Archive for United States of America

Can a Catholic Be a Democrat?

Copyright © 2012 by P. A. Ritzer

31 October 2012

At this opportune time of renewal, with the commencement of the Year of Faith followed by the 2012 general election, it seems a fitting time to ask:

Can a Catholic be a Democrat?

Honestly, I don’t see how.

Consider the Obama Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that Catholic employers–along with any other private employer with a moral and/or religious objection to providing such coverage–will now be required to provide coverage for contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilizations. This injunction steps up the Democratic Party’s attack against the most fundamental and deeply held convictions of faithful Catholics concerning those unalienable rights enumerated in the founding of this nation: Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. And it does so in a direct and arrogant violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution, the introduction and anchor of the Bill of Rights. It is, therefore, an attack not only on Catholics and other people of conscience, but upon the very fabric of the United States of America, and thus on all Americans. And it is just one manifestation of the tyrannical contradiction to the Constitution and to Christianity that is Obamacare.

It is instructive to remember that this recent contraception debate was inaugurated by a shameless display of the collusion we have come to expect between the Old Establishment Media (OEM) and the Democratic Party. Just thirteen days before Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced the HHS mandate, on 7 January 2012 at a debate of Republicans vying to be their party’s nominee for the presidency, George Stephanopoulos, of ABC News, proved himself a useful tool of the Obama Administration and the Democrats by blindsiding Governor Mitt Romney with a question from way out in left field. “Governor Romney,” he asked, “do you believe that states have the right to ban contraception, or is that trumped by a constitutional right to privacy?”

The ever-nimble Romney, after shaking his head in bewilderment, responded, “George, this is an unusual topic that you’re raising, but . . . states have a right to ban contraception?” Then he entered into an oft-times amusing back and forth with Stephanopoulos and added, “The idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do, that no state wants to do, and asking me whether they can do it or not is kind of a silly thing, I think.” But Stephanopoulus bore the laughter and the calls to move on–taking his arrows for the cause–and pressed the question, because it served the political purpose of the Obama Administration and the progressive agenda by introducing the question of contraception availability.

The Democrats followed up the Stephanopoulos question and the Sebelius announcement with the bizarre testimony of Sandra Fluke at a Nancy Pelosi “congressional panel,” or “unofficial congressional committee,” as it has been called. Ms. Fluke testified before this panel after she was added too late by the Democrats to the roster of those who would testify at the hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, entitled “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?” Ms. Fluke–a “reproductive justice” activist (no kidding) and thirty-year-old, third-year law student at Georgetown University, who could expect to earn $160,000-a-year starting salary upon graduation–then testified about how she and others have “suffered” “burdens” due to “lack of contraceptive coverage” at the “Jesuit” and “Catholic” Georgetown. Suffered? Suffered? Perhaps Ms. Fluke could gain a better understanding of the meaning of the word were she to depart the ivory tower and spend some time working with Mother Teresa’s nuns in Calcutta. By doing so, she might gain an understanding of a good many other things that her privileged education has apparently failed to equip her to understand.

And I have to confess feeling a profound sadness as I watched Ms. Fluke, after turning a girlish smile back upon the other members of her Georgetown Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ), looking more fifteen than thirty years old, argue, in her introduction to momentary celebrity, for the “right” to make others pay for the means to make herself a sexual plaything to be used, if not preyed upon, by opportunistic men. It brings to mind how often it is the intellectuals who rush to subject themselves to tyranny and drag the rest of us with them. Was it Solzhenitsyn who wrote how prisoners condemned to the gulag by Stalin wept in sorrow at his death?

Regardless, all of this was designed to support the attack on the Catholic Church and other conscientious organizations in the form of the HHS mandate and Obamacare in general. And it should have been expected, given the Democratic Party’s commitment to abortion and all that goes with it. Abortion remains the litmus test for the Democratic Party in choosing candidates for federal office, especially for life-long judicial appointments.

Abortion is not some new liberating right for women but an ancient barbaric practice perpetrated against women to keep them in subjugation to men, often enough a desperate attempt to undo a man’s fornication, adultery, rape, or incest by callously and brutally erasing the life of his own child with little or no regard for the life of the mother. As long as a man could obliterate the evidence of his misuse, an innocent human life, he could do as he wished with a woman. It should be no surprise that the first to argue “for the general morality and legality of induced abortion” in modern Western culture was the Marquis de Sade, “who repeatedly inflicted sexual violence upon nonconsenting women and girls he deemed socially inferior,” in the words of Mary Krane Derr, Rachel MacNair, and Linda Naranjo-Huebl in ProLife Feminism: Yesterday and Today.

The Catholic Church, since its founding by Jesus of Nazareth on Peter and the Apostles in the mid 30s AD, has championed the sanctity of human life and the dignity of women. The Church has thus ever held abortion and infanticide to be intrinsically evil. The Church Fathers in the early centuries of Christianity wrote plainly against these barbarities, both widely practiced throughout the Roman Empire in which the Church was established and grew.

And the Fathers of the Church were joined by the Mothers of the Women’s Movement in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries in recognizing the common, savage, and widely legal practice of abortion for what it was and condemning it. Serrin M. Foster, president of Feminists for Life, summarizes the work of these pioneers of the women’s rights movement in her article, “The Feminist Case Against Abortion.” She points back to Mary Wollstonecraft in England in 1792 as the first in the tradition carried on by Feminists for Life and quotes her as condemning those who would “either destroy the embryo in the womb or cast it off when born.” Wollstonecraft claimed, “Nature in everything deserves respect, and those who violate her laws seldom violate them with impunity.” Wollstonecraft died after delivering her daughter Mary, who would become Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and write perhaps the most famous work depicting a violation of the laws of nature and what ensues, Frankenstein.

Ms. Foster writes, “Without known exception, the early feminists condemned abortion in the strongest terms.” She shares a quote from Sarah Norton, “the first woman to successfully argue admission to Cornell University,” who wrote in 1870:

Child murderers practice their profession without let or hindrance, and open infant butcheries unquestioned, establishing themselves with an impunity that is not allowed to the slaughterers of cattle. . . . Is there no remedy for this ante-natal murder? . . . Perhaps there will come a day when . . . an unmarried mother will not be despised because of her motherhood . . . and when the right of the unborn to be born will not be denied or interfered with.

