“Just another guy with a blog.  No big whoop.”

August 24, 2009

What's the Story, Morning Glory?

(Courtsey of New Advent)
These long, crazy-looking clouds can grow to be 600 miles long and can move at up to 35 miles per hour, causing problems for aircraft even on windless days.

Known as Morning Glory clouds, they appear every fall over Burketown, Queensland, Australia, a remote town with fewer than 200 residents. A small number of pilots and tourists travel there each year in hopes of “cloud surfing” with the mysterious phenomenon.

Similar tubular shaped clouds called roll clouds appear in various places around the globe. But nobody has yet figured out what causes the Morning Glory clouds.

Yet another reason why I, Patrick Madrid, am not a "cat person"

(Courtesy of my gal pal, the lovely and insightful Mrs. Karen Williams)

It's Time to Invoke the Spirit of Vatican II

“Ordinaries [i.e., diocesan bishops], by the encouragement and favor they show to art which is truly sacred, should strive after noble beauty rather than mere sumptuous display. . . .

“Let bishops carefully remove from the house of God and from other sacred places those works of artists which are repugnant to faith, morals, and Christian piety, and which offend true religious sense either by depraved forms or by lack of artistic worth, mediocrity and pretense” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 124).

Now, Why Can't We Get This Guy As Speaker of the House?

True, this video has been floating around awhile — I first saw it early this year, shortly after it came out — but it's worth watching again (and again, and again).

It takes conservative British MP Daniel Hannan just over three minutes to completely flay Gordon Brown over his government's failed economic policies. The video doesn't show Brown's response, but I am quite confident that he has nowhere near enough firepower to take on Hannan in a serious exchange about this issue.

Imagine if we had a few such gutsy, intelligent, and eloquent orators like this guy serving in the U.S. House and Senate. If we had had just five Hannan-types working for us in Congress, I don't think we would have gotten into the government-issue financial mess we're now in.

Here, here!

Archbishop Charles Chaput: A Man for Our Season

Here's a snippet from my new article on InsideCatholic.com:

My first conversation with Archbishop Charles J. Chaput happened over dinner at a mom-and-pop Chinese restaurant in South Dakota in late 1990. He was the bishop of Rapid City; I was working for Catholic Answers and had been invited to conduct a weekend apologetics conference there. From that first meeting, I could tell immediately that I was in the presence of a truly excellent bishop.

"Bishop Charles," as all the Catholics I met that weekend called him with proud affection, personified "down to earth." He was not merely being polite; he clearly was interested and engaged with those around him, listening thoughtfully and offering insights, advice, and the occasional funny anecdote with an easy joviality that put people at ease, while always maintaining the dignity of his role as shepherd of the flock.

I was impressed with Bishop Charles's humility; his palpable love for Christ and the Church; his quiet, understated wisdom; and his obvious pastoral dedication to the spiritual and physical wellbeing of his flock. I've met many bishops over the years, and I knew from that very first conversation with him that I was in the presence of not just a good bishop, but a great man. . . .

Watch This Mesmerizing Time-Elapse Video of New York City

This fascinating video reminds me a lot of the inner workings of the human body: blood vessels coursing, incessant cellular activity, firing nerve synapses. It is mesmerizing, in part due to the hypnotic Moby soundtrack, but I must admit that, as beautiful as the city is with its myriad pulsating rhythms, watching this video evokes in me somber emotions and memories of 9/11.

What about you?

Spanish Doctors Alarmed by Government Abortion Proposal

I will be in Spain in a few weeks and will get more up-to-date firsthand information about this developing story, but here are the basic details:

High-level officials in the Spanish government are seeking to amend that country's laws to criminalize any physician who refuses to perform abortions. Such a refusal, on any grounds — including religious convictions — would be deemed "civil disobedience" and, if such laws were enacted, would be punishable by imprisonment.

This could be an ominous precursor to a more widespread effort by other governments to criminalize pro-life resistance to abortion. If this is successful in Spain, it is likely that a legally enforceable governmental hostility towards pro-life men and women who stand against the atrocity of abortion will spread rapidly.

By Anna Arco —

Spanish doctors have leapt to the defence of freedom of conscience not to be involved in procuring abortions after a senior minister suggested that refusing to perform an abortion might constitute civil disobedience.

The General Council of Doctors Colleges (OMC) in Spain last week insisted that conscientious objection must be an option after the Spanish minister Francisco Caamaño suggested that refusing to perform an abortion would amount to a crime.

It said that under the radical new abortion legislation that is being fiercely debated in the Spanish parliament doctors might lose the reject to object to performing an abortion. Doctors urgently called for a clause protecting conscience to be included in the law.

