Tag Archives: politics

Psalm 46 in a World Gone Mad

There is a place in Acadia National Park, in Maine, where you can see the ocean’s strength displayed, see the forces that batter and smash. It is called Thunder Hole, and is so dramatic that visitors to the park flock dutifully to stand a moment and watch. Dark water, surging into a hidden cave, collides with a pocket of air, creating a roar like thunder, splashing as high as 40 feet into the air. We visited Acadia, paused there and watched the waves crash angrily against the rock. Who is mightier than the thunder of the sea? Who is mightier than the raging nations?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling…

Read more at godcenteredlife.org…

Election Year Exiles

So Michael (my husband) is a council member over at GCL, and they’ve invited me to write for their blog time to time.  This month the focus is politics, so (PoliSci geek here), I was happy to oblige.  

When we read the New Testament in present day America, it is always with a degree of imaginative remove, like watching a period piece on PBS.  We cock our head: you don’t say!  There always seem to be sandals and dusty robes, grapes and flatbread, lots of sheep… bleating.  Peter and Paul and all those Marys — they look dirty, but somehow pristine; wisdom makes them seem to glow.  They look like Morgan Freeman, or Gandalf, and when they say curious things, it’s hard to separate what’s cultural from what’s timeless.

It’s easy to relegate Biblical themes to a Roman Empire movie set — for example, assuming that idolatry was an ancient problem, or that modesty is now outdated.

Likewise, the idea that we are all aliens and strangers is hard to grasp in our patriotic “Christian country.”  After all, the early Christians (and for that matter, the Jews) lived in enemy-occupied territory; of course Peter would talk like that.

Continue Reading HERE.

If Jonathan Swift ran for president…

Deborah Nucotola couldn’t have come up with a better idea herself!

A MODEST PROPOSAL  by Dr. Jonathan Swift, 1729

For preventing the children of poor people in Ireland, from being a burden on their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the publick.

It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads and cabbin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in stroling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country, to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.

I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom, a very great additional grievance; and therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the common-wealth, would deserve so well of the publick, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.

But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars: it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age, who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them, as those who demand our charity in the streets.

As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many years, upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of our projectors, I have always found them grossly mistaken in their computation. It is true, a child just dropt from its dam, may be supported by her milk, for a solar year, with little other nourishment: at most not above the value of two shillings, which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps, by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them in such a manner, as, instead of being a charge upon their parents, or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall, on the contrary, contribute to the feeding, and partly to the cloathing of many thousands.

There is likewise another great advantage in my scheme, that it will prevent those voluntary abortions, and that horrid practice of women murdering their bastard children, alas! too frequent among us, sacrificing the poor innocent babes, I doubt, more to avoid the expence than the shame, which would move tears and pity in the most savage and inhuman breast.

The number of souls in this kingdom being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couple whose wives are breeders; from which number I subtract thirty thousand couple, who are able to maintain their own children, (although I apprehend there cannot be so many, under the present distresses of the kingdom) but this being granted, there will remain an hundred and seventy thousand breeders. I again subtract fifty thousand, for those women who miscarry, or whose children die by accident or disease within the year. There only remain an hundred and twenty thousand children of poor parents annually born. The question therefore is, How this number shall be reared, and provided for? which, as I have already said, under the present situation of affairs, is utterly impossible by all the methods hitherto proposed. For we can neither employ them in handicraft or agriculture; we neither build houses, (I mean in the country) nor cultivate land: they can very seldom pick up a livelihood by stealing till they arrive at six years old; except where they are of towardly parts, although I confess they learn the rudiments much earlier; during which time they can however be properly looked upon only as probationers: As I have been informed by a principal gentleman in the county of Cavan, who protested to me, that he never knew above one or two instances under the age of six, even in a part of the kingdom so renowned for the quickest proficiency in that art.

I am assured by our merchants, that a boy or a girl before twelve years old, is no saleable commodity, and even when they come to this age, they will not yield above three pounds, or three pounds and half a crown at most, on the exchange; which cannot turn to account either to the parents or kingdom, the charge of nutriments and rags having been at least four times that value.

I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricasie, or a ragoust.

