or Ave Maria Radio) apologize?

  2. To the ave maria radio censors.You don't have to live in a third world country to experience censoring of opposing ideas.You people who promote freedom and oppose tyrany are just as bad.What are you so afraid of? Why do you censor posts of other catholics who disagree?I'm sure it will only get worse..rob

  3. Mauman,
    From your statement above, I don't think Paul Kengor or Fr. Mitch Pacwa are saying that President Obama's daughters would necessarily abort. Maybe I need to hear or read more of what they said but I don't think abortion was in view with the quotations you cite from Kengor, Pacwa or Obama.

    They object to his clumsy expression that a child conceived is a punishment for ignorance in the same way that an STD is a punishment... not for casual sex but for ignorance of contraceptives and, I suppose, using them properly. Condoms seem especially in view in light of his HIV/AIDS and STD statements.

    I know that Kengor and Pacwa would not regard a new life as a punishment even if conceived through ignorance. Does the president? I doubt it but Obama's insensitive language is consistent with the carelessness he has shown on this issue in the past.

    Does his statement presuppose that his daughters wouldn't have an abortion? Babies can't be a punishment if they're not born and they can't be babies if they are mere fetuses. so what did he mean?

    I suppose he was just sloppy. You've proposed an interesting twist. I think, however, that you are giving the statement more thought than he did.

    Back to what I believe to be your primary point: did either Paul or Fr. Mitch say that they thought the president was saying his daughters would abort? If so, I will take this to the next step.

  4. Al,
    I disagree. Look at it again. Obama talked about teaching his daughters "first of all about values and morals" and "that sex is not something casual." That doesn't sound like teaching them which condom is most effective. No. I think Obama is saying that if his daughters make the mistake of having casual sex, he wants them to have the knowledge of how not to get an STD or how not to get pregnant. Think Bristol Palin.

    Does Obama think the baby itself is punishment? Perhaps. More likely, he's thinking that his daughter's life will change dramatically -- raising a love child will be no piece of cake. He doesn't seem to regard his own children, Malia and Sasha, as punishments.

    You see Obama in the worst possible light -- almost as if he's an agent of Satan. I see him as just another liberal.

    Obama was not talking about abortion. But Paul Kengor and Father Mitch changed his words to make us think he was talking about abortion when he said "punished with a baby."

    You can hear Paul Kengor's commentary on the archive. It starts at time 00:37:44 on my QuickTime Player.

    Here's how Paul starts out:

    "November 2008 was poised to be a historic election for America, and nothing less than vital for a culture of life. The candidates were far from perfect -- aren't we all? But when it came to life issues, the contrast was grim. Barack Obama rated a perfect zero from National Right to Life, and a flawless 100% from NARAL, the National Abortion Rights Action League. As a U.S. senator Obama cosponsored the Freedom of Choice Act. As a state senator he repeatedly rejected legislation to provide health care to babies that survived abortion procedures. He told an audience that he'd hate to see his daughters get pregnant out of wedlock and be punished with a baby. John McCain, by contrast, was pro-life. And his running mate, Sarah Palin, couldn't have been stronger."

    Paul goes on to say that the election would decide the long term make up of the Supreme Court, either causing the reversal of Roe v. Wade, or insuring it for another 35 years. "Roe v. Wade's survival could mean another 50 million aborted babies. The election was a matter of life and death."

    Paul then says that Catholics could have made the difference (1 in 4 voters were Catholic), but 53% of them voted for Obama. Now, Paul says, we bear the consequences: the reversal of the Mexico City Policy, two Supreme Court picks (both abortion advocates), and the possibility of a third pick.

    Paul was talking about abortion.

  5. Now on to Father Mitch. You can hear what he said on Threshold of Hope (7/14/2009) by going to the EWTN audio archive. (Click here to listen to that show. Be patient. It takes some time to load.) The question from the audience member begins at time 00:41:37 on my QuickTime Player. He asks Father Mitch: "My question also refers to the Notre Dame speech of President Obama. He [Obama] mentioned the Golden Rule. And I would like you to explain how that applies to abortion."

    Father Mitch's response:

    "The Golden Rule is something that our lord Jesus said, and people quote, from the Sermon on the Mount -- do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And in fact, one of my problems -- I was just discussing this with a person dealing with some Catholics who are so called pro-choice in the sense they are against abortion themselves, but they don't want to take that right from somebody else. That's how they put it. Now, application of the Golden Rule: I don't know how Mr. Obama does it, but having watched an ultrasound of an abortion in which a knife takes off a baby's arms and legs and crushes the skull -- I don't want anybody to do that to me. Nor do I want to do that to anybody else. So, by the Golden Rule standard, don't do that to anybody. As a matter of fact, I don't even want -- in the case of rape -- I don't want them to do that to the perpetrator of the rape. That wouldn't be right. To take a chain saw and cut off his arms and legs? And crush his skull? I don't want them to do that. But don't do it to the innocent baby who just is an innocent bystander -- happens to get conceived and born! You don't do it to them. So, that would be the application I would make. But, you know, based on one thing I remember then Senator Obama saying; he said, 'I don't want my daughter to get punished if she gets pregnant, to get punished with a baby. So he would say that having a baby would be a punishment. You know, it's not. Again, it might be a double victimhood, but it's not a punishment. And you don't say, 'I won't let her get punished because I don't want to be punished with it. That's not the right application. Remember what it is you are doing with such an act, and that you do apply the Golden Rule. And you show charity to that child who is as much a victim -- in a different way -- but is still a victim. Even of a rape or incest situation -- those worst case scenarios that politicians of both parties in this country say, 'Well, we should allow it in those cases.' No you shouldn't. It's not right. It's not right to punish babies. So that would be my application."

