Archive for the 'Catholicism – Morals' Category

Satan’s switch and trap

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

I just finish watching the movie ‘The Switch’. It’s about a man and a woman who are friends, and are very honest with one another. She decides she can’t wait to find the right guy and is going to be artificially inseminated. He objects, both because he knows that it’s just not the right way to go and because deep down inside he loves her. Long story short (too late!), he switches his semen for the donors while in a very drunk state and doesn’t remember that he did it. Flash forward 7 years and he’s reunited with his friend and the child that is his son and he pieces it back together because the boy is so like him. There’s a key scene where he tells the son that he is proud of him and it really got to me.

Part of it was that longing that every boy has for his father to be proud of him. Having a relationship that is strained by differences in faith makes that hard. Part of it was wanting to make sure my boys knew how proud I am of them. I’m a pretty demanding father, so I worry that I don’t tell them enough how proud I am.

And it got me to thinking, why do we crave that approval?

I think it’s because we desire to overcome our weaknesses and our failures, and our father’s approval helps us to know that at least on some level, we have. But we have another Father who is always ready to forgive us. Our Father in heaven, one that I’ve been having a hard time lately admitting to that I’ve sinned.

I know I’m a sinful man and I know I fail. But sometimes it’s hard to walk into that confessional and admit it. I don’t want Him to be ashamed. I want Him to be proud. I think it’s particularly important to me because as a person who’s very vocal about my faith, the charge of being a hypocrite is something I want to avoid. And as stupid as it is, if I can bury my sins instead of asking forgiveness for them, somehow I convince myself into thinking I can avoid the charge of hypocrite.

And this is the devil’s greatest bait and switch. It is the trap he hopes we will all fall for. He tries to get us to make a choice between two false options. Society is quickly buying into the denial of sin option. There is no such thing as sin. It can be ignored. It can be, to use my earlier word, buried. But when we do that, we give up our right to proclaim truth and the devil has won. Which reveals the other choice, we can be hypocrites. Since we all inevitably fail, we can proclaim truth and fall short of that truth and thus be hypocrites.

It’s no surprise that the charge leveled at the disgraced Christian who’s sins have been revealed is that of hypocrite. Society can’t charge them with sin, because we deny the concept of sin. But it is wrong for the disgraced because they’ve preached against it. They are the hypocrite and they can be disgraced and thus ignored.

These are the two choices the devil gives: deny sin or be a hypocrite. But there is a third option, one the devil will never admit to. It is the one that Christ came to this earth to give us all: To be forgiven.

This is why we long to hear our Father say that He’s proud of us. It’s why we want to tell our children that we are proud of them. It’s not based on some cosmic desire to deny that we’ve failed or to deny the weakness and failings of our children. It’s because we believe deep in our hearts in the power of forgiveness. We know it is possible despite our failings for our Father to be proud of us. To be forgiven.

God in Heaven, I’m a sinful man. Forgive me my sins. Help me to find the nearest confessional to to receive your forgiveness in the healing Sacrament of Reconciliation. It has been far too long. I repent of all that I have done and ask your forgiveness. I promise to strive to sin no more and to be your servant here on earth.

Quick hitters – Taxes, the DMV and hell

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Today’s quick hitters:

  • This whole brouhaha about the Bush tax cuts is fascinating to me. I never thought I’d see the Democratic base turn so quickly on Obama like they have over this. He’s even had to call in former President Clinton to his defense. For what it’s worth, this is an area where I see both sides. I see our deficit and wonder if we can afford to keep taxes so low (and the wealthy are more able to take that hit). On the other hand, the income tax code is already HORRIFICALLY biased towards taking taxes from the wealthy. What I pay in taxes now with 3 kids a big mortgage an only 1 income is less than a tenth, yes you read that right, 10%, of what I paid 10 years ago without the kids and two incomes that was only 50% more than I make today. Heck, I’ll give you round number specifics: I paid around $2k in taxes for 2009 on about $50k of post deduction income ($80k pre-deductions). In 2001, I paid around $30k in taxes on $120k of income (and we had no deductions). An additional $28k in taxes for $40k in increased income!?! Something’s not right with that.
  • There’s a story in today’s Chronicle about a transgender person who’s ticked off because the DMV person who took their gender re-assignment paperwork, took their address and started soliciting them with religious material. Let me go on record as saying it was highly inappropriate of the DMV worker to do that. When it’s your job to preserve someone’s private information for the government (and anyone who takes an address down is), you’ve got to do their job, no matter how deplorable the actions of the person are. The transgender person is absolutely right to object to that.
  • That said, it’s just baffling to me that our society allows people to “change their gender”. What does that even mean? We define sex by our chromosomes… and those can’t be changed. Sure, you can slice off the penis, drill a hole in their pelvis, put breast implants in their chest, and give them hormone injections, but the chromosomes don’t change. At some level I understand why because of our noble insistence on liberty in the US we allow the surgery to go forward (although I can make a compelling argument why our liberties end before that). But there’s no reason why someone’s birth certificate/driver’s license should be able to be changed. Those surgeries didn’t change their fundamentals. While it wasn’t right for the DMV worker to take advantage of their role to notify this person of their perversion, the perversion of the nature of our humanity is quite real, as is the associated risk of hell that goes along with it.

Thoughts on Prop. 8/Gay Marriage ruling

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

I could just write a screed here against Judge Walker and all the things he did wrong today, but in the end, it would just be a stupid post that wouldn’t convince anyone of anything. Those who agree with me would agree and those who don’t, who see the world entirely differently, wouldn’t agree and there would be little point of trying to convince them.

I’ve also given up hope in trying to explain in a forum like this how to see the world through the lens that an understanding Catholic does. People have such strong opinions and won’t spend the time to challenge their preconceptions, not even to change their mind, but even to appreciate seeing the world in a very different way. Again, it wouldn’t accomplish anything.

So what I hope to do in this post is make an admission: We’ve lost the battle.

It’s not the gay marriage battle we’ve lost. That’s just the tail of the dog. What we’ve lost is the argument of what sex is about. We lost it 50 years ago when contraception became socially accepted and the implications of that loss continues to haunt us. Most people who embraced contraception didn’t realize what they were really embracing and so many of them to this day do not realize why others, who have embraced the fullness of what contraception means, are pushing for things they find reprehensible.

But in the end, I can’t argue against gay marriage without going back to the fundamentals: Sex is about procreation. Any sexual act that is not open to procreation resulting, is a disordered sexual act. There’s a ton of objections that will be raised at this point and there’s no way I can address them all in a post or two. But that’s kinda the point. We’re SOOOOO far past arguing about this fundamental premise about the nature of sex, that one can’t even advance the point, even with people who otherwise embrace a Christian worldview, without thousands of words defending the premise.

So I’m writing today not to those who are all for gay marriage. I’m writing today to those who are baffled and upset by the decision, yet embrace contraception. And here’s what I have to say to you:

The battle was lost when you embraced contraception. Once you separated procreation from the sexual act, then obviously, sex not oriented towards procreation was acceptable. Once that sort of sex was acceptable, it was just a matter of time until alternate ways to indulge yourself sexually, from homosexual acts to masturbation, were the next logical step. Once that was acceptable, the lifelong sexual union (aka marriage) was going to be opened to those who had found other ways to sexually gratify themselves.

Sure, it took 50 years for it to happen, but it nevertheless did happen.

So, while I see the world through a very different lens, one where sex is bound to procreation, the reality is that over 90% of my fellow citizens disagree. And since the underpinnings of my argument rest on sex bound to procreation, I can not deny that only 10%, if that, of American citizens embrace the underpinnings of marriage being between a man and a woman. I can not deny that in the way the vast majority of Americans view the world, the gay marriage proponents are right, that in the way society views the world, their unions are not that different from everyone elses.