In 1868, suffragist and novelist Eleanor Kirk said:

Why doesn’t somebody ask, what has become of the babies? Ask thousands of physicians, male and female, who have been engaged in their work of destruction for years. Physicians who have graduated from our first medical colleges, physicians with high sounding diplomas, whose elegant equipage stand in front of Fifth Avenue mansions, who pocket a big fee and a little bundle of flesh at the same time, and nobody’s the wiser! Not even the husband in the host of instances.

What will become of the babies—did you ask—and you? Can you not see that the idea is to educate women that they may be self-reliant, self-sustaining, self-respected? . . . The first Revolution must be female suffrage. . . . God speed the time for the sake of the babies. Little ones will then be welcome.

The Revolution, the radical feminist newspaper of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, referred to abortion as “child murder,” and Stanton considered it infanticide. Stanton, the organizer of the first women’s convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, said, “When we consider that women have been treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.” And Anthony, who had no children of her own, once said: “Sweeter even than to have had the joy of caring for children of my own has it been to me to help bring about a better state of things for mothers generally, so their unborn little ones could not be willed away from them.” She also said:

Guilty? Yes. No matter what the motive, love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh, thrice guilty is he who, for selfish gratification, heedless of her prayers, indifferent to her fate, drove her to the desperation that impelled her to the crime!

And the early American champions of women’s rights had something else in common. They were Republicans. As Susan B. Anthony wrote in a letter to Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1872, “I shall work for the Republican party and call on all women to join me, precisely . . . for what that party has done and promises to do for women, nothing more, nothing less.” And at her request, in 1878, California Republican Senator A. A. Sargent introduced what would become the Nineteenth Amendment to the U. S. Congress, acknowledging women’s right to vote. It was defeated four times by the Democrat-controlled Senate until the Republicans regained control of Congress and passed the Equal Suffrage Amendment in 1919. (Prior to its passage, several suffragettes were jailed for protesting in front of the White House of Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, and in jail were subjected to abuse which included being force fed until vomiting.) Twelve states, all Republican, had already recognized women’s right to vote before that.

But it should be no surprise that the Republican Party was the party of equal rights for women. Those women had fought as Republicans for freedom and full rights for slaves. Thus, the Republican Party ended slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment, and followed with full citizenship rights and the right to vote for African Americans with the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, and then passed the Civil Rights Acts of the 1860s and 1870s, and continued to craft civil-rights legislation up into the 1960s. Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Charles Sumner, Ulysses S. Grant, Susan B. Anthony, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Hiram Rhodes Revels, Blanche Bruce, Ida B. Wells, Mary Terrell, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Everett Dirksen are just a few of the Republican civil-rights heroes.

And who opposed them. Who was it against whom the Republicans had to fight to secure and protect these rights? Democrats. For an excellent synopsis of this history see Kevin D. Williamson’s “The Party of Civil Rights.”

It was Democrats who owned slaves, who sought to extend slavery into the territories, who declared Dred Scott and other African Americans property and not citizens, who seceded from the Union, who created and ran the Ku Klux Klan (the “terrorist arm of the Democratic Party”), who created black codes and Jim Crow, who segregated federal office buildings and the military, who lynched white and black Republicans–not only in the South but in the North as well, for instance, after the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation when Democrat mobs lynched a dozen black men in New York and burned an orphanage and did untold damage to the property of African Americans. It was Democrats who fought against anti-lynching laws. It was Democrats who turned water cannons and dogs on civil-rights protestors, who blocked doorways of schools so that black students could not attend. (It was also Democrats who sent the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears, and who interned Americans of Japanese, German, and Italian descent without due process during World War II.) The great enemies of civil rights for African Americans were Democrats, to name just a few: Andrew Jackson, John Calhoun, Stephen Douglas, Preston Brooks, Roger B. Taney, Jefferson Davis, Andrew Johnson, Nathan Bedford Forrest, James Vardaman, Ben Tillman, Woodrow Wilson, Tom Watson, Hugo Black, George Wallace, William A. Gayle, Bull Connor, Richard B. Russell, Orval Faubus, Robert C. Byrd.

Finally Democrats recognized that, after over a century of fighting against every attempt of Republicans to secure the civil rights of African Americans, more and more of those African Americans were voting (thanks to the work of the Republicans). Thus, there might be some political benefit for Democrats in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Therefore, Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson–who while in the Congress had consistently opposed anti-lynching laws and had done his best as leader in the Senate to weaken the Republican Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960, when his Democrats did not have the votes to stop them–signed the bill into law. This was not the moment when the United States finally faced and shed itself of its inherent racism, it was the moment when the United States witnessed the congenitally racist Democratic Party recognize that overt racism was no longer politically expedient, that it might no longer serve its interests.

Lest we too quickly attribute this seeming conversion to some burst of repentant altruism, we might recall that President Johson told southern governors that his Great Society would “have them niggers voting Democratic for the next two hundred years,” signaling the new servitude of dependency. Democrats had filibustered the 1964 bill, too, as they had done with the 1957 and 1960 Civil Rights Acts. Among those Democrats opposing civil rights bills were Al Gore, Sr., and J. William Fullbright, mentor of Bill Clinton. And it is a flagrant lie that Democrats and Republicans switched places on race thereafter. Of the twenty-one Democrats who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, only one, Strom Thurmond, ever switched to the Republican Party. The other twenty remained life-long Democrats, and their constituencies remained Democratic until the 1980s and 1990s. The Democrats cannot honestly rob the Republicans of their rich civil-rights history, nor can they erase their own despicable one. The Republicans fought the good fight against bitter Democratic opposition when the going was tough; the Democrats slithered over to take a ride on the side of the good fight when it appeared that continued opposition to it would prove injurious to their party’s raison d’etre: gaining and holding power.