In a statement issued on Monday they said: "Conscientious objection for medical reasons can hardly be considered civil disobedience."

Stressing that the only protections for conscience in the existing law dealt with cases relating to the media and the military, the OMC called for "the urgent need for the new abortion law to include during its time in parliament conscientious objection of medical personnel who intervene directly in them, just as it is in almost all countries which have de-penalised abortion.

"In these countries, conscientious objection has become recognised as a specific right, with clauses which prevent discrimination against those physicians who for whatever reasons of conscience refuse to participate in the abortive practices, especially if, as stands in our future law of abortion, it will pass from being a de-penalised crime in certain situations and become a 'right'; the 'right of a woman to abort'."

They said that the right to conscientious objection was "a universal criterion of the medical profession".

They said that conflicts arise when the defence of certain principles come against the rights that have been legally established. For that reason it is important, the doctors argued, "for the freedom of conscience to be legally recognised in the general medicine, not just in the context of abortion - guaranteeing the juridical safety of all including the foetus in the case of abortion".

The statement came after Spain's justice minister said on Spanish television last week that refusing to perform abortions would be punished.

Speaking in an interview last week Mr Caamaño said he did not believe there were more rights to conscientious objection than those expressly established by the constitution or by the legislator in the general courts.

He said: "Personal ideas cannot excuse us from complying the law because, if not, we would arrive in many subjects, in this and many others, to civil disobedience... where there is no law which allows it, I am with the supreme tribunal and its ruling on education for citizens. Conscientious objection does not fit."

Spain is in the throes of a fierce national debate over further liberalisation of the country's abortion laws.

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's government has been at odds with the Church since its election in 2004 over issues such as easing Spain's divorce laws and pushing same-sex marriage. Its plans to make abortions easier have launched by far the most heated debate. Under the proposed legislation women could freely obtain abortions within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Girls as young as 16 could have abortions without requiring parental consent. Women could abort at up to 22 weeks in the case of congenital disorder under the new law, and continue to abort after that if the pregnancy places them in mortal danger.

The Spanish bishops roundly condemned the legislation in July, saying that it was a "serious danger for the common good". They said: "To include abortion in health policy always gravely compromises the medical profession which is distorted when it is placed at the service of death."


Catholic College Students Rise to Defend Belmont Abbey College

Students from the University of Dallas, Franciscan University of Steubenville, De Sales University and Catholic University of America are fighting back.

Students at Catholic universities across the nation are banding together with students at Belmont Abbey College (BAC) in a stand for religious liberty and conscience rights, after the college was warned by the Obama administration last month that its refusal to cover contraception amounted to gender discrimination.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ignited the First Amendment firestorm earlier this month when it ruled Belmont Abbey College was wrong not to include coverage for contraception in its employee health insurance plan, despite the Catholic Church's prohibition on contraception as intrinsically evil. In addition to the Church's teachings against contraception as such, it is known that hormonal contraceptives often function as abortifacients.

According to BAC president William Thierfelder, while the local EEOC initially threw out the complaint, the decision was reversed after the affair went to officials in Washington.

Students from the University of Dallas, Franciscan University of Steubenville, De Sales University and Catholic University of America are fighting back, saying the EEOC decision is a troubling indication of the Obama administration's ideas on "reasonable" conscience protection.

"People need to wake up," said Michael Barnett, American Life League's director of leadership development and its LiveCampus college outreach program. "Under Obama, the federal government is forcing a religious institution to commit an act that violates its core values. This is religious persecution and a clear signal of what Obamacare would bring. This is the government imposing its will against the people's will."

In a letter to the Belmont, the EEOC claimed that the school discriminated against women by not covering contraceptives: "By denying prescription contraception drugs, [the college] is discriminating based on gender because only females take oral prescription contraceptives. By denying coverage, men are not affected, only women."

In a letter subsequently sent to EEOC chairman Stuart Ishimaru, Judie Brown, president of American Life League, pointed out, "The Catholic Church teaches that contraception is an evil and certainly not the sort of 'treatment' one would expect to find in a health insurance plan designed for staff at a Catholic facility. Your discriminatory actions against the college are unfounded and unconstitutional."

William K. Thierfelder, Belmont's president, affirmed that rather than provide contraceptive coverage, "We would close the college."

(continue reading) Read additional info on this developing story.

As the economy worsens, be sure you're laying up treasure in heaven

“Then, they will say to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a strange or naked or sick or imprisoned and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me’” (Matt. 25:44-45).