Monday, January 31, 2005

European "progress" again

According to the Telegraph, now that prostitution is legalized in Germany, it's a valid job for employers to seek people off the unemployment rolls. Meaning, if you don't accept a job as a prostitute, you can lose your welfare benefits. Now, I'm generally in favor of welfare-to-work programs, but this is offensive. The government should not be able to exercise coercive power to push poor people into immoral "work":

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit . . . "There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry," said Merchthild Garweg, a lawyer from Hamburg who specialises in such cases. "The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits."

Tatiana Ulyanova, who owns a brothel in central Berlin, has been searching the online database of her local job centre for recruits. "Why shouldn't I look for employees through the job centre when I pay my taxes just like anybody else?" said Miss Ulyanova.

Why not, indeed. Interesting how what the law says helps shape what a culture can look at as moral or immoral, no? The reason Germany decriminalized prostitution was, of course, originally high-minded, as "the government believed that this would help to combat trafficking in women and cut links to organised crime." But women are hurt by prostitution no matter whether it's legal or illegal: it is inherently degrading to sell your body for sex. It's dangerous physically, it already exploits and hurts poorer women disproportionately, and it isn't usually a benign "consensual" exercise. Making "sex work" legitimate only means that the government has a much harder time protecting women (like those who have been trafficked from Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia) who actually are trapped in such jobs. If the "work" is legitimate and regulated, who is any woman with regular wages to complain?

Germany again: "The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars." Note to German government: in one job you have to pour drinks; in the other you have to sell your body as if you were a mere commodity. Seems like an easy distinction to me.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The courage to suffer contempt

Justice Scalia recently gave a great speech to a Louisiana K of C group, telling those present that they had "no greater model" for living their faith than St. Thomas More, the patron saint of lawyers. Scalia said that while the world may regard belief in Christianity as ridiculous, "intellect and reason need not be laid aside for religion," suggesting that our faith is both defensible and worth defending:

"If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world."

Cool stuff. The "sophisticated world" does tend to look down its collective nose at those who are religious, particularly those who seem to have (code word alert) "deeply held beliefs." See, e.g., the filibuster of William Pryor or the shunning of Rocco Buttiglione. Justice Scalia has no doubt had more than his fair share of encounters with this attitude (such as at every law school he's probably ever been to), so it's nice to see him so cheerful about the subject.

(Thanks to Daily Contentions for the link.)

Letting it all hang out

I saw this, and my first reaction was: You call this a dress?

Xcite, a dress-design company, has put out for prom season this year a dress that appears to have only two strips of fabric for the top half. So far, most parents appear to be saying they're scandalized, but the ones who are buying it and say "sure, if she wants to wear it why should I stop her?" are cause for serious concern, in my opinion. (You should stop her because, oh, I don't know, you don't want your teenage daughter to look like she does pornography?)

On further review, it looks like the NY Post may by hyping the shock factor by wearing the dress backwards (hmm), but even the right way it still shows way more than 16-year-olds who aren't on their way into the Oscars should be showing at a dance. Either way, most schools have their own dress codes and wouldn't let these in the door. Sounds like the right policy to me.

Friday, January 28, 2005

In the most holy name of Science

I've written before that I don't think we should allow even the "leftover" embryos from fertility clinics to be handed over for embryonic stem cell research (which research necessarily results in the death of the embryos). Part of the reason is that once you accept the principle that in some cases ESCR could be okay, there could be financial incentives to deliberately create extra embryos, clone new embryos, manipulate and create embryos with specific diseases for "study," and finally drop the pretense of only using "leftovers" to simply create and destroy embryos at will. Well, this article lets us know now that "a US human genetics clinic says it has developed 18 new lines of disease-carrying embryonic stem cells and is offering them to researchers eager to study their potential for treating inherited diseases." That's right -- custom designed disease-carrying embryonic stem cell lines, available for study for just a "nominal fee." We are told that this fertility clinic "developed the lines in its work screening embryos for couples who are at risk of passing on genetic diseases and wish to have children."

So the questions arise. How many disease-carrying embryos had to be destroyed in the process of creating these lines? Did couples undergoing the treatments know that some of the embryos they created would be expressly destroyed for research? Isn't it just a little bit creepy that the researchers selected only the diseased ones (hey, they would have died anyway, and even if they'd gone on to be implanted and born they wouldn't have had the highest quality of life)?