    Father Mitch was talking about abortion.

    Both Paul Kengor and Father Mitch changed the words to make it sound as though Obama would want to see his daughters get an abortion if they got pregnant. I understand the intense animosity toward Obama and the eagerness to use the "punished with a baby" comment against him. But it's wrong to change what he said. That's bearing false witness. There's plenty of other stuff out there to use against him: his statements about abortion, his voting record, and noting the kind of people who back him. It's really tempting to use the "punished with a baby" sound bite, but it can't be used to criticize Obama on abortion.

  6. Mauman,
    I just spent a half hour working on this and pooofff. A dump file which I can't find was created.

    1. I remain unconvinced of the offense
    2. The parallels between punishment by delivery of a baby or by delivery of a disease indicates that the president is almost begging to be misunderstood.
    3. The mistake which brings punishment is not merely casual sex; it is uncontracepted illicit sex.
    4. If antiobiotics can resolve one of the punishments, is abortion the remedy for the next.
    5. I don't think so but a person who can so cavalierly refer to unborn as punishment on a par with an STD, is vulnerable to the charge that he lacks commitments which would prevent him from lapsing into convenient abortion.

    This probably won't satisfy you. What I wrote earlier was much better. I fell like the fisher whose big one got away. Sorry but I've got to quite to get a gift for my father's 82nd birthday.

    Talk soon,

  7. Al,
    I agree with you on one point. I'm not satisfied with your interpretation. I still prefer mine. Your complicated and strained analysis, in contrast to my simple and straightforward explanation, confirms my judgement. I'm not jumping through hoops to find Obama's true intent.

    If I read you correctly, you are implying that Obama is a libertine, even with regard to the behavior of his own daughters. Hence, the only reason they would be punished with a baby or an STD would be their ignorance of effective safeguards. If that's true, he's a really bad father.

    Look at what you have done in your two comments. You saw Obama's reference to the prevention of STDs and conception -- condoms came to mind. God hates condoms; Satan loves them.

    On the other hand, you did not see Obama's reference to values and morals. God loves values and morals; Satan hates them.

    See what you're doing? I think Paul Kengor and Father Mitch did the same thing.

    I hope your father likes his birthday gift. But are you really going to find something decent at one o'clock in the morning?

  8. Mauman,
    I found 4 documentaries for my father at one o'clock and was able to get them overnighted to him today.

    Go back and listen to Obama. What is the mistake that is being referred to?

  9. Shopping on the internet? I didn't think of that. I'm sure your father will enjoy his documentaries.

    To determine what Obama meant by "mistake," let's look at the close-up context. He said, "I'm going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake ... "

    Obama didn't spell out what he meant by values and morals. So we'll have to speculate. I suppose it's possible that he believes fornication is always morally wrong. But I rather doubt that. I think when it comes to sexuality he's more comfortable in the wishy-washy realm of values.

    Earlier, Obama had said that "sex is not something casual." He seems to be saying, at minimum, that sex is not for kids. So the "mistake" Obama is referring to, about his daughters, is the mistake of engaging in sexual activity when they're not yet ready for it.

    Clearly, Obama does not agree with the Church's teachings on sexuality (contraception and homosexuality, for instance). But by mentioning values and morals, he seems to have some notion that sex can't be completely severed from morality. I get the impression that he looks down on the hook-up culture. On the other hand, does he think fornication within a serious long term relationship is morally wrong? I can't say for sure, but I doubt it.

    During the last 2008 presidential debate with John McCain, Obama said: "But there surely is some common ground when both those who believe in choice and those who are opposed to abortion can come together and say, 'We should try to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing appropriate education to our youth, communicating that sexuality is sacred and that they should not be engaged in cavalier activity, and providing options for adoption, and helping single mothers if they want to choose to keep the baby.' "

    Maybe someone out there knows more about Obama's views on sexual morality. Perhaps someone has read his book Dreams from My Father. Does he give any clues in there?

    We have ventured away from my original point. (I guess gossiping about Barack Obama is kind of fun.) Obama was not talking about abortion when he made the "punished with a baby" comment. Yet both Paul Kengor and Father Mitch changed his words to make it sound like he was. That's not right.