IMG_1887I do therefore humbly offer it to publick consideration, that of the hundred and twenty thousand children, already computed, twenty thousand may be reserved for breed, whereof only one fourth part to be males; which is more than we allow to sheep, black cattle, or swine, and my reason is, that these children are seldom the fruits of marriage, a circumstance not much regarded by our savages, therefore, one male will be sufficient to serve four females. That the remaining hundred thousand may, at a year old, be offered in sale to the persons of quality and fortune, through the kingdom, always advising the mother to let them suck plentifully in the last month, so as to render them plump, and fat for a good table. A child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends, and when the family dines alone, the fore or hind quarter will make a reasonable dish, and seasoned with a little pepper or salt, will be very good boiled on the fourth day, especially in winter.

I have reckoned upon a medium, that a child just born will weigh 12 pounds, and in a solar year, if tolerably nursed, encreaseth to 28 pounds.

I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.

Infant’s flesh will be in season throughout the year, but more plentiful in March, and a little before and after; for we are told by a grave author, an eminent French physician, that fish being a prolifick dyet, there are more children born in Roman Catholick countries about nine months after Lent, the markets will be more glutted than usual, because the number of Popish infants, is at least three to one in this kingdom, and therefore it will have one other collateral advantage, by lessening the number of Papists among us.

I have already computed the charge of nursing a beggar’s child (in which list I reckon all cottagers, labourers, and four-fifths of the farmers) to be about two shillings per annum, rags included; and I believe no gentleman would repine to give ten shillings for the carcass of a good fat child, which, as I have said, will make four dishes of excellent nutritive meat, when he hath only some particular friend, or his own family to dine with him. Thus the squire will learn to be a good landlord, and grow popular among his tenants, the mother will have eight shillings neat profit, and be fit for work till she produces another child.

Those who are more thrifty (as I must confess the times require) may flea the carcass; the skin of which, artificially dressed, will make admirable gloves for ladies, and summer boots for fine gentlemen.

As to our City of Dublin, shambles may be appointed for this purpose, in the most convenient parts of it, and butchers we may be assured will not be wanting; although I rather recommend buying the children alive, and dressing them hot from the knife, as we do roasting pigs.

A very worthy person, a true lover of his country, and whose virtues I highly esteem, was lately pleased, in discoursing on this matter, to offer a refinement upon my scheme. He said, that many gentlemen of this kingdom, having of late destroyed their deer, he conceived that the want of venison might be well supply’d by the bodies of young lads and maidens, not exceeding fourteen years of age, nor under twelve; so great a number of both sexes in every country being now ready to starve for want of work and service: And these to be disposed of by their parents if alive, or otherwise by their nearest relations. But with due deference to so excellent a friend, and so deserving a patriot, I cannot be altogether in his sentiments; for as to the males, my American acquaintance assured me from frequent experience, that their flesh was generally tough and lean, like that of our school-boys, by continual exercise, and their taste disagreeable, and to fatten them would not answer the charge. Then as to the females, it would, I think, with humble submission, be a loss to the publick, because they soon would become breeders themselves: And besides, it is not improbable that some scrupulous people might be apt to censure such a practice, (although indeed very unjustly) as a little bordering upon cruelty, which, I confess, hath always been with me the strongest objection against any project, how well soever intended.

But in order to justify my friend, he confessed, that this expedient was put into his head by the famous Salmanaazor, a native of the island Formosa, who came from thence to London, above twenty years ago, and in conversation told my friend, that in his country, when any young person happened to be put to death, the executioner sold the carcass to persons of quality, as a prime dainty; and that, in his time, the body of a plump girl of fifteen, who was crucified for an attempt to poison the Emperor, was sold to his imperial majesty’s prime minister of state, and other great mandarins of the court in joints from the gibbet, at four hundred crowns. Neither indeed can I deny, that if the same use were made of several plump young girls in this town, who without one single groat to their fortunes, cannot stir abroad without a chair, and appear at a play-house and assemblies in foreign fineries which they never will pay for; the kingdom would not be the worse.

Some persons of a desponding spirit are in great concern about that vast number of poor people, who are aged, diseased, or maimed; and I have been desired to employ my thoughts what course may be taken, to ease the nation of so grievous an incumbrance. But I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because it is very well known, that they are every day dying, and rotting, by cold and famine, and filth, and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected. And as to the young labourers, they are now in almost as hopeful a condition. They cannot get work, and consequently pine away from want of nourishment, to a degree, that if at any time they are accidentally hired to common labour, they have not strength to perform it, and thus the country and themselves are happily delivered from the evils to come.

I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject. I think the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.

