Notes and Comment Blog

A living child in the womb

Feb 19th, 2014 4:56 pm | By

Next trick in the anti-abortion playbook? Ban D&E procedures. South Dakota is working on it.

…the state has become a testing ground for messaging, ballot initiatives and trial-balloon legislation meant to provoke a Supreme Court review of the durability of the Roe v. Wade decision. Now, South Dakota may be laying new groundwork to end legal abortion at any point after the first trimester—first in the state but, also, if history repeats itself, for the country. What happens in far-off South Dakota, in other words, very likely won’t stay there.

Anything. Anything to make sure women can’t be in control of their own lives. Anything to keep women enslaved to fertilization.

House Bill 1241, which was filed in early February, would make it a felony to “dismember” a living fetus during an abortion procedure. According to the bill, “the term, dismember, means to use an instrument or procedure for the purpose of disconnecting any bones at their joint, completely severing any bones, or removing any organs or limbs, including the spinal cord, arms, legs, and internal organs.”

What this gruesome-sounding explanation means, in essence, is that H.B. 1241 would make it against the law to perform what is known as a D&E (dilation and evacuation) abortion, a common procedure used in nearly all second-trimester abortions.

This would make one priest very happy.

Father Frank Pavone, the director of the national anti-abortion group Priests for Life, has long urged abortion opponents to focus on D&E as the type of bipartisan abortion restriction that could once more change the national debate. Telling a crowd of more than 200 in June of 2011 that his organization was already looking into ways to outlaw D&E, Pavone said that by focusing on “dismemberment” of a fetus in utero, they might be able once more to pull traditionally pro-choice people to their side.

“Now it’s time for Act 2,” reads the Priests for Life website, where the organization lays out talking points and support documentation to argue in favor of a D&E ban. “Now is the time to ask the American public, whether pro-life or pro-choice, a simple question: Should dismemberment of a living child in the womb be permitted? Let’s go beyond the all-encompassing question of ‘Should abortion be allowed?’ and ask, ‘Should this specific procedure, in which a child’s arms and legs are ripped off, and head crushed, be allowed?’”

It’s not a child. Words have meanings. An embryo is not a child. There isn’t a little darling in footy pajamas in there.

But Frank Pavone is looking forward to the opportunity to convince people that little children are being chopped up by the evil abortionists at the request of the evil women who seek these evil abortions.

“There’s a challenge here that goes far beyond the debate of ‘should we outlaw D&E abortions?’” he says. “The challenge is: How do we even talk about this issue? The pure, simple question is that we know children are being dismembered, so should that be allowed or not? If these bills are introduced, it can be the testing ground for this debate. I’d like people to wrestle with this issue.”

Pure, simple and dishonest.

H.B. 1241 will be heard in the South Dakota legislature’s Republican dominated Health and Human Services Committee, and it will probably to sail through for a full legislative vote. Based on the state’s history with abortion restrictions, it’s likely to be signed into law, with the only question being whether the bill will be challenged or not. A refusal to challenge means a precedent will be set for banning abortion immediately after the first trimester. A court battle, on the other hand, gives those against abortion the chance to discuss “fetal dismemberment” graphically in the hope of moving more Americans to accepting a fetus as a baby that must be protected from harm.

For abortion opponents, either outcome is a win.

Oh well, it’s only women.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Lamenting the rise of increasingly vocal women and minorities

Feb 19th, 2014 11:42 am | By

Huh. It turns out that some guys in the science fiction community are still not happy that women and minorities in that same community won’t stfu.

Just when readers thought the dust had settled on last week’s debate about “political correctness” in sci-fi publishing, a group of highly influential writers spent the past few days lamenting the rise of increasingly vocal women and minorities in their community. The discussion happened on a list-serv thread where the participants apparently thought no one would notice them—at leastuntil they remembered all their posts were public.

Predictably, a new Tumblr is posting excerpts from the conversation, presumably as a way of highlighting just how real the problems with sexism and discrimination in speculative publishing really are. And spoiler alert: It’s not pretty.

It never is.

This isn’t a new debate. Last year the editor of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) newsletter resigned over widespread allegations of sexism. From numerous harassment incidents at sci-fi cons, to a systemic lack of diversity, to major uphill battles for women and writers of color for representation in all areas of the sci-fi publishing industry, tensions between the “old guard” of white male sci-fi publishing and the new diverse community who wants more progressive media are rapidly coming to a boil.