The scientists are excited that these new cell lines give them "an opportunity to study diseases in ways never done before - practically from the moment of conception." Yep. Except they waited until after conception had happened, and then killed the unique embryos in the process of "developing lines." It's pretty easy once you get past the killing part.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Buyer's remorse

Well, not exactly. Is it possible to have buyer's remorse before you've even bought something? As I read through the regular real estate chats on the Post website, it's hard not to wish I was four years older and had finished law school and bought a condo then:

Fairfax, Virginia: My wife and I bought our house in December 2000 for $250,000. We are in the process of selling it for $1,000,000, which makes $750,000 capital gain. I do know that we are excluded $500,000 from tax. My question: is there any way to avoid the rest of the profit ($250,000). Thanks

Is he kidding? Good gosh. And even if you didn't manage to get 400% appreciation in four years, the market still appreciated 20% last year. Loco.

Yes, I spend more time clicking around online than reading for class . . . so okay, I suppose I better go read for Nonprofits . . . :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Site matters

Thanks very much to Dawn Eden for her link to my post on abstinence the other day, and welcome to Dawn Patrol readers. It's great to have you :) I also wanted to say thank you to Justin Katz for mentioning me on his list of top blogs -- I am honored! -- and to A Certain Slant of Light for the kind words about my site.

I appreciate all of my readers tremendously, so thanks for stopping by :)

Energy for life

The March for Life -- held every year in the bleak January cold of Washington -- again drew more than a hundred thousand people in support of human life and in opposition to the judicially imposed regime of abortion on demand. The energy and hope of all the people at the march, many of them young people from high schools, parish youth groups, and colleges around the country, is always exciting to see. My younger brother was there with a 100+ strong contingent from Notre Dame. This brother and sister came from a parish in Pennsylvania to support the pro-life cause, having a particular reason for opposing abortion: they were both adopted. It was also nice to see that the president put in a strong word in his call to the marchers (though I hope someday he'll attend in person) and especially to hear from Sen. Brownback, who told the crowd, "The end of abortion on demand in America has begun." (Many Democrats, including "faithful" Catholic Nancy Pelosi, decried the "anti-choice" sentiment in separate statements.) People participated in Mass and other services throughout the day:

Yesterday's march began with a morning youth rally and Catholic Mass at MCI Center, where Christian pop bands and singers greeted thousands of antiabortion advocates. They came from as far away as California to participate in the Mass, presided over by Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop of Washington.

"The most important thing is the search for the guarantee of life," McCarrick told the crowd, which appeared to nearly reach the arena's 20,000-seat capacity. "The desire to have a pro-life generation in America is not fading out."

Buses from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina and Ohio filled the streets surrounding MCI Center, disgorging hundreds of youths and their adult chaperones, who filled the arena with an exuberant cacophony.

Pro-Life Blogs has a round-up of abortion-related posts from yesterday, as does After Abortion. And Amy Welborn has a great post challenging the often-unchallenged pro-choice assumptions that those against abortion are a monolithic, reactionary group who don't care about women or children:

The vast majority of the resources of the pro-life movement are dedicated to direct assistance and education. There are thousands of Crisis Pregnancy Centers, hundreds of Catholic Charities and other religious groups that operate out of a reverence for all life and deep compassion for women, girls and families in difficult situations. I guarantee that when you (again) actually get your tail down to be in the midst of pro-life activists, you will find a overflow, not of idealogues, but of hardy, hopeful, but always haunted realists who are trying their best to love and bring hope into tough situations.

Epidemiology and more realities of sex

Following up to my last post on pregnancy and abstinence: A fascinating, if distressing, study conducted by sociologists at Ohio State reveals a chain of teenage sexual behavior at one Midwestern high school that involved 288 people. As the researchers point out, the study reminds that even when a person thinks she's sleeping with just one partner, she may actually be sleeping with everyone that person ever had sex with.

They found a chain of 288 one-to-one sexual relationships at a high school in the U.S. Midwest, meaning the teenager at the end of the chain may have had direct sexual contact with only one person, but indirect contact with 286 others.

"From a student's perspective, a large chain like this would boggle the mind," said sociologist James Moody, who led the study. "They might know that their partner had a previous partner. But they don't think about the fact that this partner had a previous partner, who had a partner, and so on."