And that despicable Democratic history of disenfranchisement and abuse of women, African Americans, American Indians, and other minorities (do not forget the anti-Catholicism seething in the party of the KKK) cannot be expunged for the sake of political expediency. Despite the revisionism rampant in the Old Establishment Media and the American public-education system–controlled by unions dependent on the Democratic Party which depends on them–what happened, happened. Denial cannot change that. Denial only serves to shield the Democratic Party from facing its demons and exorcising them. And thus the spirit remains, the spirit of the bully, the abuser, the disenfranchiser, the killer. And there yet remains one class of disenfranchised Americans on whom the Democratic Party can prey: the unborn. Who better than the most defenseless can the Democratic Party count on even more than slaves and Indians and women to never have a voice? Who is going to hear them when they cry out while being dismembered or burned or poisoned to death? Who better for the Democratic Party to bully this time than a victim whom no one can hear when she screams?

Nevertheless, though he could not hear it, one man saw the silent scream. That man, Dr. Bernard Nathanson, had organized the National Association for Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) in 1968, to strike down all the laws that the Women’s Movement, the churches, and others had struggled to have enacted over the centuries to protect women and children from abortion. He thought that by making abortion legal, it would make it safer. He was joined by Larry Lader, who had bought into the myth of overpopulation and thought the world needed fewer people. Lader tried to convince women that if they wanted to succeed in a man’s world, they must deny the awesome gift of fertility, of motherhood, and their very femininity. And to bring into the abortifier movement women like Betty Friedan, whose first edition of The Feminine Mystique in 1963 had said nothing about abortion, he lied. He invented statistics that indicated that thousands of women a year were dying because of illegal abortions.

Lader also realized that their abortion “revolution” would need a “villain,” as Dr. Nathanson wrote in Aborting America. And the most effective villain would be the Catholic hierarchy. That way they would not run the risk of generating sympathy for the villain, which could happen if it were a single person. And they were not running the risk of choosing too large a group, which would have been the case had they made all Catholics the villain. And they could still hope to win liberal Catholics to their side to serve as “valuable showpieces.” Lader made it clear that they needed to use women as the face of the movement, “And some blacks. Black women especially.” And he complained about black women being so slow to see how important the movement was to them.

Nathanson joined him in the lies. So by the time racism was beginning to lose its usefulness for the Democratic Party, with some Democrats deeming it expedient to support the Civil Rights Act of 1964, forces were at work to create a new class of the powerless against whom they could ally themselves.

Dr. Nathanson explained how he and the other abortifiers succeeded in legalizing abortion, in an address to the National Right to Life Convention in 1980, here quoted from Abortion: the Silent Holocaust by John Powell, S.J.:

There was only silence from the opposition. We fed a line of deceit, of dishonesty, of fabrication of statistics and figures; we coddled, caressed, and stroked the press. We cadged money from various sources and we, in one short year, succeeded in striking down the abortion laws of New York State and in one fell swoop established the city of New York as the abortion capital of the world. We were calling ourselves pro-abortionists and pro-choice. In fact what we were were abortifiers: those who like abortion.

Let me digress and speak for a moment on the question of “pro-choice,” as they euphemistically call themselves now. I reject that phrase, that euphemism. It is misleading. It is dishonest. . . . Of course, . . . abortion is not an ethical choice, . . . and therefore there is no such thing as pro-choice in abortions. With the striking down of the New York law, and following it, three years later, the Supreme Court’s infamous decision, we had effected a social revolution, the consequences of which have polluted this nation perhaps more profoundly than any single political act of its time in America. That act, permissive abortion, was and is a singular specimen of that special brand of twentieth-century madness.

In February of 1971, . . . I organized and ran the Center for Reproductive and Sexual Health. . . . It was the abortion clinic. . . . The clinic functioned on a twelve-hour day: 8 AM to midnight, 120 abortions a day, Sundays included. It was a $5-million-a-year business, a $5-million-a-year business! Think, think now how many handicapped children could be helped, how much cancer research could be done, how many operations of a decent sort could be carried out on poor people with that kind of money!

I was up to my knees and elbows in blood in that place. When I took over, there was a staff of thirty-five physicians who were really an incredible band of ruffians, bandits, rogues, and literally fugitives from the FBI. . . . I stayed there and ran that operation for nineteen months. In the words of Yeats, the great Irish poet, “The blood-dimmed tide is loosed and everywhere a ceremony of innocence was drowned.”

. . . Why did I change my mind? Well, to begin with, it was not from religious conviction, because . . . I am an atheist, quite frankly. . . . In any case, the change of mind began with the realization, the inescapable reality that the fetus, that embryo, is a person, is a protectable human life. The change also began on the basis of my own secular belief in the golden rule: If you would not have your own life taken away from you, you must not take someone else’s life.

The discussion . . . has been muddied by a resort to a particularly vicious brand of anti-Catholicism, as many of you know, in the press. There have been ongoing attempts to paint this movement [the Pro-Life movement] as a Catholic movement, and there have been almost heartbreaking lies and libel in the press on this score. If you ever substituted for the word Catholic, in many of these publications, the word Jewish or black, you would be immediately castigated. The press would destroy you. However, because the word Catholic is used, it appears to be allowable.

My opinion, my feeling, is this regarding the anti-Catholic issue and the religious issue: the anti-abortion conviction is no more a religious position than the civil rights issue was. . . .

[Here Dr. Nathanson quotes from his editorial published in 1974 in the New England Journal of Medicine, entitled “Deeper into Abortion.” . . .] “. . . I am deeply troubled by my own increasing certainty that I had, in fact, presided over sixty thousand deaths. There is no longer serious doubt in my mind that human life exists within the womb, from the very onset of pregnancy. . . . Life is an interdependent phenomenon for us all. It is a continuous spectrum that begins in the uterus and that ends at death. . . . Abortion must be seen as the interruption of a process which would otherwise have produced a citizen of the world. Denial of this reality is the crassest kind of moral evasiveness.”

.  .  .  .

This fight must go on to eradicate the evil of abortion in this land. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “No policy that does not rest on decent public opinion can be permanently maintained.”