The new thread offers a glimpse into how systemic the divide really is. Fodera is the associate director of contracts for Macmillan, one of the industry’s largest publishers. He calls Kowal, who is a Hugo-award-winning author, “an unperson… no one you should have heard of.”

Gosh, what a pro.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A legacy

Feb 19th, 2014 11:23 am | By

Brilliant. An unvaccinated Berkeley student rides a BART train. It turns out he has measles! Hahaha what a riot; joke’s on him, right? Well no, it’s more that it’s on everyone who was on that train.

Phil Plait explains the background.

People who are unvaccinated have a much higher risk of contracting it than people who are vaccinated. The young man, confirmed to have a case of measles, was unvaccinated and had recently traveled to Asia, where he may have contracted the disease. Measles had been wiped out natively in the U.S. by the 1990s, but local epidemics can be triggered when unvaccinated people travel to other countries. This has happened over and again here in America in the past few years, which is why measles cases tripled in 2013. Tripled.

This new case is particularly worrisome to me because that area has lower vaccination rates than it should. Ironically, that’s generally the case for areas where people are more affluent and better educated (including parts of California and my own home of Boulder, Colo.); they hear anti-vax propaganda, look it up online, and find the nonsense spouted by the anti-vaxxers which in turn confirms their bias.

More affluent and better educated but not better educated enough. Better educated enough to be susceptible to anti-vax bullshit but not enough to see through it and look for more reliable information. Not, for instance, better educated enough to know what kind of havoc infectious diseases used to wreak.

Remember: When you get vaccinated, you are not just protecting you and yours. You’re also helping protect babies too young for their shots, older people, and people with compromised immunities (for example, those who are on immunosuppressants for cancer or arthritis treatment). Herd immunity is real, and important.

People like Jenny McCarthyAndrew WakefieldRFK Jr.NVIC, and the AVN are wrong. Vaccines don’t cause autism, have very low risk, and have huge benefits. I hope this situation in San Francisco doesn’t turn into an outbreak because that could be very nasty indeed. We’ve seen it happen too many times before, and it’s the legacy of those people above and others who spread anti-vax nonsense.

Unvaccinated people? Stay off the trains. Stay out of shops, schools, libraries – well just stay home, really. With the windows closed.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Not a good look

Feb 19th, 2014 10:07 am | By

I’m curious about Justin Trottier; I’m looking for more on his involvement with “Men’s Rights” and the Canadian Association for Equality.

There’s a blog post from March 2012, CFI Canada: Where are they now?

Justin Trottier continues as the public face and voice of CFI Canada, now holding the title of National Outreach Coordinator. Although I may have that title wrong since the CFI Canada website remains horribly out of date (with several people who have resigned remaining on the personnel list). He also continues to advocate for so-called men’s rights, now posting through the “Canadian Association for Equality”:


From the description of the CAE Facebook group:

This facebook group will be used to organize volunteers of a new coalition which will present an alternative and balancing point of view on gender issues like parental and custody rights, violence, education, health, safety & security, poverty and the workplace.
The coalition shall focus on major public educational events and outreach campaigns to finally bring these issues into the living room of every family in Canada.

We’ll lift the veil off revisionist history and make people wonder why
* Men are one-third more likely to develop prostate cancer than women are to develop breast cancer, yet 50% more funding goes to women’s health over men’s
* Men and women commit domestic abuse against each other at roughly equal rates (for every level of severity), yet there is 1 men’s shelter in all of Canada and it just opened this year
* Men now account for under 60% of undergraduate enrollment while boys are performing significantly worse then girls in grade school, yet affirmative action programs continue to “empower women and girls” only
* Female genital mutilation is considered a UN human rights violation yet male genital mutilation is supported by doctors, ethicists and is frequently the basis of mockery on TV

This Canadian Men’s Rights Coalition (CMRC) is the result of 2 years of carefully thought out and planned strategy considerations and 10 months reading over a dozen books by the leading men’s rights champions. When I do things I do them right and BIG. So if you’re interested in helping found this group, of which I am dead serious, contact me at Our plan is to host a major debate in September “Is Society Anti-Male” followed by issue specific lectures throughout the year: poverty, health, violence, safety, etc.

