Links roundup, 5.23

Some inconvenient abortion facts – why you really can’t be pro-life and pro-contraception. Many argue that the abortion rate would go down if we had easier access to contraception. But the statistics don’t bear this out, instead abortion and contraception tend to rise together. 54% of women who had abortions in 2000 were using contraception in the month they conceived. According to Planned Parenthood, between 15% of woman using condoms and 8% using the pill will become pregnant in the first year of the typical use of these contraceptives. That is about 2 million “unwanted pregnancies” a year, and statistically about half of those end in abortion. That mean nearly 1 million abortions per year from the anticipated failure rate of the most popular contraceptives, and a stunningly high percentage of the overall 1.2 million abortions in that year 2000.

There is a shift in young people’s moral language, a move toward talking about morality as an expression of feelings. I have noticed this trend in my classes as my students habitually express all of their thoughts by introducing them as “I feel” statements. CS Lewis pretty well nails where this emotivist trend will lead in the Abolition of Man.

A GoogleMaps picture of where the 12 apostles died. Pretty cool.

I continue to be annoyed by the breathless media coverage (this “story” got a top screen billing on the msnbc web page) of anything an atheist physicist says about religion. I am reminded of what Socrates learned when he looked for people wiser than him (the Apology) – the craftsman usually made the mistake of thinking that expertise in one area made them wise in all areas. Media outlets don’t seem to have understood that lesson, so we are subjected to actors talking politics and scientists talking theology. Thoughtful readers will take philosophically/theologically incompetent people (like Hawking, Dawkins and crew) with a big grain of salt. Sadly, most readers will simply genuflect to the apparent “findings” of science and think that something has been demonstrated when it hasn’t. For a time I would blame theists for just not writing enough popular and accessible material. These days, there is more of that out there (not that it gets the attention it deserves). For instance, this article in First Things does a fine job of showing how attempts like Hawking’s to ban natural theology just show how much we need it. Msgr Charles Pope explains why Hawking should stick to science and leave theology to the experts. This piece wonders what the Pope might say if he could speak with Hawking. And I am reminded of Feser’s nice piece on why so many physicists are so bad at philosophy.

English Bishops bring back meat less Fridays. Good on them.

Fr. Barron on St. Thomas Aquinas’ indecipherable handwriting.

A nice run down of the recent news and discussion on litrugical events – particularly Universsae Ecclesiae (which is a clarification of Summorum Pontificum). This article talks about Benedict’s ongoing “reform of the reform”.

I did not know that Bob Marley converted to Christianity late in life.

Archbishop Dolan on why being pro-marriage does not mean being anti-gay.

Speaking of Dolan, this article discusses and excerpts Dolan’s discussion with Paul Ryan on the budget and Catholic social justice.

The United States account for 6% of the Catholics in the world, but 60% of the annulments. This is a church crisis no one pays any attention to.

Janet Smith weighs in on the ongoing controversy over the tactics of some pro-life groups where they intentionally deceive Planned Parenthood in order to bring to light various moral and legal scandals in Planned Parenthood clinics (specifically the Live Action group tactics). I am still somewhat torn on the issue, but I think I come down with Peter Kreeft and Smith.

Why do I not disbelieve in the face of things like the problem of evil? I like Blessed Cardinal Newman’s observation: “Ten thousand difficulties do not amount to a single doubt.”

An assessment of multiculturalism, its benefits and its failures.

“Sexually liberated” people laugh and sneer at conservatives who still think masturbation and pornography are sins and social ills. But the view is not at all silly. Here CS Lewis talks about why masturbation is wrong and how it frustrated proper sexual relationships, which are fundamentally interpersonal and other-oriented as opposed to the essential selfishness, autonomy, and anti-social character of pornography and masturbation.

"For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back; sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides. And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman. For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover; no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself…After all, almost the main work of life is to come out of our selves, out of the little dark prison we are all born in. Masturbation is to be avoided as all things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison." -C.S. Lewis

About Kleiner

Associate Vice Provost and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.
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