It's something worth thinking about. If someone was chewing a piece of gum, would you take it out of their mouth and start chewing it? And even if you'd do that once, would you watch if three or four people in a row chewed the same piece of gum and then put it in your own mouth? Most of us won't even sip out of the same cup as a friend, much less a stranger. So why should sex be different? It's actually much more risky than drinking from the same cup. After all, we might catch a common cold by drinking the same Coke, but 60 million people have sexually transmitted diseases in America, with (according to this study) 12 million new cases every year. The most common, herpes and HPV, are chronic and incurable, and HPV can cause cervical cancer and sterility. Why do we put ourselves at risk for this? It's because society has embraced the myth that sex can be consequence-free, if we just use "protection." Funny how that doesn't always seem to play out. That is, I don't think 60 million people missed the "safe sex" message -- I think we can safely assume many know about responsible decision-making and try to practice it -- and I don't think all 60 million people were being promiscuous. Like the students at this high school, many may have thought they were taking sex seriously in only sleeping with one or two people (maybe in serious relationships -- though the average high school relationship lasts less than four months). But it was still outside of marriage, with no commitment for life to just one person.

The study dances around the conclusion that abstinence, rather than safe sex, might be the ideal way to deal with information like this:

This means that teens need a different approach to sexual health education and especially prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, the team at Ohio State University said. [Ed: Like . . . abstinence?]

"The students in this network are not unusual. They are just average students, and not extremely active sexually. So social policies that could help some of them protect themselves from STDs [Ed: like . . . abstinence?] could break a lot of these chains that can lead to the spread of disease," Moody said.

Moody thinks that "[a]nything that limits that and restricts the flow of body fluids between people would help," and does admit that includes abstinence, but also condom use and unspecified "other policies." But we're talking about teenagers here, at least in this study. Why not teach the most effective means of "restricting the flow of bodily fluids" -- that is, not exchanging them at all? If a man and a woman commit to reserving sex until marriage, they would each only have sex with each other -- not, unknowingly and unintentionally, with 288 other people. That would be a pretty effective defense against sexually transmitted diseases, I should think.

The rest of the study makes for fairly interesting reading (see p.58 for the structural map of relationships). For parents, one note would be that out-of-school sexual partners were an average of three years older than the high school student, at least indicating that parental anxiety about (usually) older men dating their high school daughters is well-founded. (This statement was extremely disturbing, though, and appeared to warrant no comment (!) by the researchers: "[O]ne out-of-school sexual partner of two girls was 39 years old." Did they check on the local rape laws?!) Another point was that among self-described virgins, many still engaged in sexually risky behavior, indicating that a fuller understanding of chastity might be necessary. But again, the best conclusion to draw from a study like this is that even if a person thinks he's being careful, having sex outside marriage puts him at risk in many ways -- so abstinence until marriage is still the healthiest option all around.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Sanctity of life

Today I attended the baptism of a dying baby boy. This occasion, a true celebration of life here on earth and the promise of life everlasting, was beautiful and difficult all at the same time. With the immediate family surrounded by their own lively families, friends, and community members, it was easy to feel the presence of what the mother recognized as the Body of Christ. Yet thinking too much about how short this child's life is likely to be brought many tears. Children simply aren't supposed to die -- but in this child's short life he has already done so much to bring family and community together in prayer and appreciation for the gift of life that it's really amazing.

On this weekend, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, it is well to remember that all children deserve a chance at life, even though we have no guarantees about what that life may be like or how long it will last. God's plan for each of us may not be knowable, but it is certain that He does have a plan for us nonetheless, and it is not for any human being to end another's life. Every life, no matter how small, has so much value! And every mother deserves our support. As thousands march tomorrow in opposition to the legalized holocaust of the 40 million unborn we have lost in 32 years, please join with them in prayer that we as a society can come to respect life more fully, to see the value inherent in even the smallest and most vulnerable members of our society. As Mother Teresa said, "Every child is a sign of God's love. A child is the greatest of God's gifts." May we always appreciate this truth.

Sideline note

I was pulling for the Steelers this evening, but even so I have to say: I'm pretty happy have to have Charlie Weis as the next Notre Dame coach. Can he bring in that effective an offense to us? Very nice.

Drugs and the desaparecidos

Alarming story from the Post today about increased violence along the Mexican border at Laredo/Nuevo Laredo. The drug cartels, which used to restrict violent activities more to the Mexican side of the border (not like that's any better), are now more likely to kidnap or attack Americans on both sides. Here's part of the problem:

Twice last year, the Mexican government sent soldiers to patrol the streets of Nuevo Laredo. Traffickers are armed with AK-47 assault rifles, grenade launchers and bazookas, outgunning and intimidating local police, and 11 local officers have been killed since 2002.