There’s a post at Mens [sic] Rights Help Forum promoting a Canadian Association for Equality event.

Our first public event Thursday: The New Sexism – Discrimination Against Men in Family Courts?
Hi everyone,

You might be interested in our first public event this Thursday night. Please circulate, advise on facebook, twitter, etc:


“The Evolution of Fathers Rights: Redefining The Best Interests of Children”

Thursday, September 22, 7:00 PM
Sidney Smith Hall, Rm 1083 – 100 St. George St, @ the University of Toronto ALL WELCOME

1950s gender stereotypes still determine the final results in Family Court. In the name of children’s best interest, publicly funded services are designed to separate fathers from children, treating them instead like wallets.

The tragic casualties are the children. Kids are routinely denied the benefit from an equal parenting relationship with both parents.

Join Danny Guspie, Executive Director of Fathers Resources International and organizer of several National Shared Parenting Conferences, to hear about his activism for reform of family courts.

Contact: | 416-402-8856 |

Hosted by the Canadian Association for Equality.
Part of our Men’s Issues Awareness Campaign

Danny Guspie, is Executive Director of Fathers Resources International. will share his perspective and experiences gained over the last 20 years as a national divorce-reform activist / educator, counselor, coach and law clerk, helping fathers secure justice for their children.

Justin Trottier
Candidate for MPP, Parkdale-High Park, Green Party of Ontario
Educational Non-Profit Executive Director, Community Activist, Writer and Public Speaker

There’s a bit of video from an event last September.

It’s strange, this Men’s Rights caper. You don’t see people like Trottier setting up or campaigning for racist organizations or homophobic organizations. You see people who do that, of course, but they’re not people like Trottier. But you do see them setting up or campaigning for organizations that are angry about women’s rights.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Feb 19th, 2014 8:46 am | By

What Edna Adan is up to these days – she’s in Australia with a young Somali woman who needs facial reconstruction because of a bullet that destroyed one side of her face when she was two years old.

Edna has traveled with Ayaan to Brisbane, Australia, where Ayaan will receive facial reconstruction surgery to restore her face which was injured during the Somali Civil War.

Ayaan has lived all her life with a hole in the side of her face and now, after many years seeking help, she will undergo surgery this week to have the injuries repaired.

This case has touched Edna deeply and she is so relieved that now – with the support of the Brisbane Rotary Club, The Wesley Hospital, and Dr. John Arvier who will perform the surgery – Ayaan’s sad story will get its happy ending.

It’s good that there are Edna Adans in the world.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

That pendulum is WAY over there on the wrong side

Feb 18th, 2014 5:58 pm | By

Justin Trottier belongs to (or for all I know is the ED of) a men’s rights organization called the Canadian Association for Equality, aka Café (geddit?). It has a Facebook page, which is currently full of Karen Straughan’s talk. It also has a website, which triggered a virus warning, so don’t go there.

The Toronto Star ran an article on it last August.

Adam McPhee is a man. In his eyes, that puts him at a great disadvantage.

“Women have the ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes’ campaign,” says the 32-year-old. “But I don’t see a campaign for women to walk around in steel-toed boots. Men have hard shoes, too.”

McPhee is one of a small but swelling group who believe men have become the new underclass. He hopes to open a mancave that will serve as a refuge for his downtrodden brethren. The Canadian Association for Equality, a men’s rights group of which he is a board member, has launched a campaign to establish the first “Centre for Men and Families” in Toronto.

The new underclass. Right, that’s why women dominate business and the law and movies and music and corporations and finance and government and the military and STEM subjects and…

Local women’s rights advocates agree today’s males face many hardships, but disagree with CAFÉ’s methods of solving them.

“They tend to be more frustrated about women’s rights being protected and women’s equality being promoted, rather than men’s rights being violated,” says Sarah Blackstock, director of advocacy and communications at YWCA Toronto. “If we’re trying to build a society marked by compassion and equality, this centre won’t help us do that.”

CAFE has attempted to open chapters at several campuses across Canada in the past year, only to be met with heated protests. In June, the Canadian Federation of Students put forth a motion to oppose “men’s rights awareness groups” like CAFE, alleging they “provide environments of sexism, patriarchy and misogyny to manifest and be perpetuated on campus.”