What is our task? To make this country a place for decent people to live in! What is our end? To call an immediate halt to the senseless destruction of our greatest natural resource, our children! In closing, let me leave you with this admonition, again spoken in the words of the great Edmund Burke, but still as relevant and as important as it was two hundred years ago, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Yes, Dr. Nathanson had seen the silent scream. He had begun to film abortions with a camera inserted into the wombs of the mothers. What he saw erased any doubt about what abortion is. The film he made from what he had witnessed was entitled The Silent Scream. Republican President Ronald Reagan showed this film in the White House. (In contrast, Democratic President Woodrow Wilson had chosen, decades before, for the first showing of a film in the White House, Birth of a Nation, the racist, pro-Ku Klux Klan film that included intertitles drawn from Wilson’s own A History of the American People.)

Once such an evil is unleashed, after decades of Feminists fighting to contain and eliminate it, it takes ever more vicious and vile forms. And the Democrats are always there chin deep in it. When the House and Senate both overwhelmingly passed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban in the late 1990s, Democrat President Bill Clinton, not once but twice, vetoed the ban, keeping this heinous “procedure” legal. Let’s just consider what the procedure entails. The abortionist, guided by ultrasound, reaches into the womb and grabs the foot of a full-term baby and pulls–inverting the baby so that its feet are down–the baby out of the womb feet first except for the head. Then he punctures the base of the skull with a scissors and opens it to enlarge the hole. Then he inserts a suction tube and sucks out the baby’s brain. This collapses the head so it can be easily removed from the birth (death, in this instance) canal. What kind of people can do this? Finally in 2003, Republican President George W. Bush signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban into law.

But Democratic President Barack Obama goes even further than President Clinton. He argued against and voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act several times when he served on the Judiciary Committee and chaired the Health and Human Services Committee of the Illinois Senate. This act would have required that a child who survives an abortion be given the medical care he or she needs rather than be killed by the abortionist or be left to die unattended in a soiled-linen closet. Again: killed by the abortionist or be left to die unattended in a soiled-linen closet. What have we become that we can allow this? But why should we expect any better from President Obama, who said that if his daughters make a mistake, “I don’t want them to be punished with a baby.” The baby to be aborted would be his grandchild.

So the Democrats champion the violent cutting or tearing apart or poisoning of some 4000 babies a day in the United States of America, over 1 million a year, over 50 million since Roe v. Wade (a decision of the Supreme Court based in medieval “science,” not an act of a representative legislative body elected by the people.) And thus again Democrats champion disenfranchisement of the child, of the parents, of the grandparents. How consistent. And as for the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade, it is instructive to read Republican Abraham Lincoln’s comment in his First Inaugural Address about the Supreme Court in light of the Dred Scott decision:

If the policy of the government, upon vital questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions, the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.

Look at that last sentence: “the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.” We have seen decades of work to protect women and babies from abortifiers all wiped away in one fell swoop of “that eminent tribunal.”

But the Democrats are supposed to be “for the little guy.” Oh how impressive. The little guy, you mean like the fetus in the womb, or the embryo, or the zygote? Sorry, no. Then maybe women disenfranchised from the right to vote? Uh, no. Maybe slaves? No. Freedmen terrorized by Democrats? No. No. No.

So here is the inescapable question for any Catholic who votes for Democrats: What is the great good that the Democratic Party does, or even just stands for, that justifies supporting it when we know that the party is absolutely committed to the brutal killing of unborn children and the exploitation of their mothers to get the grisly work done? When we know that being pro-abortion is the litmus test for any Democrat serious about national office, for any justice to be nominated by Democrats to the bench? When we know the party’s dark history of discrimination and intimidation? When we know that the party attacks the Sacrament of Matrimony? When we know that its policies have contributed to the breakdown of the family, to the deterioration of public education? What is it?

Oh, I know. The Democratic Party takes care of the poor. Like Democratic President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, which has seen the redistribution of trillions of dollars over nearly fifty years and has not changed but has perpetuated the same percentage of people in poverty. It has kept people poor, kept them dependent on government, so that they vote for the party of big government, the Democratic Party. Don’t pay any attention to the fact that Republicans give far more of their personal incomes to help the poor and disadvantaged. Republicans voluntarily do so through organizations which make far more effective uses of their money without the incentive to keep people dependent on government so that they always vote for the Democratic Party. The Catholic Church and all of its many charitable organizations did not need the government or the Democratic Party to build and run its orphanages, hospitals, schools, and nursing homes according to its principles. And would that not be a threat to the big-government party, the Democratic Party? Might that explain the Obama HHS Mandate against Catholic and other institutions?

So, here’s the Republican approach: I take my money and give it to an organization that will help others according to the principles I believe in, and everyone else is free to do the same. Here’s the Democratic approach: I take other people’s money (taxes) and spend it in ways that often contradict the principles those people believe in. And this makes the Democrats more compassionate?

So the Democratic Party uses our tax dollars to support Planned Parenthood ($487.4 million in the last reported year 2009-2010), the largest abortion provider in the country, founded by the Democrat darling and racist eugenicist Margaret Sanger, who had a special enthusiasm for aborting black babies. (Sanger even addressed a meeting of the Lady’s Auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan, fully consistent with the racist history of the Democratic Party.) But don’t worry about Democratic funding of Planned Parenthood, because President Obama assures us that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms for poor women. Another Democrat lie. Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms; they commit abortions. And they make millions of dollars a year doing so. Here is one case in which the Democrats do not denounce making a profit. And Planned Parenthood also gave $12 million to re-elect President Obama. So, they get nearly $500 million a year from the Democratic government and donate $12 million of it back to re-elect the Democratic president. How . . . mutually beneficial.

Democrats also support international abortion programs through the United Nations and other organizations. Yes, President Obama, in 2009, with the support of Democrats in Congress, restored funding to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). And the UNFPA supports China’s brutal “‘one-child’ policy—complete with forced abortions, involuntary sterilization, kidnapping of ‘illegal’ children, and other brutal tactics” (“UN Slammed for Its Forced Abortions in China Using U.S. Funds” by Alex Newman in The New American). Let the meaning of those words sink in: “forced abortions, involuntary sterilization, kidnapping of ‘illegal’ children, and other brutal tactics.” How do decent people support this? How do decent people vote for the Democratic Party? the party of Vice-President Joe Biden who told the Chinese, “Your policy has been one which I fully understand–I’m not second-guessing–of one child per family.” 