I refuse to buy into that view, so I will continue to fight against not just gay marriage, but against the idea that procreation and sex can be separated. Whenever that battle is won, we won’t need to fight against “gay marriage”, because “gay marriage” just won’t make any sense, it’ll be as obvious as it was in 1950, when someone who suggested “there’s no tie between marriage and procreation” would be laughed out of court, out of office and out of about any social group. It was as obvious as night and day.

Today it apparently is not so obvious and there’s only one reason: the prevalence of contraception. So I say to all of you who reject gay marriage and wonder how we got here yet embrace contraception: It’s time for you to look in the mirror.

More thought on Utilitarian Bioethics

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Below in my post titled What the “Utilitarians” offer, commenter Shane reasonably rebukes me for speaking too broadly, implying that all atheists agree with Peter Singer and his ilk. Shane was absolutely right that I didn’t properly caveat my statements so it was stated far to broadly. For that, I apologize. From what I’ve seen significant portions of atheists and the vast majority of agnostics do not hold the extreme views of the utilitarian bioethicists like Peter Singer and I apologize for sounding as if I believed that.

However, there is a relationship between atheism and the utilitarian bioethicists that I feel compelled to elaborate on. You will not find religious people advocating for the hyper-darwinian, suffering paranoid ethical positions that people like Singer advance. At the same time, the arguments that Singer and company use are the same arguments that atheists, particularly scientifically oriented ones in general use. While Singer may take them to much further logical extremes than the average atheist, the fact that they’re grounded in the same principles should scare just about everyone, including the atheist who isn’t willing to advance what Singer is.

To be absolutely clear about Singer, while there was a small amount of caricature of Singer in my post (something Shane pointed out as well), I wouldn’t consider it over the top. Who would be willing to deny the following?:

  • Singer advances that elderly and disabled have a moral obligation to kill themselves when they become a burden.
  • Singer thinks both physically and mentally disabled fetuses should be aborted and parents who don’t are doing an injustice to society.
  • Singer thinks infanticide can be justified when pre-natal disabilities are not discovered before birth and the infant can be killed at that point just as they could be aborted before hand.
  • Going further with infants, Singer doesn’t think infants have the rights of “personhood” any more than a cow does.
  • Singer thinks physically and mentally disabled people, even those who are not terminally ill, should have the right to kill themselves.
  • Whether he would encourage them to kill themselves is perhaps stretching it, but Singer dances awful close to that line, crossing it for sure when they become a burden.

These are Singer’s repeatedly stated positions. In the article linked in the post below, he added to it the idea that there’s nothing wrong with the purposeful extinction of the human race through non-reproduction. Just like with encouraging disabled people to kill themselves, while he won’t explicitly state that he things this is a good idea, he dances enough on line without crossing it to know where he’s coming from.

OK, so Singer may be an extreme example, and I concede that many atheists won’t endorse Singer’s extreme positions, but it’s both more common that many would be willing to admit amongst atheists and, and this is the more important point, the philosophical underpinnings are the usually the same.

I purposely chose the cow in my bullet point about infant “personhood” because it’s the animal Dawkins reference to the ethical nature of abortion based on the comparison of the nervous system of a cow and a fetus in TGD. So while Dawkins may not be for infanticide, the reality is that Singer is using the same concepts, the equivalency of animals to our fetuses or our disabled people, to determine whether those human beings have “personhood”, to argue for infanticide.

The underlying concept at play in all of this is human exceptionalism. Human exceptionalism is the idea that a human race is a unique and special species that is set apart from all other species. Only our species is a moral species. This gives every human being special worth, worth beyond that of any other animal.

The alternative is to believe that we are not unique, that being human does not give us particular rights. Instead our worth is determined by our capabilities, both physical and mental. “Personhood” becomes the threshold. “Personhood” is the utilitarian bioethicist’s word to replace “human rights” because they deny that merely being human gives one particular rights. While different groups put the “personhood line” at very different places, some including all sorts of animals as having “personhood” and others thinking only certain humans have “personhood”, they universally believe that certain humans do NOT have “personhood”, even though it may be an extremely small group of humans who miss the cut.