Last November, CAFE came under fire when several women who protested at one of their University of Toronto events, featuring guest lecturer Dr. Warren Farrell, were later profiled on the website The site is run by U.S.-based men’s rights website A Voice for Men and is dedicated to exposing females they allege are “false rape accusers” and bigots.

A Voice for Men…I was on their front page once. I did not like that.

SlutWalk organizer Colleen Westendorf agrees spaces are needed to discuss men’s issues, but questions CAFE’s motives.

“Their approach seems to blame feminism for the suffering of men,” she says. “They say they’re interested in gender equality, yet they deny the ways women are still hugely over-represented in experiencing violence and highly under-represented in positions of power.”

But McPhee argues feminists have swung the gender pendulum too far in their own direction.

Thus validating Westendorf’s claim. If the status quo now is swinging the pendulum too far in our direction…yes, that guy is decidedly opposed to equality for women.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The plight of men

Feb 18th, 2014 5:03 pm | By

Somebody called Robert Cribb wrote a silly piece for the National Post in 2011 about men being the new underclass. (Jesus christ, people. Really? Are you serious?) He talked to Justin Trottier. There is a picture of Justin Trottier on it. Justin Trottier is front and center.

First for a sense of the careful thinking and research behind the article:

Proposition: In the shifting modern narrative of gender politics, men are the new women.

The once fortified white male empire, bowed and beaten by generations of women scorned by its bloated superciliousness, has born sons they barely recognize.

We, the offspring of assured, confident, self-realized men, are emerging as a new underclass.

Statistics Canada has gathered the data.

About 60 per cent of university grads today are women.

Following graduation ceremonies that have the feel of sorority house parties, the professional outlooks for women are on the distinct upswing compared to men, national data shows.

Right, and little things like goverments and the military and religious institutions and corporations and popular culture and a few other things being firmly dominated by men – those don’t count, because university graduation ceremonies “have the feel of sorority house parties.”


So then Justin Trottier comes in.

There is another side to the gender shift: A growing revolutionary man-power backlash.

Toronto’s Men’s Issues Awareness Campaign, for example, is a fledgling pushback to the male feminization trend that seeks a realignment of the gender power scales.

“In gender issues, it’s not as simple as women are always victims and men are always the victimizers,” says Justin Trottier, the 28-year-old leader of the campaign. “There’s a far more nuanced debate that we should be having.”

Listen to Trottier for a while and you’ll start to recognize some of the same language uttered by feminists a generation ago.

“We’re about equality and equalism,” says Trottier, who recently ran unsuccessfully in the provincial election as a Green Party candidate. “Look at the landscape and for all our talk of equality, it’s ironic that our societal investments have really been on women’s issues. We should be equally open to appreciating men’s issues.”

Compare, for example, public and private donations for male versus female health programs such as gender-specific cancer research, he says.

Or consider the array of publicly funded programs for immigrants to Canada.

“We see plenty of services for women but we don’t see them available for men,” he says. “These are stark differences.”

Then, to stretch the point, he raises the issue of public investment in shelters for domestic abuse victims.

“They are almost entirely set up for women victims but if you look at the statistics, there are a surprising percentage of cases where men are being victimized.”

Well just push the women out then, and take the shelters for men. It’s only fair.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

MRAs in Canada

Feb 18th, 2014 4:32 pm | By

Oh gosh there was a fun occasion in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, at Ryerson University. Karen Straughan, aka GirlWritesWhat, gave a two hour talk on the kind of thing she talks about. (Men’s rights, that would be, and the evils of feminism.)

The introductory remarks were made by…Justin Trottier.

I haven’t watched it, because I’m not a fan of Straughan’s (or of Trottier’s, for that matter, though I did watch a few seconds of him just to confirm), but here it is in case you want to.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The blogger pushes information about secularism

Feb 18th, 2014 3:38 pm | By

Ben BazAziz shared a copy of the complaint that got him a year in jail in Kuwait, with a translation and commentary by D Duck.

Photo: Thats why i was sentenced for a whole year .. translated in english <img src= plz share :D
the blog now has this url:" src="" />

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Working for Jonathan

Feb 18th, 2014 11:23 am | By

Meanwhile, in Abuja, a mob attacked gay people, the New York Times reports.

A mob attacked gay people in a neighborhood in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, dragging young men from their homes, beating them with nail-studded clubs and whips, and shouting that they were “cleansing the community” of gays, several Nigerian activists and a witness said Saturday.