And Democrats oppose attempts by Republicans even to pass parental consent laws. Why would any organization claiming to represent the best interests of children oppose legislation that would require parental consent for a minor to have an abortion committed against her and her baby? As has often been pointed out, minors cannot receive a Tylenol in school without parental consent, but they can have an abortion committed against them without it. They can be subjected to the treatment of someone who makes a lot of money to cut babies apart without the parents even knowing about it. That is crazy! Accordingly I wrote the following in a letter to the editor many years ago, regarding a parental consent bill:

Should this bill die, the message is clear: “We parents would rather not know when you, our children, are in crisis. We would rather not be bothered when you need us most; we would rather you turn to strangers. We would rather you suffer without our concern, our advice, our consolation, our support. In short, we would rather you suffer without our love.”

Often we hear from politicians on the right and the left that Americans are good people. No, we are not. We are baby killers. We are a nation of bullies who defy the laws of nature and morality and make the most defenseless pay for our irresponsibility with their lives. And we dismiss it with the antiseptic word abortion. There are those who personally perpetrate this crime against God, nature, children, and mothers and fathers. There are those who support and enable them. And then there are the rest of us who are implicated because we tolerate it. We allow it to continue. And the Democratic Party, with its representatives like President Obama, continually pushes for our deeper implication, for our deeper involvement, for our deeper complicity, supporting Planned Parenthood with our tax dollars, demanding that Catholic and other organizations provide “services” that contradict their deepest convictions.

And it should be no surprise that Hollywood provides some of President Obama’s greatest supporters, if not groupies. Hollywood helps create the culture that feeds the abortion maw. For decades now Hollywood has glamorized unchastity, promiscuity, pornography in its productions and flooded the culture with them to supercharge the temptation to be sexually active outside of marriage. Thus, even young people who value chastity find it ever more difficult to remain chaste. And if they fail, the abortion industry is there to prey upon them. Yes, folks, abortion is big business, and it banks upon the corruption of our children. And who better to contribute to that than Hollywood. Just take a look at the wreck that Hollywood makes of the lives of its stars. Consider all the mugshots of the glamorous on the magazine covers in the grocery-store checkout line. It is easy to suspect that “misery loves company” is the rationale behind much of the trash that Hollywood produces. And those who produce it are predominantly Democrats.

Long recognizing the irrationality behind Catholics and other good people voting for Democrats, I finally came to the conclusion that for these people the Democrats are the good guys. They are the cowboys in the white hats or the home-town team for some reason. Maybe it is because their parents were Democrats, or the union took the place of religion for them. Who knows. Regardless, for them, despite the fact that the Republican Party was founded as an anti-slavery party, that it fought to free the slaves, to recognize the citizenship of the freedmen, to recognize and protect their right to vote, to protect their civil rights, to fight for and win the vote for women, to fight for protection of the unborn and their mothers, all the time being opposed by the Democratic Party, the Democrats are the good guys. Go figure.

And there is another aspect to all of that. The Republicans stood up for the disenfranchised, the scorned, the little guy, when it was difficult, out of principle. The Democrats jumped on board when it was expedient. That is why I believe that if the day ever comes when it is expedient for the Democrats to protect the unborn–say when once again a majority of voters open their eyes to the evil of abortion–then the Democrats will be the greatest champions of the unborn ever, and all their sordid history to the contrary will be buried and forgotten and a new “revised” history invented for them by the accommodating press and education system. There is precedent. How convenient.

Abraham Lincoln may offer the best example of a Republican taking a principled stand, in difficult circumstances, on behalf of the disenfranchised, the scorned. And he recognized that the Civil War was a punishment inflicted by a just God upon those who had grievously violated the rights of other human beings through the practice of slavery. In his Second Inaugural Address, he said:

The Almighty has his own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him?

Fondly do we hope–fervently do we pray–that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn by the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

If we suppose that the Civil War was the woe due to those by whom the offense of American slavery came, what might we suppose shall be the woe due to those by whom the offense of abortion came? Might there be more woe than the loss of some 50 million human beings and all their potential? Might there be more woe than the wounds and scars inflicted on the souls and bodies of surviving mothers? Might there be more woe than the collective guilt of a people who allows this crime to continue? Might there be more woe than the callousness that afflicts such a people? Might there be more woe than the violence that festers and breaks out in a culture that embraces abortion? God have mercy.

So, it’s not “the economy, stupid.” The number one issue facing us today, and always, is not the economy, or jobs, or national defense, or foreign policy, or anything else. The number one issue is Life, the first of the unalienable rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence at this nation’s founding. All other issues fall under and depend upon that one. “Choose life, that you and your descendants may live” (Dt 30:19). We cannot expect that God will bless our nation if we disdain chastity, kill babies, and exploit mothers.

But you’re a good Democrat, so you’re pro-choice. What is that? Pro-choice on what: ice cream? soda pop? theft? torture? genocide? slavery? Did you know that your Democratic Party was pro-choice on slavery? They called it “popular sovereignty.” You want slavery, you can have it. How open minded. They used the terminology to push the Kansas-Nebraska Act that undid the Missouri Compromise and allowed slavery to extend into the territories. It is what spurred the anti-slavery Republican Party into being.

And now the Democratic Party is pro-choice again. On what? On killing babies. Oh, there’s the open-minded party again. You want to enslave and treat other human beings as animals, or you want to kill defenseless unborn children, the Democrat Party says that’s your choice. How magnanimous, how wonderful. It reminds me that Ronald Reagan once said that he noticed how all those who were pro-abortion had already been born. Don’t give us pro-choice. Name it. Admit it. The choice is killing babies and exploiting mothers. Own it, Democrats. I remember a friend telling me that when she attended Wellesley College, the pro-choice position was such a sham. She said the pro-choicers did not support any choice; they supported abortion. If a pregnant woman had an abortion, they were all supportive and understanding. If a pregnant woman chose not to kill her baby, they derided her.