For first, as I have already observed, it would greatly lessen the number of Papists, with whom we are yearly over-run, being the principal breeders of the nation, as well as our most dangerous enemies, and who stay at home on purpose with a design to deliver the kingdom to the Pretender, hoping to take their advantage by the absence of so many good Protestants, who have chosen rather to leave their country, than stay at home and pay tithes against their conscience to an episcopal curate.

Secondly, The poorer tenants will have something valuable of their own, which by law may be made liable to a distress, and help to pay their landlord’s rent, their corn and cattle being already seized, and money a thing unknown.

Thirdly, Whereas the maintainance of an hundred thousand children, from two years old, and upwards, cannot be computed at less than ten shillings a piece per annum, the nation’s stock will be thereby encreased fifty thousand pounds per annum, besides the profit of a new dish, introduced to the tables of all gentlemen of fortune in the kingdom, who have any refinement in taste. And the money will circulate among our selves, the goods being entirely of our own growth and manufacture.

Fourthly, The constant breeders, besides the gain of eight shillings sterling per annum by the sale of their children, will be rid of the charge of maintaining them after the first year.

Fifthly, This food would likewise bring great custom to taverns, where the vintners will certainly be so prudent as to procure the best receipts for dressing it to perfection; and consequently have their houses frequented by all the fine gentlemen, who justly value themselves upon their knowledge in good eating; and a skilful cook, who understands how to oblige his guests, will contrive to make it as expensive as they please.

Sixthly, This would be a great inducement to marriage, which all wise nations have either encouraged by rewards, or enforced by laws and penalties. It would encrease the care and tenderness of mothers towards their children, when they were sure of a settlement for life to the poor babes, provided in some sort by the publick, to their annual profit instead of expence. We should soon see an honest emulation among the married women, which of them could bring the fattest child to the market. Men would become as fond of their wives, during the time of their pregnancy, as they are now of their mares in foal, their cows in calf, or sow when they are ready to farrow; nor offer to beat or kick them (as is too frequent a practice) for fear of a miscarriage.

Many other advantages might be enumerated. For instance, the addition of some thousand carcasses in our exportation of barrel’d beef: the propagation of swine’s flesh, and improvement in the art of making good bacon, so much wanted among us by the great destruction of pigs, too frequent at our tables; which are no way comparable in taste or magnificence to a well grown, fat yearly child, which roasted whole will make a considerable figure at a Lord Mayor’s feast, or any other publick entertainment. But this, and many others, I omit, being studious of brevity.

IMG_1889Supposing that one thousand families in this city, would be constant customers for infants flesh, besides others who might have it at merry meetings, particularly at weddings and christenings, I compute that Dublin would take off annually about twenty thousand carcasses; and the rest of the kingdom (where probably they will be sold somewhat cheaper) the remaining eighty thousand.

I can think of no one objection, that will possibly be raised against this proposal, unless it should be urged, that the number of people will be thereby much lessened in the kingdom. This I freely own, and ’twas indeed one principal design in offering it to the world. I desire the reader will observe, that I calculate my remedy for this one individual Kingdom of Ireland, and for no other that ever was, is, or, I think, ever can be upon Earth. Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients: Of taxing our absentees at five shillings a pound: Of using neither cloaths, nor houshold furniture, except what is of our own growth and manufacture: Of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury: Of curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our women: Of introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence and temperance: Of learning to love our country, wherein we differ even from Laplanders, and the inhabitants of Topinamboo: Of quitting our animosities and factions, nor acting any longer like the Jews, who were murdering one another at the very moment their city was taken: Of being a little cautious not to sell our country and consciences for nothing: Of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants. Lastly, of putting a spirit of honesty, industry, and skill into our shop-keepers, who, if a resolution could now be taken to buy only our native goods, would immediately unite to cheat and exact upon us in the price, the measure, and the goodness, nor could ever yet be brought to make one fair proposal of just dealing, though often and earnestly invited to it.

Therefore I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, ’till he hath at least some glympse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice.

But, as to my self, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal, which, as it is wholly new, so it hath something solid and real, of no expence and little trouble, full in our own power, and whereby we can incur no danger in disobliging England. For this kind of commodity will not bear exportation, and flesh being of too tender a consistence, to admit a long continuance in salt, although perhaps I could name a country, which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it.