The attack took place late Wednesday night in the Gishiri neighborhood, and one victim was beaten nearly to death, the witness said. Afterward, the mob of about 50 young men dragged four of the victims to a nearby police station, where the police further beat and insulted them, said the witness, who gave his name as John. His last name is being withheld for his safety.

That’s where homophobia gets you. Surprise! Preach hatred of people and you wind up with violence against those people.

The attack came in the wake of a new law signed by President Goodluck Jonathan prescribing prison sentences of up to 14 years for gay people. There have been recent episodes of similar mob violence in the Muslim-dominated north of Nigeria.

In Abuja, the witness and the activists said, some in the mob were shouting, “We are working for Jonathan!”

When the attack was over, the attackers wrote on the walls of the houses that were stormed, “Homosexuals, pack and leave,” according to an activist, Ifeanyi Kelly Orazulike, who went to help rescue some of the victims.

Activists said the mob violence was a sign that the new law appeared to have given mobs license to act on widespread antigay sentiment in Nigeria.

“The government has given a go-ahead authority to mob jungle justice,” said Mr. Orazulike of the International Center for Advocacy on the Right to Health. “This is unacceptable. You can’t attack people violently because of whom they choose to love.”

Bad times.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Then they hacked and shot them to death

Feb 18th, 2014 11:16 am | By

Boko Haram is still active. A few days ago it murdered dozens of people in a village in the northeast of Nigeria.

The senator for Borno state, where the attack took place, told the BBC’s Newsday programme that 106 people – 105 men and an elderly woman trying to protect her grandson – were killed in the latest attack.

Ali Ndume said around 100 Islamist militants attacked Izghe for five hours on Saturday evening, without any intervention from the army.

It sounds like the attack in Bombay – guys just wandering around killing people.

Other witnesses described how the attackers had arrived on Saturday evening in trucks and motorcycles.

They asked the men in the village to gather, and then they hacked and shot them to death.

Senator Ndume said it was very painful for him as he knew some of those who had been killed, yet it was too dangerous for him to pay his respects in person.

“I cannot interact with the people I represent. I feel very, very bad about it,” he said.

More than 30 people were killed in the town of Konduga, also in Borno state, earlier this week in an attack blamed on Boko Haram.

Allah is merciful.



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A homeopath will tell you

Feb 18th, 2014 10:44 am | By

From the You have got to be kidding file.

M H Haider in the Daily Star (Dhaka) talking about homeopathy in an absurdly “gosh how can one possibly tell either way” manner.

The Law of Similars holds that substances that cause healthy people to get symptoms can cure the medical condition that has these symptoms.

When you dice onions, you have watery eyes and a running nose. When you have hay fever, you face similar problems. A homeopath will tell you that since onions have had similar effects on you when you were healthy, onions should be able to cure the problem that is showing those very effects of running nose and watery eyes.

How does that follow? And if it did follow, why would that mean it applies to everything? A mosquito can transmit malaria, therefore a mosquito should be able to cure the malaria? How is that any kind of “Law”? Who cares that something “holds that” something; the issue is whether that’s accurate or not.

What’s hard to accept is the levels of dilution homeopathic remedies see. The original substance, the real medicine that is, goes through colossal dilutions (and a unique vigorous shaking). Often, the homeopathic remedies are diluted to the point where the original substance becomes chemically non-existent.

Then why on earth would homeopathy work, naysayers rightfully argue. The answer is not very clear. Homeopaths believe that even though the substance is not there, the ‘energy’ of the substance is; and it is this ‘energy’ that aids the healing energy and mechanisms of the body. The dilution and the vigorous shaking create the healing power homeopathic remedies have.
A proper understanding and knowledge of how it works is still underway, and many think that the answer may even lie in the realm of quantum physics.

Again, who cares what homeopaths “believe”? It’s an empirical subject; empirical investigation has not found evidence to support what homeopaths “believe”; the fact that quacks are still marketing the stuff doesn’t change that.

Maybe it’s the placebo effect, Haider concedes. And yet…

But may I ask you, good sir, that if placebo effect is what homeopathy is all about, how can it work with infants and animals? Hence, the placebo effect may not be a strong argument.

It can’t.