The euphemisms abound. Years ago, I was walking through Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A young woman with a clipboard, one of three or four such women in the square, tentatively approached me and asked if I would sign a petition to keep abortion safe and legal. I said no and continued on. When I passed through the square on my returning home, she approached me again and asked me to sign it again. I asked her, “Can you make it safe for the baby?” Her face dropped, her arms sagged limp to her sides, and she slumped back to the older and more hardened leader of her group. When this leader heard what I had asked the young woman, she and other women throughout the square erupted in vitriolic condemnations hurled at my back as I walked on. Pro-choice? It was just a question.

Mother Teresa said of abortion:

Life is a God-given gift and who has the right to destroy life? God’s life is in that human body. I believe abortion is a reason why there is so much trouble in the world today. People have ceased loving God, and they think they can do without Him. (Journal Chretien, 8/25/2007)

Yes, abortion is a reason there is so much trouble in the world and people think they can do without God. And the Democratic Party champions abortion. The Democratic Party is not “the good guys” for that reason and for the reasons enumerated above and for countless others.

Still there is hope for those who have been complicit, through voting, in the attack on the culture of life by the Democrats. One could imagine Dr. Nathanson’s temptation to despair when he realized that he had “presided over” the death of 60,000 innocents. But Dr. Nathanson did not despair. Sixteen years after he delivered the address quoted above as an atheist, he was baptized a Catholic. He said of his conversion, “No religion matches the special role for forgiveness that is afforded by the Catholic Church.” The Church offers the sacraments of healing. The Church seeks to heal the exploited mothers, to save the unplanned baby. And the Catholic Church must defend those most defenseless, must oppose the Democratic Party in its exploitation of the unborn and their mothers and fathers.

And so one is left with the question we started with.

Can a Catholic be a Democrat?


I will leave you with these words spoken by Mother Teresa at the United Nations’ “International Conference on Population and Development,” held in Cairo on Sept 5-13, 1994.

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.

By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, that father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. The father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today–abortion which brings people to such blindness.

And for this I appeal in India and I appeal everywhere–”Let us bring the child back.” The child is God’s gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things–to love and to be loved. In this year of the family we must bring the child back to the center of our care and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive because our children are the only hope for the future. As older people are called to God, only their children can take their places.

But what does God say to us? He says: “Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand.” We are carved in the palm of His hand; that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God from conception and is called by God to love and to be loved, not only now in this life, but forever. God can never forget us.

I will tell you something beautiful. We are fighting abortion by adoption–by care of the mother and adoption for her baby. We have saved thousands of lives. We have sent word to the clinics, to the hospitals and police stations: “Please don’t destroy the child; we will take the child.” So we always have someone tell the mothers in trouble: “Come, we will take care of you, we will get a home for your child.” And we have a tremendous demand from couples who cannot have a child–but I never give a child to a couple who have done something not to have a child. Jesus said, “Anyone who receives a child in my name, receives me.” By adopting a child, these couples receive Jesus but, by aborting a child, a couple refuses to receive Jesus.

Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child. From our children’s home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3000 children from abortion. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents and have grown up so full of love and joy.

I know that couples have to plan their family and for that there is natural family planning. The way to plan the family is natural family planning, not contraception. In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gifts of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception. Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.

I also know that there are great problems in the world–that many spouses do not love each other enough to practice natural family planning. We cannot solve all the problems in the world, but let us never bring in the worst problem of all, and that is to destroy love. And this is what happens when we tell people to practice contraception and abortion.

The poor are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things. Once one of them came to thank us for teaching her natural family planning and said: “You people who have practiced chastity, you are the best people to teach us natural family planning because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other.” And what this poor person said is very true. These poor people maybe have nothing to eat, maybe they have not a home to live in, but they can still be great people when they are spiritually rich.

.  .  .  .

Because I talk so much of giving with a smile, once a professor from the United States asked me: “Are you married?” And I said: “Yes, and I find it sometimes very difficult to smile at my spouse, Jesus, because He can be very demanding–sometimes.” This is really something true. And this is where love comes in–when it is demanding, and yet we can give it with joy.

One of the most demanding things for me is travelling everywhere–and with publicity. I have said to Jesus that if I don’t go to heaven for anything else, I will be going to heaven for all the travelling with all the publicity, because it has purified me and sacrificed me and made me really ready to go to heaven.

If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world. From here, a sign of care for the weakest of the weak–the unborn child–must go out to the world. If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for. God bless you!


The Republican Convention and PBS

© 2012 by P. A. Ritzer

29 August 2012

As I watched one speaker after another intelligently and engagingly put the lie to the Obama and Democratic Party record and talking points, I had to wonder at the PBS team covering the event.  First of all, I would have rather heard and seen Janine Turner and Nikki Haley and anyone else I missed when the PBS team deemed that their .  .  . what? .  .  . “commentary” and “analysis” should take priority over the contributions of the real players in this one-time event.  Among other things, I wondered if the amply seasoned partisan commentators Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff, and Mark Shields, and their token conservative–so suited to the role that he writes for the New York Times and was once inspired to prophesy about an inevitable Obama presidency while staring at the crease in Obama’s pants–David Brooks still made a pretense of objectivity.

Regardless, I thought back to an earlier time when I was glad of PBS Republican Convention coverage.  It was 1984, and I had finally landed on PBS after hurriedly clicking through the four available channels.  Why the rush? Well, because I had noticed that, off in the distance behind John Chancellor droning on to Tom Brokaw, it appeared that Jack Kemp was speaking.  No, the networks would not talk over one of the most dynamic and popular Republicans of the day.  But, sure enough, when I landed on PBS, there was Kemp.  But they would not do that to Jeane Kirkpatrick, the keynote.  Sure they would, and at least John and Tom did.  Again, I found her on PBS.  So, two of the brightest stars of the night, including a brilliant woman who was at the time still a Democrat who would switch to the Republican Party the next year, were kept from the view of the public by tedious liberal commentary.  I remember that Paul Harvey–this was still a few years before Rush Limbaugh burst onto the scene and signaled the beginning of the end of the liberal media monopoly, for now–the next day mentioned this abuse of power by the networks and how he would tune to PBS from that time on for coverage of the Republican Convention.

