Taking It For The Team

Taking It For The Team

I was talking to a non-Catholic friend the other day when, for whatever reason, the conversation turned toward sex and morality. I always get a little uncomfortable when this happens because I’m a serious Catholic, and people know that: my friends have become conditioned to expect that I’m unable to participate in a discussion on the comparative merits of the pill or the IUD, or that hearing about steamy Tinder hook-ups makes me a little green about the gills. I’m happy to express my opinion when asked, but on such sensitive topics, I think that discretion is almost always the better part of valor. So I was taken aback when the most recent conversation ended abruptly with, “If that’s what Catholics believe, it’s a stupid religion.” Don’t get me wrong: I welcome serious debate because I think it’s an honor to share my knowledge and dispel some common misunderstandings about Church teachings. I’m well aware that not everybody is going to like or agree with what I have to say. But there’s a constructive way of debating, and then there’s school-yard name calling. It concerns me that many otherwise sensitive people don’t seem to realize how hurtful it is to call a person’s faith or religion “stupid.” It’s like insulting a member of the family. In charity, I have to suppose that most people who thoughtlessly insult Catholics or launch hurtful attacks on our Church, our beliefs, and our practices fundamentally misunderstand what it means to be a religious person. Before I started taking the faith seriously, I didn’t get it either. Being a Catholic and living it out...
Contraceptivism

Contraceptivism

CNA has a story about overpopulation, and one economist who is skeptical of its dangers, on what I guess was yesterday’s “World Population Day.” The economist, Nicholas Eberstadt, had this line: “To have a more balanced view of the situation, one has to be a bit more nuanced, and see how population change is affecting opportunities and constraints,” he added. “And you don’t get that with people who see it as a matter of secular faith that the instrumentality of dealing with changing human numbers is contraceptivism.” [emphasis added] There are lots of “isms” these days; does the near-religious belief in the great benefits of the pill rise to this level? If nothing else, the sheer volume of true believers in contraception warrant the social movement having its own name. Other “isms” have their own name even though there are far fewer adherents. So can we identify some of the tenets of contraceptivism? A possible few come to mind (sorry if I’m repeating earlier posts). Contraceptivism believes that: Contraception has only benefits, no costs. The costs, of course, are numerous and span medical, spiritual, and psychological areas. But it certainly is effective at promoting… Unrestricted sexual activity is, or should be, a right with no moral component available to everyone beyond grade school. But because indulging in this right usually leads to side effects (nine months later), there must be universal access to contraception. Women will be empowered if they can behave more like the worst men. It is an odd thing that society would prefer its women to behave less honorably than its men to behave more honorably. Count the...
Why Contraception and Homosexuality Need Migratory Birds

Why Contraception and Homosexuality Need Migratory Birds

Without getting into the weeds of heavy theology, sin is an offense against the love of God, Who has established eternal law to govern all of existence.  Incidentally, eternal law defines what is in conformity with human nature and what is not.  Therefore, a sin, while an act against God and eternal law, can also be seen as an act against our own human nature.  There are a few reasons why I bring this up. As I am sure many of you read, in those magical days between the retirement of Pope Benedict and the election of Pope Francis, the mainstream media were abuzz with anybody with an opinion, Catholic or not.  This wall-to-wall coverage of the Church moving as fast as it could and as slow as it needed gave many liberals a chance to surface in order to spout their “the Church needs to get with the times” message, publicly wondering if the new pope would “ease the restrictions” on homosexuality and contraception (among many other moral issues).  Though these religious pundits might have done some excessive hyperventilating, those Catholics who have a clue about how Church authority functions yawned and went to bed. But what if the Pope did approve the practices of homosexuality and contraception in at least some instances?  Catholicism and general Christianity would come coming crashing down because of a sudden and jarring negation of papal infallibility.  But aside from that?  Nothing.  The pope’s infallible teaching authority rests within the limits of faith and morals.  ‘Aren’t homosexuality and contraception moral issues?‘ one may ask.  Of course they are, but these things (as well...
Interview: Environmental Impact of Synthetic Hormones

Interview: Environmental Impact of Synthetic Hormones

Dalton Gossett has bachelor and associate degrees in biology and a Ph.D. in plant physiology, and has lived in the Shreveport, Louisiana area for over 25 years. He has taught undergraduate courses in biochemistry, animal physiology, and environmental science. He has also assisted undergraduate and graduate student research in biology, and his research interests include environmental parameters related to maintaining and improving water quality. Tim Shaughnessy interviewed Dr. Gossett following a Feb. 22nd lecture entitled “Long-term Environmental Impact of Birth Control: The Release of Estrogens into the Environment.” ———- T&C: Dr. Gossett, with your academic background in biochemistry, water quality, and environmental science, what specifically motivated you to research the presence of estrogen-type compounds in the Shreveport-area water system? DG: This project began with a discussion with a colleague at the LSU Agricultural Center Red River Research Station in Bossier Parish. We were discussing the use of chicken litter as a fertilizer, and we begin to talk about the possible impact of estrogen release from this litter. We were initially going to do this as a joint project, but he retired before we finally had the equipment necessary to do the analyses.   T&C: Your research seem consistent with other studies from around the US and elsewhere that have found similar results of a high presence of synthetic hormones mimicking estrogen in rivers and streams around cities, causing malformation in fish populations. Before you began your research, did you expect to find similar results in Shreveport? DG: I expected to find EEDCs (estrogenic-endocrine disrupting compounds) in the runoff from the chicken litter, but I had no idea if the...
Unsurprising news from the world of contraception

Unsurprising news from the world of contraception

A truism of economics is that if you make an activity cheaper, you can’t expect people will engage in that activity less than when it was more expensive. The siren song of contraception is that its use will reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. It certainly sounds plausible, and in some cases it may, but there are plenty of reasons that suggest increased contraceptive use will lead to more (or at least not fewer) abortions. Aside from reasons, there is a growing amount of supporting evidence too: ‘Emergency contraception’ increases STD rates, does not reduce abortions, new study finds …more widespread use of the morning-after pill led “led to a statistically significant increase in STD rates (gonorrhea rates), both overall and for females.” …the researcher said that she did not find “an impact of pharmacy access on abortion or birth rates,” according to the study’s abstract. …The new findings were released just after the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a policy statement asking doctors and school nurses to promote the use of “emergency contraception” among sexually active adolescents. …A recent working paper for the National Poverty Center reviewed 23 studies of emergency contraception and concluded “that the evidence points against there being an effect of EC on pregnancy or abortion rates.” Their conclusions confirm a study conducted in the United Kingdom last January, which found that widespread access to abortifacients did nothing to reduce pregnancy but increased STD rates by 12 percent. The report, co-authored by Dr. David Paton, appeared in the Journal of Health Economics in January 2011. Instead of sex-ed classes and handing out...