This kind of fatuous “who can tell either way” nonsense is why drugstore chains are selling homeopathic asthma “treatment” right next to actual medicine. It’s a fucking scandal.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Just obey

Feb 18th, 2014 10:08 am | By

John Paul 2 wrote (or his boys wrote and he put his name to) this encyclical because of his shock-horror at the fact that human beings, even Catholic human beings, were having the gall and foolhardiness to think about morality in human terms using human reasons. That would never do.

In particular, the question is asked: do the commandments of God, which are written on the human heart and are part of the Covenant, really have the capacity to clarify the daily decisions of individuals and entire societies? Is it possible to obey God and thus love God and neighbour, without respecting these commandments in all circumstances? Also, an opinion is frequently heard which questions the intrinsic and unbreakable bond between faith and morality, as if membership in the Church and her internal unity were to be decided on the basis of faith alone, while in the sphere of morality a pluralism of opinions and of kinds of behaviour could be tolerated, these being left to the judgment of the individual subjective conscience or to the diversity of social and cultural contexts.

5. Given these circumstances, which still exist, I came to the decision — as I announced in my Apostolic Letter Spiritus Domini, issued on 1 August 1987 on the second centenary of the death of Saint Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori — to write an Encyclical with the aim of treating “more fully and more deeply the issues regarding the very foundations of moral theology”,9foundations which are being undermined by certain present day tendencies.

A pointless exercise from the start, because morality is not about theology, and theology does harm to morality.

We can be pretty sure we know where this is going, though. The point is to remind everyone, and to insist with a stamp of the red silk foot, that the church is the boss of morality, and what it says is absolute, and not accepting that is heresy and blasphemy and worse than murder (though not worse than abortion). Morality is absolute; we know what it is because of that book we can quote from; that’s all there is to be said.

32. Certain currents of modern thought have gone so far as to exalt freedom to such an extent that it becomes an absolute, which would then be the source of values. This is the direction taken by doctrines which have lost the sense of the transcendent or which are explicitly atheist. The individual conscience is accorded the status of a supreme tribunal of moral judgment which hands down categorical and infallible decisions about good and evil. To the affirmation that one has a duty to follow one’s conscience is unduly added the affirmation that one’s moral judgment is true merely by the fact that it has its origin in the conscience. But in this way the inescapable claims of truth disappear, yielding their place to a criterion of sincerity, authenticity and “being at peace with oneself”, so much so that some have come to adopt a radically subjectivistic conception of moral judgment.

Whereas what everyone should be doing is just whatever the church tells them.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

And there shall be many citations

Feb 18th, 2014 9:52 am | By

Comparative literature.

From that Jehovah’s Witness tract I told you about the other day:


Yes, for at least two reasons:

• God has the ability to fulfill the promise. In the Bible, Jehovah God alone is called “the Almighty,” for he has unlimited power. (Revelation 15:3) So he is fully able to keep his promise to change our world for the better. As the Bible says, “with God all things are possible.”—Matthew 19:26.

• God has the desire to fulfill the promise. For example, Jehovah has a longing to restore life to people who have died.—Job 14:14, 15.

From the encyclical Veritatis Splendor, John Paul 2, 1993:

2. No one can escape from the fundamental questions: What must I do? How do I distinguish good from evil? The answer is only possible thanks to the splendour of the truth which shines forth deep within the human spirit, as the Psalmist bears witness: “There are many who say: ‘O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord’ ” (Ps 4:6).

The light of God’s face shines in all its beauty on the countenance of Jesus Christ, “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), the “reflection of God’s glory” (Heb 1:3), “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). Christ is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). Consequently the decisive answer to every one of man’s questions, his religious and moral questions in particular, is given by Jesus Christ, or rather is Jesus Christ himself, as the Second Vatican Council recalls: “In fact,it is only in the mystery of the Word incarnate that light is shed on the mystery of man. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of the future man, namely, of Christ the Lord. It is Christ, the last Adam, who fully discloses man to himself and unfolds his noble calling by revealing the mystery of the Father and the Father’s love”.

The Vatican is better at sonority, but it’s still basically the same thing. There’s a book. It says things.



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Feb 18th, 2014 9:37 am | By

A couple of studies found a correlation between belief in hell and unhappiness.