How do you help establish the rule of law in a country where even good men can't say no to bribes because they're so in fear for their lives and the lives of their families? How can you establish the rule of law where the criminals can outgun the authorities? It's amazing how much this organized crime, funded by huge amounts of drug money, can terrorize. The Mexican government has got to get a better handle on the situation and somehow break up these gangs, just as much as we have had to put the Mafia out of business in other countries. It can't be an easy task, but cutting off shipments of weapons, eliminating drug production centers, shutting off access to the drug money -- all of that has to be involved somehow. With kidnappings for ransom and murders common throughout Latin America, and increasingly more so in Mexico, the situation is very worrying.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Grandmas for sex: because let's get real

NARAL grandmother Karen Cooper, worried about the abortion rights of her grandchildren, takes to the op-ed page to give her take on a familiar refrain: there's no possible way, in today's world, that anyone can seriously think people might be abstinent until marriage. So we need "comprehensive" sex ed (like the Planned Parenthood kind?), birth control (including abortion, presumably, since birth control tends to fail), and emergency contraception (which can also be an abortifacient). Here's her argument:

The abstinence-only-until-marriage model that anti-choice leaders advocate is actually a call to return to the 1950s when women married at 18 to 20 years old. This is not a model for the 21st century, when half of the students in law school and medical school are women.

As a proponent of the abstinence-only-until-marriage model, I must correct Cooper's assessment of what it "actually" means. It doesn't have anything to do with the 1950s; it has to do with an understanding of what the ideal context for sexual relationships is, in terms of physical, emotional, psychological, and even spiritual health. Sex is the most intimate relation a man and a woman can have, a total gift of self to another. It can be taken casually, abused, or reduced to a mere impersonal physical action in actual practice, but this often has negative consequences emotionally, relationally, and physically (this can be true even if sex is taken seriously, but still outside marriage). And it can, by its nature as the human reproductive act, also result in children -- new life. Ideally, a proper understanding of and respect for others as human beings -- and for potential life that can be created -- suggests that sex should be reserved for marriage, where a couple has committed themselves to each other for life and so have created the best context for full openness between them and for any children that may be born. It's certainly possible to have sex outside of marriage -- the vast majority of people do, of course, in our society. But they haven't done it without consequences -- epidemic STD rates, a 33% out-of-wedlock childbirth rate, 1 million abortions per year, and inability to form solid relationships as evidenced by a high divorce rate. What's the best way to get away from all of this? Save sex for marriage. It may not have been the case in America since the 1950s, but that doesn't mean we need to return to the 1950s -- the model could work just fine today, if we taught children the true value and meaning of sex, and valued abstinence until marriage as a society.

I find it interesting Cooper focuses on law and medical students as an example here of those who are wanting (apparently) both to have sex and not to have children. If these students (still a very small percentage of all women) were to become pregnant -- as does happen in spite of all that comprehensive sex education NARAL advocates and these educated women undoubtedly know about -- surely they would be in the best position of all women to be able to take care of a child? Abortion is "needed" least for these.

In 1953, the average age of first marriage for women was 20; by 2003 the average age of first marriage for women had risen to 25. In 1970, 42 percent of first-time brides were teenagers; by 1990 just 17 percent of first-time brides were teenagers. Most of us consider this progress; we recognize that women are marrying later because they are completing college and often graduate school first. We also understand that better-educated women (like men) are far less likely to live in poverty.

Do any of us really think that young people will remain totally abstinent until their mid to late 20s when they finish college or graduate school? Of course not. The abstinence-only-until-marriage model that anti-choice leaders and politicians advocate doesn't make sense in today's world where the average age of first marriage is 25.

