Monday, January 30, 2012


Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria wrote a letter to his Diocese on January 8, 2012.  You can read the letter in its entirety at the Diocese of Peoria.   Here is an interesting quote from Bishop Jenky's letter:
"If man is just a chemical accident, a mere collection of neurons that has somehow produced a kind of clever monkey, then there really is no right or wrong and no intrinsic value to human existence.  All that remains in this nihilistic perception is basically self-absorption."
What follows is a synopsis of the Bishop's letter, taken from  

Noting that “American Catholics have in recent decades become remarkably passive even in the face of relentless hostility from the media, the entertainment industry, and now from some politicians,” Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria has issued a pastoral letter on secularism.
The letter, issued on January 8, received a wider audience when it was published in the January 26 issue of Origins.
“The Catholic Diocese of Peoria now exists in a political reality that is increasingly secular in outlook and today is often specifically hostile to the convictions of our Faith,” the bishop wrote. “Atheists and secularists have long realized that the Church of Rome is perhaps the largest single institution that still stands in the way of a completely secularized society. In Illinois where politics are notoriously corrupt and whose governmental agenda is so singularly ineffective, intrenched political power happens to be concentrated in a single region that for generations has been immune to reform. This situation has given determined special interest groups a unique opportunity to impose their views on everyone else as they endeavor to exclude faith from any role in the public forum.”
Bishop Jenky continued:
As your Bishop, I now believe it is critically necessary to raise an alarm among the faithful regarding growing threats to our religious freedom due to theincreasing steps toward radical secularization taking place in Illinois. Beside the abrupt exclusion of Catholic Charities from childcare and adoption services and increasing attempts to intimidate Catholic healthcare, I am also concerned about possible future moves that could be made against the independence of our Catholic schools and other public ministries of our Diocese. Eventually it may come to pass that our fidelity to the Gospel of Christ and to Catholic tradition may place us in direct conflict with recent legal definitions of the State of Illinois. There are certainly some in our state whose commitment to [atheistic] secularism is so intense that they may well try to restrict the Church’s role only to the sacristy and sanctuary.

I am especially scandalized by some “Catholic” politicians who willingly collaborate with efforts to restrict the civil liberty of the faith tradition from which they were originally sprung. Many of those in office who were taught to read and write in Catholic schools, now seem entirely indifferent to the consciences of those Catholics who live their faith. On Ash Wednesday, they like to be conspicuous with crosses on their foreheads, but the true Cross of Christ seems far from their hearts and minds. They enjoy parties on March the 17th and wearing green sweaters but in effect are ashamed of Saint Patrick’s unwavering zeal for the Catholic Christianity. They like photo opportunities with the hierarchy, but break their word to them without a moment’s hesitation. They may still use the rituals of Catholicism to mark their happy and sad occasions, but apparently would sell their soul for a vote or a dollar. What does it benefit a person to gain the whole world but lose their soul (Mark 8:36), but eternal loss for the sake of public office in Illinois is an extraordinarily foolish deal with the devil. Such people certainly need our prayers, but they should no longer be able to take our friendship or our support for granted …

Even when our institutions are attacked and our most sacred beliefs held up for scorn, many Catholics sadly remain silent. As your Bishop, it is therefore my duty before God to call faithful Catholics into more assertive action in defense of our religion and those public ministries which we hold to be the work of Christ.
“Loyal believers are called upon not only to defend the Faith but even to defend the very concept of faith in the face of aggressive secularism and increasingly intolerant atheism,” Bishop Jenky concluded. “It now seems to be the unbelievers who apparently hope to initiate some new kind of inquisition designed to entirely exclude God from the public forum. In the face of growing hostility, practicing Catholics need to recognize that the choices we make and the witness we either offer or withhold will have both temporal and eternal consequences for each one of us. Christ the Lord has promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church he founded on the rock of Peter’s faith (Matthew 16:1), but he also warned that at the end of time he will deny those who deny him (cf. Matthew 10:33).”
“Catholicism is filled with enormous spiritual richness, a cohesive intellectual tradition, and a remarkable commitment to charity and service. It is the Faith for which we should be ready and willing to give our hearts and even to offer up our lives. It is also the Faith by which we all certainly will be judged before the throne of Almighty God.”