So, I did just that, as well.  And during a later campaign, when MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour was the only news program that, despite its liberal bias, would at least bring on guests representing the opposing point of view, I watched their campaign coverage.  I remember the glowing backgrounder report on the Democratic Party, stretching well past Martin Van Buren and Andrew Jackson and the Albany-Richmond Axis all the way back to Thomas Jefferson.  No mention of slavery, the Dred Scott Decision, the Ku Klux Klan, lynching, the black codes, disfranchisement, Jim Crow, opposition to women’s suffrage.  Huh.  All right.  Well, anyway, I looked forward to the backgrounder on the Republican Party.  I believe it was Judy Woodruff who delivered it.  As I remember, it started out with how “the modern Republican Party” started with Richard Nixon.  What?  Not conceived as a reaction to the Kansas-Nebraska Act and its extension of slavery?  No Ripon?  No Abraham Lincoln?  No Emancipation Proclamation?  No Frederick Douglass?  No Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments?  No civil rights laws?  No Ulysses S. Grant?  No Susan B. Anthony, women’s suffrage, and the Nineteenth Amendment?  No Theodore Roosevelt?  No Calvin Coolidge?  No Dwight D. Eisenhower?  No century-long battle against the Democrats to secure civil rights for African-Americans?  No, it was Richard Nixon.  The “modern” Republican Party started with the most discredited, rightly or wrongly, Republican president in history.  How convenient.

But people are beginning to know better today.  The new media is shredding the monopoly of the liberal media, though many–including the Republican establishment–have not yet fully realized it.  And thus people have access to sources that belie what was spoon-fed to the public by the old media.  And the media did look old on that PBS panel.  Nevertheless, they still try, and feisty old Mark Shields thought he had really got one of the guests when he pointed out that the Morrill Act and the Homestead Act, both first passed in 1862, were Republican “government programs.”  Yes, but these were not liberal Democratic programs like those of the New Deal and the Great Society designed to create dependence on an ever-expanding government.  To illustrate my point, I refer to the following excerpt about the Homestead Act from Seven Ox Seven, Part One: Escondido Bound, pp. 55-56:

In the case of homesteading, the government made available public property, not confiscated from its citizens, to those citizens who could benefit from it and were willing and able to improve the land and bring forth its produce to augment the production of the nation. The government did not retain ownership of the land, but turned over ownership to the private citizen after the citizen had earned it and, in the process, proven himself suited and worthy to own it, benefiting the nation in the process. Thus, whereas through an income tax the government confiscated private property, through homesteading the government created private property by distributing parcels of the public domain to those who earned them.
And, after all, was not the United States of America a nation of people in a geographic area with a system of government devised by that people: “We the people of the United States of America.” The land did not belong to the government: it belonged to the nation, a nation of people. The representative government of that nation, that “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” merely fulfilled the role of administering the nation’s public land. Since the land of the nation belonged to the people of the nation, and since the land in question did not belong to any particular citizens, why not make it available to the greatest number of citizens or potential citizens (especially those without the capital to purchase it) who would earn ownership of it by improving that land and making a living from it, toward the end of making them productive, propertied citizens? Why not, where it was feasible, open the land to ownership by those citizens who would prove their worthiness to so own through their commitments of time and effort and their achieved improvement of the land? If an applicant could not improve it, could not make it, then he did not earn the property. The property would be open for another to attempt to earn. This process would continue until those who earned ownership of the land were those most suited to inhabiting and making a living from it. It was an investment of the nation in itself, to place upon the land those most suited to bring forth its produce.
Was it not in the best interest of the nation to place upon the nation’s land the greatest number of deserving people who could benefit from it, rather than allow the land to be concentrated in monopolies by persons or entities? Did it not give more citizens a stake in the nation, give them more reason to participate as free citizens? And this was not a giveaway. It was a sale, in which those with little or no capital could purchase land through their labor by “proving up.” And it would not contribute to dependence but to independence, as those who earned it were awarded ownership. And it was Republican. Though the roots of homesteading were older than the Republican party and could be traced back to a proposal by Thomas Hart Benton in 1825, and even further back to Thomas Jefferson, who had said, “as few as possible should be without a little parcel of land,” it was the Republicans who had made it law. It had been a plank in the Republican party platform, and Republican Galusha Grow of Pennsylvania had authored the homestead bill that President Lincoln had signed into law in 1862. Lincoln had succinctly said of the policy, “I am in favor of cutting the wild lands into parcels, so that every poor man may have a home.”

Conscience, Law, and the Buffalo Hunt (Part Two)

1 March 2012

From Seven Ox Seven, Part One: Escondido Bound, the second of three excerpts from pages 219-228.

Copyright © 2007 by P. A. Ritzer

And to whom or what were the lawful and the lawless passing on their responsibility and freedom when they passed them on to the state? Well, at least in the United States of America, a republic, they were passing on their freedom and attendant responsibility to a seemingly innocuous form of government, a representative government, a government of elected peers. But those peers, too, were human. They, too, only ruled as well as they were willing to form their consciences to the rule of “the laws of nature and of nature’s God,” and to act in accordance with those consciences. Besides, once a matter like the slaughter of the buffalo was referred to the state, the state, in regard for all its citizens, was required to rule at a higher degree of generality than that of the individual conscience with its single subject, so that the general law of the state would be less adaptable than the more immediate and specific law of the individual conscience. Ergo, the individual lost freedom. For at that point, even if circumstances presented a situation in which the individual could act in a certain way in good conscience according to “the laws of nature and of nature’s God,” he might no longer be able to do so according to the laws of the state, because he had relinquished his responsibility and freedom to the state and was the more subjected to it.