"Of course not." The implicit statement here is that not only do most people not remain abstinent until marriage, but it would be absurd to want otherwise, since not having sex whenever you feel you want to is practically unnatural. Now, I'm not saying it's not difficult, sometimes, to remain committed to waiting until marriage. It's true people do have strong desires and it is different now that people are waiting longer to get married, often for the good reason that they are pursuing educations. But it's not absurd to want to help reshape a society where young people do remain abstinent until marriage, even though it's a bit later in life -- because again, sex isn't just an impersonal, consequence-free physical action:

We like to believe that birth control means that we can totally separate sex from procreation, but a few million of those dreaded "unintended pregnancies" per year belies that myth. The truth is, unless a woman is prepared for the possibility of pregnancy, she simply shouldn't have sex; if she wants to have sex (for any reason, serious or casual) she shouldn't be unduly surprised if a pregnancy occurs. Put aside all the physical and emotional effects of sex as well -- we need to stop telling teenagers, and pretending as adults, that sex can be completely separated from pregnancy. Abstinence education helps stress that because procreation is one natural outcome of sex, sex should be reserved until the time when any children born could be best taken care of. Most often, that time is marriage. In the meantime, the thing about abstinence is, it's 100% effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy. If Ms. Cooper really wants to prevent unintended pregnancies, she should worry less about abortion, and more about what works.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Tony Rickey is experiencing a dilemma: it's cold, law school lends itself to a sedentary lifestyle, thus there's "more of me than really is ideal" and he knows he needs to exercise -- but he has a fear of gyms.

I completely empathize, though in my case the problem has been compounded by a general dislike of exercise (that is, I like the feeling of exertion after exercise is done, but not the actual exercising part). I usually feel about as un-athletic as you can get, which tended to set me at odds with my classmates in college, where about 94% of my class had done a varsity sport in high school (as for me . . . student newspaper, anyone?). I don't derive any enjoyment from running. I like spending lots of time at the computer or reading. I like being warm and not going outside in the cold. And I feel self-conscious at gyms.

But since the time changed a couple of months ago and I realized I needed to snap out of my winter funk, I made some decisions to finally overcome my phobia. So I hope Tony doesn't mind if I share some tips, along with his other commenters. First, you don't have to wear anything that special to a gym. Especially if you're a guy -- t-shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes seem to do fine. Accordingly, there's no need to shell out $250 on gym clothes. I spent about $25 at Target getting some yoga pants and a top, and it seems to work fine. As with dancing, it's important to remember that no one's looking at you anyway; they're doing their own thing. Second, all the gym machines can be intimidating, but at my gym they all have little diagrams describing how to use them and showing what muscle groups they work. I just decided to get over the fact that I might look silly, and I walk around peering at all the descriptions to figure them out until I find some I think I can do. Another option is to get advice from a trainer or someone else who already knows the machines. Finally, in case the problem is a lack of interest in actual exercise itself, I find that the elliptical machines and treadmills are best because you can read while you're on them. I like to read magazines anyway; if I'm exercising while I do it it makes the time go by a lot faster. It seems to work.

In any event, that's the solution I've arrived at to stay in better shape (read: get in shape at all) and it seems to be helping as a strategy to beat the winter. Once made a habit, I have to concede to all my athletic friends that it is a not-as-difficult-as-I-thought, and worthwhile, endeavor. Buena suerte.

It isn't blood money - it's a fee, nothing more

Planned Parenthood recently released its 2003-2004 annual report, and it demonstrates again that abortion is big business. The number of abortions performed by PP in 2003 was up 6% over 2002, to more than 244,000. One watchdog group estimates, figuring an average cost of $400 per abortion (which seems fair, using Guttmacher data), that abortion revenue represented at least $100 million dollars, or a third of PP's reported clinic income. Overall, PP showed net profits for the year of almost forty million dollars. That's pretty impressive, and serves to remind that PP's interest here goes beyond the 'charitable' or merely ideological -- it has a vested interest in selling abortion instead of other alternatives, since other alternatives (like adoption) won't help that bottom line. Indeed, the group's ratio for aborted children to adoption referrals is about 138 to one.

Planned Parenthood seems quite happy with all this, though it misses the obvious ironies present. Most of their report is illustrated with pictures from last year's "March for Women's Lives" (about which I wrote a lot here and here, for example) showing women, men ("flaming feminists"), and children (!) smiling and marching. But here's what president Gloria Feldt had to say:

The March for Women’s Lives continues to inspire me. More than one million men and women of all faiths, backgrounds, and political persuasions gathered to show their deep commitment to choice. More than a third were young people — a rising generation that joins us to carry the torch for reproductive rights.