It’s not technically necessary to be religious to believe in human exceptionalism (one could just be observant and see how different we all from all other animals and embrace the idea). At the same time, it IS necessary for religious people, particularly those from western religions, to by definition believe that humanity is special, created by God in a special way and with special worth. Simply stated, just about all religious people believe in human exceptionalism.

Where then does that leave us? Religious, by the very nature of their beliefs will never endorse what Singer does. Atheists, may not be willing to either, but their atheism leaves them open to the possibility. I think it’s important for the average atheist to concede that while they won’t go to the same extremes that Singer does, these utilitarian bioethicists are only able to advance what they do because they deny the existence of God and the exceptional nature of the human race, something that the vast majority of atheists agree on despite being unwilling to take the implications of that statement to its logical extreme.

This is what I was pointing to in my previous post and I believe it to be defensible. Thoughts or rebuttals?

What the “utilitarians” offer

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Dawkins is a scientist who is also an atheist and as most people who fit that description, they have an amazingly “utilitarian” view of humanity. They ask questions like “Isn’t OK to abort a fetus as long as its nervous system is less developed than a cow, since we kill those for food?”

But Dawkins is not alone, in fact, in these areas he’s a follower, not a leader. The leaders of the utilitarian bioethics movement, a movement led almost entirely by atheist scientists, are people like Peter Singer. I’d like you to read a recent article of his in the New York Times:

Just so there’s no confusion, this is the logical extreme of where the atheist scientists want to take us. If you’re suffering at all, your life isn’t worth living. Down Syndrome? None of you please, you’ll just suffer. Old and suffering? Please kill yourself. You’ll stop suffering and we’re really sick of paying the bills so please hurry up and pull the trigger.

And let me be clear: this is no exaggeration. For years I thought it was an exaggeration, but I’ve read enough now to know. Singer, the author of this article is not some random nutjob. Instead he’s considered one of the leading minds in the bioethics field and a highly esteemed professor at Princeton. From Wikipedia:

Peter Albert David Singer (born 6 July 1946) is an Australian philosopher. He is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and laureate professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE), University of Melbourne. He specialises in applied ethics, approaching ethical issues from a secular preference utilitarian perspective.

He has served, on two occasions, as chair of philosophy at Monash University, where he founded its Centre for Human Bioethics. In 1996, he ran unsuccessfully as a Green candidate for the Australian Senate. In 2004, he was recognised as the Australian Humanist of the Year by the Council of Australian Humanist Societies. He has been voted one of Australia’s ten most influential public intellectuals.[1] Singer serves on the Advisory Board of Incentives for Global Health, the NGO formed to develop the Health Impact Fund proposal.

If it weren’t so tragic, I’d find his cynical view of how people look at having children funny. People decide to have kids because what it’ll do for them. “What about ME!?!” And when they don’t, it’s only because the kid’s going to suffer, so we’d better not do it. So let’s just make ourselves extinct.

But his cynical view is just not accurate, or at least it’s not in my family. Just last night when I took my wife out to dinner we were talking about how hard on us it would be to have another kid. How we’re going to have to make sacrifices for the child. But we said, how wonderful it’ll be for that child to have life, to experience all that is beautiful and worth living for.

And even though it wasn’t said at the table, we both believe that a handicapped person is a person who can enjoy life and their life is still worth living, even if it includes pain and suffering. We believe that the human spirit can rise above suffering and pain and do wonderful things.

So this, fellow world citizen, is your choice. You can embrace life as a wonderful thing, even when it’s not “perfect”, like this guy did:

Or you can take the utilitarian atheist scientist view and ask yourself if we’d be better off going extinct as a species because we’re all here just suffering away and life really isn’t worth living. (Or at a minimum let’s get rid of those people, not even let them be conceived, that we’ve determined in advance that their lives won’t be worth living and when we make a “mistake” and they’re born anyway, let’s encourage them to kill themselves.)

Which do you chose?

(Hat Tip: Wesley J. Smith)

50% Proud

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Recently I got the term hypocrite thrown at me, a term that no one likes thrown at them. And the shameful part is that, in this case (and there are others), it was perfectly accurate for them to call me one.