Friday, January 27, 2012


In the last few days I have forgotten or misplaced many things.  As Mrs. EO will tell you, this is not unusual.   I thought perhaps that by writing down what I have forgotten I could tamp down the painful thoughts that haunt me.

The thoughts that haunt me are that my forgetfulness is a form of dire incompetence, or worse, a lack of moral fiber.  Worse, my initial reaction when I've misplaced something is to suspect that someone I love has moved it.  Scientists studying me have determined that this is incorrect 99.99999957% of the time.  So I compound my forgetfulness with my unfounded suspicions.  Lately, as I've grown older, the thought that haunts me most is that maybe these bouts of forgetfulness are signs of impending dementia. Cheerful, I know.

Looking at the optimistic side of the equation, there are many events in my life that are well worth forgetting, and a few things that are quite necessary to forget in order to function.  So I got that going for me.

Here is a list of things I've forgotten or misplaced this week.  The list can only be partial: I am sure I've forgotten some things I've forgotten.
  • wallet - only for a little bit.  Then I found it in my pocket.
  • glasses - a particularly difficult problem, as it is hard to find my glasses without my glasses.  Sometimes I've lost them, then found them.  On my face.
  • watch - found it in my pocket.  Why was it in my pocket?  Why not on my wrist?  Perhaps we will never know.  
  • prescription - put it in a drawer at work after picking up at Rite Aid.  Forgot about it.
  • briefcase -  woke me up early this morning.  Thought I'd left it home, but it's not here.  I hope it is at work.
  • tax returns - inside the briefcase.  Yep.  Scary ID theft scenarios are running through my head.
  • Spanish homework - lost track of it twice so far.  Lost it; found it (so happy).  Lost it right away again. I think it is in my briefcase.  See above.  I do remember the Spanish phrase for "I forgot:"  "Se me olvido."  I really like the passive voice, like it's not my responsibility.
  • The Spanish word for river.  Yes, I know it is "rio."  But I couldn't remember yesterday evening as I rode home on the train.
  • Call daughter on birthday - this one really hurt.  Kept thinking about her at work, then took the train home and completely lost track of my intention to call her when I got home.  Sad, sad, sad.
  • To get a haircut - I have needed one for 2 weeks.  The problem is that I remember when I look in the mirror in the morning but forget when I get to work.
  • Pick up the dry-cleaning - finally remembered yesterday evening at work.  Hallelujah!!  The nice owner of the dry-cleaning store said, with a wry smile, "haven't seen you for awhile."  (I think she knows about me.)  I once moved to another state and left a suit in the dry-cleaners.  A friend happened to find out about the suit, and mailed it to me.  I had no idea until he called me.  I was hoping the nice dry-cleaning lady had forgotten.  Probably not.
  • To make a "to do" list - much like the glasses.  Keeping a list of things to do is fine, but you need to remember to make the list, and then, to bring it with you, and then, where you put it.  Also, you cannot forget to write down important things on the list.
Mrs. EO can confirm that I am a living testament to the indulgent love and power of Almighty God to preserve his helpless children.

I take some comfort in the advice of St. Francis de Sales: 
  • "do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections" and 
  • "have patience in all things, but first of all, yourself."

What a wonderful man.  I feel like he must have known me.

In my sixth decade, I have become more resigned to my forgetfulness. I am (almost) grateful for it.  Forgetfulness has been a source of grace in my life.  It is constantly with me.  It is a lucid and insistent reminder of my need for God.  It is, in fact, my good friend.

A wonderful prayer of the Catholic Church:  "St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please look around, something is lost and cannot be found."  St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things.  He stays very busy in my life.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


"The Amish and Christian Scientists have a conscientious objection to health insurance, and so the law exempts them from buying it. The government acknowledges the right of these religious groups to live out their religious convictions in US society. Why are beliefs of Catholics and others dismissed?"
      - Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Because there are 249,000 Amish and less than 200,000 Christian Scientists.   The Amish and Christian Scientists already have their exemptions from Social Security and Medicare, so the Administration can pretend they aren't there.

There are about 54,000,000 adult Catholics (24% of the U.S. adult population of about 225,500,000).  If they get "opt out fever," over the "conscience thing," as Nancy Pelosi calls it, Obamacare goes bankrupt.  Especially if Catholics start influencing other conservative religious groups to opt out. 