Forget that PP's marketing and "educational" efforts directed at kids and teenagers are aimed at sexualizing them at ever younger ages, which is fairly destructive in itself for this rising generation (see Dawn Eden for examples of the extremely inappropriate things they teach children). Feldt misses the fact that Planned Parenthood has been directly responsible for killing off a large portion of the rising generation -- their million-person march could've possibly had a few million more, if they hadn't been aborted. One might say "good riddance" if the organization wants to keep killing off its number of potential supporters, except for the fact that in the meantime all of those aborted children have lost their lives. Some survive despite the abortion attempts, but more than one million die every year in this country, and about as many women are hurt in living with the aftermath. That's the tragedy.

Dark lord of the Sith spuds

I saw this I think on neurosis's site the other week, but just saw it on CNN and had to link. To tie in with Episode III, Hasbro is unveiling a new Mr. Potato Head figure: Darth Tater. The figure makes me laugh in spite of myself every time I see it. He's pretty cute for being "twisted and evil."

Monday, January 17, 2005

Enemies of liberty

Reading the story of the wave of attacks unleashed across Iraq today, it was hard to contain the frustration. These terrorists have the explicit goal of disrupting democratic elections. They want to eviscerate any civil police force that might try to keep order. They bomb U.N. workers and free reporters. They kill children trying to get clean water. They murder a woman who dedicated her life to serving the poor. They behead people who are volunteering to help rebuild the country. They assassinate legitimate leaders. Today they added to their list the kidnapping of a peaceful religious leader, the Catholic archbishop of Mosul.

Can there be any doubt that these murderers, in fact, hate freedom? They're so threatened by the thought that Iraqi citizens might actually have a say in their own governance that they will stop at almost nothing. Is it pretty clear, at this point, who the bad guys are? I really admire all those Iraqis who will risk their lives to cast a free vote in their own society this month, and I hope their efforts are successful (as was largely so in Afghanistan). It is just going to take a great amount of courage to do so -- it takes a lot of courage for them to try and establish normal routines. But these terrorists will never stop if they sense they are achieving results (presumably chaos, another totalitarian state, and/or the withdrawal of the West, a la Spain) so it really does lie with not only the U.S. and local military and police forces to take them out, but also with those ordinary citizens to stand up and refuse to be cowed.

New digs

Well, it looks like Law Dork is no longer green . . . he set himself up at a nice new site today, and it looks good, so go visit him there :)

La Shawn Barber also revamped her site this weekend, to make the design a little cleaner, and she has some good posts up today about Martin Luther King and why conservatives should stay far away from Newt Gingrinch should he ever again aspire to political office.

Survivor: Abortion

Coming up on the 32nd anniversary of Roe, Amy Welborn passes on this story of a woman who survived being aborted. Now 27, Gianna Jessen suffers from mild cerebral palsy caused by lack of oxygen in the womb (while she was supposed to be dying from the saline solution injected to induce abortion) and difficulties from her premature birth (because she wasn't born dead -- born weighing just 2 pounds, she fought for her life). Raised in foster care and eventually adopted by a caring family, Jessen learned to walk and live a normal life. She found out at age 12 that her birth mother had tried to abort her, but she's never let that affect her feelings of self-worth, and it's spurred her to be a powerful witness for life. She strongly advocates adoption:

"Can't we just give a little and say, 'I may not be the best mother for this child, but I love this child enough to sacrifice for it'?" she asked. "Isn't that the ultimate love?"

Jessen also knows that it's not just aborted children who suffer or die directly as a result of abortion: men and, especially, women suffer as well.

Jessen is sometimes unprepared for the grief that pours out from others when they hear her story. "Women who have had abortions have come up to me crying, saying, 'I wish I had never done this. I had no idea the pain I would live with for the rest of my life,'" she said.

Dawn Eden points to another interesting interview in Newsweek today with Alveda King, a niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., who has also been powerfully affected by the pain of abortion:

I'm post-abortive so I know this, when we abort the child, we violate his or her rights, we as the mothers suffer tremendously, and our families suffer. I remember my children saying, "You killed our brother or our sister, how could you do that? Did you want to kill us, too?"

. . . I would say in retrospect, we have a greater responsibility as a compassionate society to teach our young people, male and female, the responsibility of parenting, what happens when you have sex, and to teach again like we used to: be prepared to raise a child if you have sex. People stopped saying that. And so I do have compassion for the young person who says, “If I have this baby, my life will be ruined.” But I believe the answer is: Think about that before you have the sex. I would say to that young lady, if she's already pregnant, then we go into intervention and look for opportunities to have the child adopted, or to strengthen her with maybe a scholarship to finish school so she doesn't feel deserted or abandoned.