But what occurred to me as I was taking my lumps was that I was being called a hypocrite not to attack the negative thing that I had done, but to attack that which I promote as a Catholic that I had failed to live up to. The point was not to get me to change my sub-optimal actions, the point was to get me to stop promoting the optimal ones. And when I realized that, I realized what was really at stake and I fought back.

I looked up the definition of the word hypocrite. states it this way:

A person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, esp. a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.

If we go by the dictionary definition, I’m not a hypocrite. I don’t “pretend” to have religious beliefs and principles. I very much have them. But I also admit that I fall short of them at times. By that definition, I’m not a hypocrite. At the same time I think the dictionary definition is more precise than the term’s broad use, the way it is most frequently used today. In broad use I would define it this way:

A person who supports one set of behaviors but does not always (or perhaps never) follow them.

I admit to that definition of being a hypocrite. There are times when I do not live up to the standards I create for myself and promote for others. I would never deny that.

But here’s the thing, and the reason for this post:

I’m proud that I promote the standards that I promote and no amount of my falling short of those standards will shame me into no longer promoting those standards.

So, I’m 50% proud to be a hypocrite. I’m proud that I stand up for what is right. I’m ashamed that I don’t always life up to it. I’m convinced that what I promote is right and good. I’m ashamed that I don’t always do what is right and good. I will do every thing in my power to continue to be a voice in society that encourages others to do the right thing. I fear, in fact I’m nearly downright confident, that I’ll continue to fall short of those same standards.

You can call me what you want. You can point out my hypocrisy. (I’ll even agree with you.) You can call me a hypocrite. You can mock me and deride me, but I will not be stopped. I refuse to ignore the truth. I refuse to stop sharing the truth. I refuse to be ashamed of promoting the truth. Plainly stated:

I’m 50% proud to be a hypocrite.

The concept of legal privileges

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

(NOTE: This is a post that originally was posted on my Cal blog, Excuse Me For My Voice. Because that blog is host to both Jason Snell and myself, I have moved this post to here, to remove any implication that I spoke for the both of us. The first 4 comments are also moved and so reflect having been posted on the other site (particularly #4).)

I want to talk about a matter of significant importance, one that it amazes me just how few people, including the justices of the California Supreme Court, seem to recognize.

This matter has nothing to do with religion, as I suspect most of my readers would guess that my perspective on the subject would guess, but simple logic and the principles on which this country is founded. In this post you will find no references to God.

The principle not only affects the immediate issue I’m going to discuss, gay marriage, but a myriad of other political topics, both conservative and liberal leaning, on which the country has been heading the wrong direction.

The principle is called legal privileges.

The word “rights” is thrown around these days with amazing abandon. Everybody has a “right” to an amazing number of things, if you believe the various pundits out there. We’ve got the right to affordable gas, health care, owning a car, to get various medical procedures, to do business with others whether or not the other party wants to, to own a home, to a free education, the list goes on and on.

The problem is that none of things are rights. Rights are things that all humans deserve. They are not granted by a government. They transcend every location and generation. They are inherent to the fact that we are alive and human. In fact, the declaration of independence makes this very clear:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The point is that rights are not granted by the government, they are upheld by the government.

As such, the list of rights we all have are few but broad in implication. We have the right to live out the course of our natural lives. We have the right to work to obtain the means to continue living (air, water, food and shelter). We have the right to freely associate with others. We have the right to believe what we want. We have the right not to be discriminated against because of who we are, as is separate from our actions. Really that’s about the limit of our fundamental rights. These rights transcend all governments.

Certain governments, including ours, extend additional rights to their people, rights that although not fundamental, make for a better society. Rights that likely make it easier for people to keep their fundamental rights. The right to freely publish and the right to bear arms fall within this set of extended rights. We in the United States are granted a number of these rights.

In any case, whether rights are fundamental, and thus apply to every human being, or extended, and then only apply to those within the government that has established them, rights are things that apply to EVERYONE.