Simple equation, really.  The Administration cannot afford to have Catholics upsetting the apple cart.  Rather then step back from a policy that has them trampling people's consciences and religious beliefs, the Administration decided to force a Constitutional fight. 

That's just Hope & Change, I guess.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


President Obama thinks that universal health insurance coverage is important enough to force people to buy it, even when they don't want it and don't need it.  He also thinks that contraception and sterilization are so important that Catholics ought to be forced to pay for them, even though it violates their consciences and the teaching of their Church.  

On January 20, 2012 Mr. Obama's Administration (the HHS) denied the latest effort to provide a conscience exemption from the requirements of universal health insurance coverage.  This means that Catholic hospitals and schools will be required to provide insurance to their employees that covers sterilization and contraception, even though their church prohibits such practices.

I find it astonishing that this Administration, in the name of "choice," is prepared to override the "choice" of tens of millions of religious Americans.  An article in, which covers news that is of interest to Catholics, quotes Cardinal Roger Mahony:
"Every candidate must be pressed to declare his/her position on all of the fundamental life issues, especially the role of government to determine what conscience decision must be followed: either the person's own moral and conscience decision, or that dictated/enforced by the Federal government. For me the answer is clear: we stand with our moral principles and heritage over the centuries, not what a particular Federal government agency determines." 
This injustice will hound President Obama as he campaigns for re-election. His arguments about "fairness" will ring hollow for the tens of millions of Catholics who actually practice their faith, as it will for millions of other Americans who don't like being pushed around by arrogant politicians.  

President Obama is all for freedom if it is his freedom.  He is all for choice if it is his choice.  He is all for fairness if it is fair to him. 
We shall see how the President fares on this latest venture in forcing his vision on unwilling Americans.   I don't see this working out well for him.  Not even a little bit.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


39 years ago today the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade.  The opinion held that the Constitution of the United States forbade the prohibition of abortion, except under the most limited of circumstances.

Roe was a naked assertion of political power.  It was devoid of any convincing legal or moral reasoning.  As a piece of legal craft or Constitutional interpretation it was and is a laughingstock.  Its purpose - and only coherent justification - was to end the increasingly polarizing political debate over abortion.  In this purpose Roe has failed altogether.

Since Roe was decided Americans have murdered 52 million helpless human children.  Virtually all of these murders were performed because it was inconvenient to have the baby, not because the life of the mother was at stake.  Our American campaign of genocide has now killed more innocent lives than Stalin (20 million) more than Hitler (25 million), and more than Mao (40 million).  See the website "Necrometrics" for more information on mass murder.

Dr. Martin Luther King said this, in 1963, in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail:"

"I would agree with St. Augustine that 'an unjust law is no law at all' . . . A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law."  

Roe v. Wade is an unjust law.  It seeks to justify the killing of innocent children.  It will die a slow, agonizing, and squalid death, but it will die.  And when it does, and when our children's children come to read the history of our age, what will they say about my generation, who slaughtered 50 millions of its children in a frenzy of convenience?  They will hold us up as a horror, just as we hold up Hitler and Stalin and their murders.

Will there be anyone to pray for our souls?  Will the innocents we slaughtered plead for us at the altar of God?  As the Apostle Paul said in his Epistle to the Romans, "oh wretched man that I am, who will save me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, pray for us.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


It is strange, but people talk to me quite a bit about the fact that we have 5 children.  One of the issues that gets raised is how expensive it must have been.

Not really.  If you are going to think about it that way - and I don't advocate that you do - think about this: the marginal cost of children goes down dramatically after the first one, and again after the second one.  Here's an interesting article on the subject in USA Today, which is titled "Hey Parents, the Third Kid is a Bargain."

Now anyone who has had a large family can tell you that the whole argument about how expensive it is to raise children is wildly overrated.  In 30 years of marriage I have never, to my knowledge, had even one moment in which I thought "wow, I wish I'd had fewer children, then I'd be wealthier."  Even saying it sounds silly, but if you've had children, you know how truly risible it is.

The funnier part of the whole discussion is the notion that there is some fixed cost to raising children.  While there are obviously limits you cannot disregard, the notion that $225,000 is some magic number you are going to have to spend in 18 years is just silly.  You have a wide range of choice here.  Some of the choices are very expensive and some are very cheap.