Tom considered a simple hypothetical case in this matter of the buffalo. In that case, those hunting the buffalo, lawful and lawless alike, would continue the slaughter despite the obvious signs of it being wrong, if in nothing else than the prodigious waste of meat. Elected representatives of the people, outraged at the waste and the precipitous reductions in the numbers of the animal, would eventually pass a law to forbid the killing of the buffalo. Given that scenario, the following case unfolds. A man out on the prairie comes upon a lame buffalo bull that has been left behind by its herd and is obviously going to die. The man has a family who, though they have some food and are not starving, could make good use of the meat from the bull. Now, however, according to the new law, the man with the family must not kill the bull, and so the lame buffalo moves on to die in some remote place where the meat will go to waste. Before the law, the man could have legally killed and butchered the bull and fed his family with the meat, and he could have done so in good conscience. Now, after the law, his only legal option is to not kill the bull. His conscience must now weigh the law against the hunger of his family and the waste of the meat. If the man decides in good conscience, after weighing the matter, that it is better to kill the bull to feed his hungry family rather than to let the meat rot, he has decided, in good conscience, to break the law. This is no small matter, because in a free society laws should exist to protect the unalienable rights of the citizens; therefore, the conscientious person, in good conscience, should normally obey the law.

In such a case, then, the law, the conscience, or both have been compromised. This conflict between conscience and law comes about as a result of the refusal of earlier hunters to form or obey their consciences. It is a result of those earlier hunters’ failure to rule themselves, a result of their having handed over responsibility to the state, which, by its nature, must rule in a more general way than the conscience. That the man in the hypothetical case is not a hunter illustrates another point: when citizens turn over responsibility to the state, not only do they turn over, with it, their own freedom, but also that of every other citizen, even the most conscientious.

Tom reflected on how his hypothetical case also illustrated the communal nature of man, the latent sacramentalism awaiting men’s acceptance of and cooperation with grace. “No man is an island,” wrote John Donne. “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” If one is diminished, all are diminished. So John Donne let the world know in poetry, some two and a half centuries before, what the Church had been teaching for some sixteen centuries before that, having been taught it by Christ. Neither man nor a man lives in a vacuum. The act of a single man changes the world, the universe, regardless of how private or public the act. A good act has the capacity to yield good consequences far beyond the immediate effect; so does an evil act have a similar capacity to yield evil consequences. Therefore, for man (the creature in whom matter and spirit are combined in one nature, created with free will, in the very image of God), all his actions entail responsibility. Responsibility is a natural concomitant to human actions. To shirk responsibility is but an illusion, as the shirker is responsible for that shirking. And because human actions entail responsibility, each human action deserves its due consideration. When humans fail to accept the responsibility for their actions; when they refuse to give those actions due consideration; when, after such consideration, they refuse to act on the conclusions of an informed conscience, then events like the slaughter of the buffalo result.

Thus, Tom considered three broad categories of men: the conscientious, those who formed their consciences and acted according to them; the lawful, those who waited for the state to pass laws to legislate their behavior and thereby relinquished their freedom and its attendant responsibility to the state; and the lawless, those who had no respect for the law and would defy the law as they saw fit, until they were prevented by the state from doing so, thereby passing on all of their freedom and its attendant responsibility to the state. Consideration of these led Tom’s mind onto consideration of another category of man, call them the semi-lawful.

(continued in Part Three)

Texas Trails: SEVEN OX SEVEN Excerpt

19 August 2011

   At the end of August 2011, we might look back to the Stuart-Schurtz party’s experience at this time of year 134 years ago, and consider the pioneer nature of this blessed republic, the United State of America.

Seven Ox Seven, Part One: Escondido Bound, pp. 171-172

Copyright © 2007 by P. A. Ritzer

   Many were the ways, broad and strait, trod out upon the trails of Texas.  Trails renowned and trails obscure emerged upon the land, born of the myriad imprints of foot, hoof, and wheel: first a single set of prints, then another, and another, countless prints matched to human wills, wills intent on their separate ways, some to loom large in the annals of history, multiples more to be forgotten.  Remembered or forgotten, these ways shared a profound importance, as each determined the ultimate success or failure of a singular human being graced with a supernatural destiny.  The trails were but lines worn into the face of the wilderness, now province, now state, now nation, now state; but the ways trod out upon those trails, each determined by a human will reaching through intentions toward desired ends, with allowance for circumstances, were journeys of consequence.

At the end of August 1877, members of the Stuart-Schurtz party joined their individual ways in a common goal to journey toward consequences common and individual.  Pulling away from home and its holds of love, of memories, of the fruits of labor, they merged their ways onto the Western Trail, their great journey made somehow small upon a trail renowned for epochal migrations of man and beast.

Small upon the trail, small upon the land, small against its time, and yet their souls opened large enough for all of it.  The key, of course, was freedom.  They were free, at least relatively free for human beings still bound in the temporal phase of life.  They owed nothing material to any other human beings.  What they had was theirs, and they had enough, enough to supply their needs and even some desires beyond need, though not so much as to compromise freedom with excess.  They had broken abruptly with the past, its concerns falling farther away behind them with each passing mile, each passing hour.  The concerns of the future lay far off in a place and time unknown to them.  Still, this was not a false freedom without responsibility, which becomes the most subtle and insidious bondage, but the true freedom of accepting responsibility, indeed of taking responsibility for their destinies, and of accepting the incumbent lesser responsibilities meted out in the routine and manageable doses of the trail’s daily chores, each with its immediate and visible reward, however humble, and all, in combination, laying the groundwork for the potentially life-changing reward at trail’s end.



Copyright © 2011 by P. A. Ritzer

6 July 2011

Welcome to the birth of this column.  And when better than this time of year when we celebrate the birth of the United States of America, a time when it is beneficial to reflect on its foundation, in particular the following words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.  That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Quite a lot to chew on.  And all of it worthy of reflection.  But let’s just start with truths.  So confident were the founders in what is next expressed that they refer to them not only as truths, but self-evident truths.   

Truths are elements of the Truth which encompasses what is real, honest, whole.

Here we will seek the Truth the better to live by it, that we “may have life and have it abundantly.” –Life  

He who came for that purpose also promised that “the truth will make you free.” –Liberty

And with “truth” and “life” we also find “the way.” –Pursuit of Happiness.

Ultimately it all comes down to Love.  And what more could we sinners ask for in this temporal phase of life?