All of this is a very long introduction to the concept of legal privileges. I wish I didn’t have to spell these things out so explicitly because it seems self-evident to me (and apparently to the founders of our country), but it apparently is no longer evident to the general public and much of the judicial system.

Legal privileges are things that either only apply to subsets of the population or if applied universally, can be regulated or limited in their application. All of our laws, that which is not in the Constitution, are legal privileges. Things like all of our social services, tax breaks, public services like fire protection, libraries and emergency relief, inheritance privileges, education, all of these things are legal privileges that the government has granted a wide swath of the public. Similarly all of the regulations that exist, how we must build a house (or stadium), speed limits and drivers licenses, banking rules, incorporation rules and the rest, they can not infringe on our rights and be just or legal regulations. These privileges and their corresponding restrictions are granted by the government for the good of the people. It is the government’s job (and in a democracy the people are responsible for making the government do its job) to decide what legal privileges and what restrictions are wise and for what reason.

All of this finally brings me to the topic of gay marriage.

Marriage, in the legal sense, is a privilege, not a right. If it were a right, the government would be forced to find the ugliest, poorest, meanest jerk of a man someone to marry him if he desired marriage. If it were a right, it could be denied to no one, not criminals, not polygamists, not gay people.

But marriage is a legal privilege. It is a set of laws that the government created with the purpose of giving privileges and protections to a man and a woman who come together to live together as one legal entity. These privileges include tax breaks, medical decision making power, inheritance incentives and other legal privileges.

As such, it is also perfectly acceptable for the government to regulate marriage and limit its applicability. There is no basis for a court stating that certain people, who don’t fit the definition of the privilege by their actions or fall outside the regulations created, have a “right” to that privilege. It just doesn’t make any sense to say that. Nobody has a right to a privilege.

Is that clear?

The final thing I’d like to reference is the commonly used argument attempting to equate the issue of gay marriage and inter-racial marriage. If you go way back to the top of this post you’ll see that one of the fundamental rights is not to be “discriminated against because of who we are, as is separate from our actions”. This is the factor that differentiates between inter-racial marriage and gay marriage. In inter-racial marriage the man and woman involved are not different in nature from a same-race marriage. Their actions are also the same and can fit within the same regulation on marriage.

Gay marriage is entirely different. Men and woman are not the same. It is acceptable to make laws regulating men from going into the women’s bathroom. As such, a marital relationship between a man and a woman is by the nature of the fact that men and women are different, a different type of a relationship than two men or two women. The actions in which that couple can engage, are again different. The most obvious example is that two men and two women can not duplicate the sexual activity of a man and a woman. They can simulate, but not duplicate.

As such, that is the inter-racial marriage comparison is a false comparison.

Gay “marriage”

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

With the California Supreme Court hearing arguments last week on whether it violates the California Constitution to disallow gay “marriage”, I thought it was wise to remind everyone things that the pro-gay agenda wants everyone to forget:

  1. Marriage is a legal privilege, not a right. The goverment is allowed to extend privileges (like say tax breaks) to groups who do things that they desire (and thus limit who has access to those privileges).
  2. It is desireable that all children be raised by BOTH their biological parents
  3. No gay couple can BOTH be the biological parents of a single child
  4. Marriage is an institution that encourages sexual couples to remain together for their life and therefore will raise together whatever children result from that union.

Pretty simple, yes? Government wants children raised by biological parents and gives benefits of marriage to those’s union has the potential to create those children. Gays can’t be biological parents, so gays can’t get married.

A further point:

When the government gives legal protections to a group, that convers certain things. It’s not just being tolerant of something, it’s ENDORSING that thing. It is a completely reasonable thing, speaking governmentally in a free society, that both gay people think their is nothing wrong with their behavior and that other people think their behavior is immoral. If the government says that gay “marriage” is acceptable, it is effectively saying that it is unacceptable for people to think gay “marriage” is immoral. When inter-racial marriage was finally allowed (and obviously good thing) it was a statement that other races are equal to whites. It is NOT ACCEPTABLE in the US to think that being black or hispanic (or pick your race) is a lesser race than whites. The same thing would happen with gay “marriage”.