It's not like you have a fixed expense enforced by law, although if we give the present Administration 4 more years maybe you will.  You can feed the kids Kobe beef or you can feed them home-made chicken noodle soup.  You can outfit the whole brood for an entire year at yard-sales and Goodwill for $100 (yep) or you can spend a $1,000 each season on each kid.  So when economists posit an average cost, remember that the reality swings wildly around the average.  Cost per child is HIGHLY elastic.

People from large families can also tell you that their experience was lots of fun.  The notion that children from large families necessarily will be starved for attention is as silly as the notion that an only child necessarily will be a mal-adapted and socially inept loner.  Of course these things can happen, but they are not necessarily the case, and there is precious little in the way of scientific data suggesting that having a large family results in measurably poorer health outcomes for the children.  For instance, one interesting study in China suggested there are almost no measurable health differences between single children and children from larger families.  Another study in rural Bangladesh suggests the same thing.

In any event, if it has any effect at all, family size merely influences our fate; it does not determine it, any more than our parents' wealth or poverty predetermines our economic success or failure.

Interestingly, it also happens that the difference between an average of 2 children per couple and 3 children per couple is the difference between disaster and survival for a society.  You can read more about this subject here.

It's been my observation that the third child is a kind of Rubicon, a milestone, a psychological barrier that places you  and your spouse in a whole new world.  Once you have three, you are definitely not a young run-about couple anymore.  You are a mom and a dad, and that's how you'll be defined the rest of your life.  And you don't mind, either; in fact, this role is profoundly satisfying.

Finally, three happens to be one of the greatest numbers ever.  You can read all about it here.

All these considerations lead me to recommend that you get married to a wonderful, godly spouse and try to have lots of children.  It's good, you'll have fun, and you will save the world.

So here's a link to a great T-shirt website if you have a big family, or are thinking about going down that road.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Swine flu. 2009. Pandemic. Remember?

Huge flop. Now there is concern that swine flu pandemania [a new word I just coined] was fanned by large pharmaceutical companies and their friends at the World Health Organization in order to sell vaccines. The swine flu was less dangerous than a typical seasonal flu. The vaccines did not work well, and sometimes not at all.  The pharma companies made billions.  Various investigations have ensued.

I recall being excoriated for being a pandemic skeptic. My remarks were, in fact, not skeptical enough.

Here is some further reading on the subject, if you care to check out how miserably this ended.

Here's an article about the conflicts of interest at WHO.

Experts are often wildly, disturbingly wrong.  I say wildly because remember, experts gave us leeching, bloodletting, eugenics and phrenology.  I say disturbingly because experts typically wrap themselves in a flowing mantle of holy science and accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being a Holocaust Denier, or worse.  They try to stamp out legitimate debate by slandering and blackballing people who disagree with them.

In short, their expertise does not exempt them from human behavior, that is, from being wrong, sometimes stupidly so, and behaving badly about it.

Here are some examples of wildly wrong "expert" opinions.  

Ulcers - remember just a few decades ago, when there was scientific consensus that ulcers were stress induced?  Turns out it was a microbe.  Turns out you just take antibiotics and are cured.

Cigarettes - remember 70 years ago, when doctors prescribed them for stomach ailments and nerves?  Because they were experts?

Paul Ehrlich - "The Population Bomb."  We are all going to starve to death because we are having too many children.  Hasn't panned out.  Instead, we are facing economic catastrophe from depopulation if we don't start having more children.

Every other expert who has opined on the dangers of over-population since Thomas Malthus.

Global cooling.

Swine flu, 1976 edition.  The federal government is still paying damages for the injuries caused by the vaccine.

Ezra S. Vogel - "Japan as Number One."  Shortly after this book came out, Japan fell off a demographic cliff into a 20 year recession.

David Lereah - "Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust."  The book sold well until the real estate market busted.

M. King Hubbert - predicted oil production would peak in the 1970s ("Hubbert's Peak").  Someday, we will see Hubbert's Peak.  So far, no peak in sight.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."  Irving Fischer, Professor of Economics, Yale University (1929, shortly before Black Friday).  This one is a classic of the genre.

Oh me.