After all, I am not so violently bent upon my own opinion, as to reject any offer, proposed by wise men, which shall be found equally innocent, cheap, easy, and effectual. But before something of that kind shall be advanced in contradiction to my scheme, and offering a better, I desire the author or authors will be pleased maturely to consider two points. First, As things now stand, how they will be able to find food and raiment for a hundred thousand useless mouths and backs. And secondly, There being a round million of creatures in humane figure throughout this kingdom, whose whole subsistence put into a common stock, would leave them in debt two million of pounds sterling, adding those who are beggars by profession, to the bulk of farmers, cottagers and labourers, with their wives and children, who are beggars in effect; I desire those politicians who dislike my overture, and may perhaps be so bold to attempt an answer, that they will first ask the parents of these mortals, whether they would not at this day think it a great happiness to have been sold for food at a year old, in the manner I prescribe, and thereby have avoided such a perpetual scene of misfortunes, as they have since gone through, by the oppression of landlords, the impossibility of paying rent without money or trade, the want of common sustenance, with neither house nor cloaths to cover them from the inclemencies of the weather, and the most inevitable prospect of intailing the like, or greater miseries, upon their breed for ever.

IMG_1891

I have no children, by which I can propose to get a single penny; the youngest being nine years old, and my wife past child-bearing.

Remember That Smell

A couple of weeks ago, we watched an old movie with the kids.  First time in maybe twenty years I’d seen it.  Our oldest son had been talking about space, aliens, galaxies far, far away.  Could there be life out there, somewhere?  So we rented E.T., popped some corn, settled back.  As with all old movies, there were bits I remembered, sections I’d forgotten.  Maybe you remember this scene, the one where Elliot saves the frogs?  He and E.T. have gotten their wires crossed somehow, so that when the toady little alien downs a six pack, Elliot ends up drunk.  When Elliot stares down at his science-class dissection project, tender-hearted E.T. incites a revolution.  Soon Elliot has set a dozen frogs loose, and his classmates gleefully join in, throwing the lucky amphibians willy-nilly from the window.

Who didn’t smile to see the frogs go free?

etfrog-thumb-510x271-29546

Then last week, chatting with our youngest son’s science teacher, she reminisced about dissecting frogs, how in her day they’d open them up live, so they could see the beating heart.  “We’d just stick a pin right into its brain and twist it.”  Apparently this rendered the frogs not only motionless, but unable to feel, and before they finished the poor creature off, they chloroformed it for good measure.  Of course, the animal rights people didn’t like it.

We don’t do that any more.

Our culture gets a bad rap for celebrating death, but there are a great many folks from all different political persuasions who celebrate life.  It’s a constant theme in our movies, from E.T. to Charlotte’s Web, or over in the adult aisle, Unbroken, Schindler’s List, Marley and Me.  We root for the vulnerable, the prisoner, the unloved, the oppressed.  We cheer for the underdog and the pet dog.  We revile cruelty, whether embodied by fur coats, Nazis, slavery, or lion hunters.  Anything that tramples and obliterates what is beautiful or helpless or endangered receives the full measure of our American wrath.  But it wasn’t always so.

There was a time in our culture when unwanted kittens were routinely tossed into the river in a burlap sack and drowned.  No one thought much about skinny dogs or abused horses, let alone stray cats.

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Can you imagine the outcry today if they did to puppies what they did to frogs?

A culture that is cruel to animals is usually unkind to people, too.  There was a long, long time in our history when Africans, shackled and stripped, filled the cargo hold of ships.  It was expected that the majority would not make it to the East Indies alive.  In 1829, the Reverend Robert Walsh described a slave ship he’d helped to intercept and set free:

“She had taken in, on the coast of Africa, 336 males and 226 females, making in all 562, and had been out seventeen days, during which she had thrown overboard 55. The slaves were all inclosed under grated hatchways between decks. The space was so low that they sat between each other’s legs and [were] stowed so close together that there was no possibility of their lying down or at all changing their position by night or day. As they belonged to and were shipped on account of different individuals, they were all branded like sheep with the owner’s marks of different forms. These were impressed under their breasts or on their arms, and, as the mate informed me with perfect indifference ‘burnt with the red-hot iron.’”  (“Aboard a Slave Ship, 1829,” EyeWitness to History, http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2000).)

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underwater slave memorial

The beautiful monument in the photo above (created by Jason de Caires Taylor) is located in Grenada’s Moilinere Bay.  It pays tribute to the many, many African people who died en route from West Africa to America.