As can be seen from countries like Canada where preachers are brought before “human rights commissions” for reading from the Bible, it is not acceptable in a society that allows freedom of religion to allow gay “marriage” and all that goes along with it. Gay “marriage” will lead to the outlawing of certain Christian beliefs.

Infant left in car in Concord

Friday, July 27th, 2007

This is my first non-Cal Bears post in a while.  I’ve been in a rut blogging wise since most of my blog readers are Bear fans.  I’ve got some plans in place to change how things are organized and better split out the two sets of blogging.

But yesterday there was an article in the Chronicle about a man who forgot to take his 11 month old son to daycare and left him in the car while he worked.  He wasn’t discovered until 7 hours later when he was dead.

Obviously this is a tragic situation.  Many have asked how it is possible to forget a child in the car.  In many ways I can understand both sides of that.  On the one hand, I can’t imagine doing it.  On the other hand, I know how life can be and how it is easy to get in auto-pilot.  Along those lines there was an interesting comment in one of the articles about the incident:

But the number of deaths began a steady climb in the mid-1990s as campaigns began encouraging parents to put car seats in the backseat because of airbag-related child deaths — which since have been nearly eliminated.

It always amazes me how often we as a society forget how tightly inter-related things can be.  We move all kids into the back seat for safety reasons, and then more kids die because they’re forgotten in the back seat.  In this case it is safe to assume that more kids were dying from airbag injuries so it was probably still the right decision to put kids in the back seat.  That said, it amazes me how often we forget that new laws have unintended consequences.

The other thing I wanted to note was the large number of individuals who assert some eugenic solution to bad parenting, either in general or in this particular case.  It’s amazing just how prevalent the “people need to take a test to be a parent” ideology comes out.  Occasionally those comments are people exagerating, but I’ve found more and more, as can be seen by the very specific implementation ideas they put forth, the proponent is all too serious.  When one adds in those who think this father’s punishment should be sterilization… it just sickens me how many people have not learned from our past about the dangers of Eugunics.

Father’s day column

Friday, June 15th, 2007

This is a hilarious column about how Dad’s get the shaft compared to Mom’s and mother’s day.

While the column is entirely light hearted and not intended to be any treatise on being a good father, the comments on the article at got surprisingly nasty.  Comments about how “too bad you’re kids suck” or whining from fathers about what they did or didn’t get that just isn’t funny.  But one comment struck me as true, although way too negative for such a light-hearted column:

Dads are for giving not getting… I don’t need from the kids I give to the kids. Someday they’ll know this and appreciate it. Hallmark moments are for the ladies…

While I think mothers also get great joy in giving to their children and the “Hallmark moment” statement is over the top, I think it is very different for fathers than mothers.  For mothers, I think providing has a much more emotional aspect to it and a more protective manifestation.  For fathers, providing is much more material and concrete.  Men really do like to provide for the family.  I’ve found it to be true myself.  In fact, it’s surprised me just how important it is to me to be able to provide for my family and the offense I take when I find myself unable to provide or I get criticism of what I provide.  Said another way, I take great pride in it.

Before my favorite blog critics jump in and call me sexist, I’m not at all saying that a woman isn’t capable of materially providing for a family.  Nor am I saying that it is wrong for a woman to work or for her to make more than her husband.  Nor am I saying that it is intrinsically wrong for a man to stay home and take care of the kids.

What I am saying is that I think men are “wired” in such a way that they take great pleasure in providing both the material and moral foundation for their family.  When I think of what I most appreciate about my dad and what I goal for in being a dad it always comes back to the lessons I learned from him (moral foundation) and the sacrifices he made to make sure that I always had a roof over my head (material foundation) until I graduated from college, debt free I might add.  Those foundations made me into the man and father I am and I pray that I can continue good a father and husband for the rest of my days.

What do I want for father’s day?  I don’t want a gift or a bad golfer card (an aspect of the column I found particuarly funny), I want the satisfaction of watching my children play freely in the backyard knowing they are safe and provided for, knowing that I gave that to them.