Both studies only showed a correlation between the belief in Hell and unhappiness. But does believing in Hell make a person unhappy, or are unhappy people more likely to believe in hell?

“While we suggest that a belief in Hell leads to lower levels of well-being, these data cannot rule out the possibility that individuals with low levels of well-being are more likely to adopt the belief in Hell or that some third variable is responsible for this pattern,” Shariff and Aknin explained.

It certainly seems to me a very grim thing to believe – a place of eternal punishment for things done during a very non-eternal life. It’s a nightmare belief, really.

Belief in Hell may persist — despite its tendency to reduce happiness — because it provides a social function, the researchers said. Namely, the belief in a punitive afterlife may help promote ethical behavior.

“Thus, the belief in Hell, and religious malevolence more generally, may contribute to the encouragement of rule following, through the deterrence value of supernatural punishment, but may do so at the cost of well-being,” Shariff and Aknin wrote.

I don’t see why you need hell for that. You could believe there’s supernatural punishment without believing it never ends.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Here’s a recruiting tip

Feb 17th, 2014 6:17 pm | By

Jamie Kilstein spends a few minutes explaining why being an asshole who is also an atheist isn’t a great marketing campaign for atheism.

He has a point.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Bright with excitement

Feb 17th, 2014 5:16 pm | By

Atheist Ireland is collecting accounts from parents about religious discrimination and indoctrination in schools.

The second story in that post is terrifying.

Both my boys have autism, one of them being an Aspie. They both attended Catholic schools, as state schools did not have places for them, and it has been interesting to see how religion affects their reasoning.

The worst case scenario was when our eldest boy was told the story of the Resurrection at Easter in his first year at school. He’s rather more compliant than his Asperger’s brother, which is always a worry on so many levels. This is the gist of the conversation that we were faced with that evening with an overly-trusting 5 year old.

Him: (Bright with excitement) I am going to kill myself.
Us: What! Why?
Him: So I can see my granddad again. (Reference to my father who died when our son was a week shy of his 3rd birthday.) But don’t worry, I will come back in three days.
Us: But where did you hear this?
Him: In school today. Jesus died and came back to life after three days.
Us: Well, yes, but according to that story, Jesus came back because he was God’s son.
Him: But the priest said we are all God’s children.

Jeeeeeeeeeezus. People with autism don’t tell lies because they don’t get the concept. That means they don’t get fiction or fantasy or myth. It means that child couldn’t grasp that what the priest said was not true. Not that he didn’t believe it when his parents told him but that he couldn’t understand it. They spent three horrible hours trying to get it across to him.

As I said: terrifying.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Wearing “Stand with Sam” pins

Feb 17th, 2014 4:49 pm | By

A good thing happened at the University of Missouri on Saturday. (My sister-in-law the historian taught there for a few years.)

Hundreds of students formed a human wall around the basketball stadium at the University of Missouri on Saturday because the Westboro Baptist Church had pledged to protest gay football player Michael Sam.

After Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam came out last week last week, anti-LGBT members of the Westboro church vowed to show up at Missouri’s game against Tennessee. But a group of students wearing “Stand with Sam” pins made the extremist group’s demonstration impossible by surrounding the stadium.

Good. Non-violent, even cuddly – and it got the job done.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Feb 17th, 2014 4:10 pm | By

Elyse posted a picture of her dog on Facebook and it’s one of my favorite pictures ever. I asked her if I could post it and SHE SAID I COULD.

Photo: I have a black dog. I cannot find her.

Do you not love that?

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

This woman-centric hand-wringing

Feb 17th, 2014 11:18 am | By

And now to consider the deep injustice of the way women dominate all the bimbo roles in popular culture.

If you have spent time on the Internet, you’re probably tired of hearing how we need more Strong Female Characters. For some reason, people don’t seem to realize that sexism no longer exists today and both sexes are treated with complete equality, especially in the entertainment industry. If anything, men are the ones being discriminated against.

Seriously, think about all those roles that women selfishly hog up (e.g., passive victims requiring rescue, femmes fatales, joyless nags) that are off-limits to even the most talented male actors. It’s time to stop this woman-centric hand-wringing on how to make female characters better and focus on helping the real victims of Hollywood sexism by asking: How can we make male characters worse?

Right? Where are all the Real ManCaveHusbands of Beverly Hills reality shows?

Cracked offers some suggested examples for your amusement.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)