How did we ever view other human beings as disposable?

I think it happens slowly.  A little meanness, a little envy, a little hatred.  We are careless.  We don’t speak up when we should.  We let things slide.  It’s not so bad, really.

At the end of the day, we are left with the bloody fruit of genocide:  mass graves, twisted bodies, piles and piles of shoes.

shoe pile black and white

That racial hatred, which for so many centuries justified unthinkable violence and perverse sadism, is still alive and well, though it has gone through a metamorphosis of sorts.

We wouldn’t stand for wholesale murder, remorseless torture, or straight-up genocide these days unless it was really, really well-disguised.  If somehow, we believed it was a kindness, if we believed it to be mercy…  If some propaganda convinced us it was harmless, and necessary for our liberty, perhaps it could continue to exist.

It’s hard to even imagine that ordinary Germans could fall for Nazi mythology, could move from happy couples and pretty girls to annihilating an entire race.

How does it happen?

Hang on.  Abortion isn’t comparable to genocide.  It doesn’t target anyone in particular, but is an equal opportunity tragedy.  Right?

“Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in America.  78% of their clinics are in minority communities.  Blacks make up 12% of the population, but 35% of the abortions in America.”  blackgenocide.org

eugenics, noun: the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics.

Well, it’s unfortunate, right?  That so many African-Americans need to resort to abortion.  But it’s not really eugenics, it’s just a sad side effect of poverty.  Coincidence.  And although it’s kinda sad, at least it’s not cruel.

We’ve evolved past all of that.  Right?

Testimony from Holly O’Donnell, a StemExpress technician entrusted with procuring fetal remains, describes a post-abortion procedure that is eerily reminiscent of dissecting frogs.

“So she has one of her instruments, and she just taps the heart, and it starts beating.  And I’m sitting here, and I’m looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating, and I don’t know what to think.”  O’Donnell is instructed to harvest the brain.  Her coworker “gave me the scissors and told me that I had to cut down the middle of the face.”

Is it human?  Is it alive?  Is it an “it”?

At least the frogs were given chloroform.  And I’m thinking, as I see this video, as I hear the horrific description, that we’d never allow this to happen to frogs in a public school science class, not anymore.  We’d never let it happen to a stray dog.  So why do we let it happen to a human being?

compassion, noun: PITY, sympathy, empathy, fellow feeling, care…

Having compassion means to suffer with.  When I am roused to compassion, I feel a pang in my heart accordant with the pain of the person on whom I have compassion.  We Americans, the “milk of human kindness” in our veins, we feel compassion on creatures in distress.  We exert energy to bring justice to end oppression.  We fight for equality.  We cry out for victims, people and animals alike.

Scientifically we have no room to differentiate between unborn and born members of a species.  A tiny being is no less a being than a big one.  A human with fingers, toes, face, gender, beating heart, is it not deserving of our protection?


time magazine prenatal surgery

Oh, my pro-choice friends, I know it’s repugnant to you to see this rash of unscripted videos.  You have believed for so long that abortion is a necessary evil to preserve the freedom of the unfortunate.  But you have been led astray.

margaret sanger

Abortion is evil, on so many levels.  It has specifically been designed and used to rid the population of the poor, of particular racial groups.  It unleashes cruelty and unthinkable horror on the helpless, regardless of race.  It’s presented as a gift to women, who are often manipulated at the moment of their greatest fear and despair.

These videos remind me of a scene from Amazing Grace, the film.  William Wilberforce, the abolitionist, could not evoke the pity of his fellow Englishmen enough to overturn slavery.  At last he resorted to some bait and switch.  To “thank” his well-heeled friends, he offered an afternoon cruise around the harbor, tea served, violins playing.  When they pulled alongside a recently returned slave ship, the stench of death from its cargo hold was overpowering.  Wilberforce stopped the boat.  Out came the handkerchiefs to cover delicate noses.  No! cried he.  “Remember this smell!”  These were the liberal elite of his day, above such disgusting matters.  It took a visceral blow to break through their defenses.

We’ve had a visceral blow this month, images we didn’t want to see, stories we didn’t want to hear.  If ever you’ve spoken out for the rights of frogs and dogs, if ever you’ve rallied for peace, if ever you’ve wept for the casualties of war, now is the time for a tender-hearted revolution.  Maybe a culture that champions the well-being of animals can harness that compassion for human beings.

Remember that smell.