Both these women are reminders to pray for the unborn children and the women who would be their mothers, and for those who still look for healing after having made a decision to abort.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Calling a spade

One conservative complaint about the mainstream media is the way in which they often label conservative groups conservative, but don't seem to also label liberals as liberal (maybe because "liberal" is their "mainstream" and so not worth defining?). In that light, this article from the SF Chronicle about Bush's developing legacy is noteworthy for using accurate terms for both sides when talking about the Supreme Court: Justice Stevens and NARAL are liberal, Gary Bauer is conservative. That's fair. I appreciated it.

Conservatives in the mist

I think it was Jonah Goldberg that first termed that way the tendency of coastal media or academic elites to peer down at conservatives with the kind of bemused and detached curiosity Goodall might have first approached the apes with. The theme reoccurs not infrequently. Today's Post has a variation on it, in which reporter David Von Drehle writes about his voyage on "The Red Sea" of middle America. The whole article is worth reading, and I appreciate Von Drehle's "honest effort" to be fair and open-minded; moreover, he does a nice job as a writer describing the landscapes and tone of the Plains (he apparently grew up originally on the western edge of them). Still, there's a few places in the article where you can't help but raise an eyebrow or smirk slightly. When trying to counter a Nebraska resident's skepticism towards D.C. reporters, he said:

All I could answer was that we were tired of hearing pundits tell us about "Red America" and wanted a firsthand look . . . . When I first saw that county-by-county map, I felt drawn to go there, to hear for myself why George Bush was reelected. I did this knowing that Bush voters can be found anywhere. Why not just stay home and hunt for some here? I guess for the same reason a person might visit China and not just Chinatown.

It is just kind of funny to think, "Who are these 'Bush voters'? I must go research, to see who these people might be." Von Drehle also has one or two lines that strain credulity. He writes of one woman's decision to vote for Bush because Kerry supported abortion and SSM: "Later, I double-checked what Kerry had said on those subjects. During his campaign, he opposed same-sex marriage and said that abortion was a private matter. But Joyce Smith heard it the way she heard it, and voted the way she voted." Well, sure, that's what Kerry said, but come on, Mr. Von Drehle -- it was obvious from most all of Kerry's actions (speaking at NARAL affairs to say "we must be proud of what we stand for," voting against every measure that might have limited abortion, suggesting he could change his mind about his not-so-strong stand on marriage, opposing DOMA and an amendment, et cetera, et cetera) that Joyce Smith wasn't just hearing things funny. Von Drehle also notes, "I couldn't help noticing that among the people Paul Kern won't likely hit with a far-flung snowball are black people, openly gay people and people born in foreign countries." Those aren't all the same thing (inasmuch as there's any equation between race and behaviors). Nevertheless, I suppose it's true enough of where Von Drehle was at the time (Nebraska) -- but he couldn't have made that same observation in about equally red-state Texas, where according to the Census Bureau 32% of the population is Hispanic and 12% is black. Plenty of red-state voters are just fine with "diversity"; plenty of red-state voters belong to those "diverse" groups themselves. So this fact that he "couldn't help noticing" could've been left out of the article.

In any event, Von Drehle doesn't try to pretend that all conservatives are alike or that all Bush voters did so for the same reasons or with the same degrees of enthusiasm, and that's pretty fair. It's also fair not to treat the red state voters as if they are uniquely possessed of a particular wisdom about life (though I obviously think that many of the professed values of the heartland, where Bush held the most sway, are solidly grounded). If you've got time to peruse this magazine cover story, I'd recommend it.

EDIT (9:45): Blogger Tim Blair feels a little less charitable toward Mr. Von Drehle's essay: "The areas he visited are mere hours from the east coast, yet he writes of them as though he's revealing secrets deciphered from hieroglyphs inside an Egyptian pyramid." I think that's a little unfair to the author, considering he was aware that this was how he could be sounding and he at least attempted to avoid taking that view. Oh well.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Best school in the country

Blue-Gray Sky reports that the Irish just landed a great safety recruit out of Florida yesterday. As they phrase it, "Ray Herring didn't simply commit to ND yesterday, he shot out of a cannon, with an infectious enthusiasm and effusive praise for all things Irish." Did he ever. Here's how he made the announcement on the online journal that local paper Florida Today gave him:

I WANT TO BE A MEMBER OF THE FIGHTING IRISH! Notre Dame is a special place. A really special place. The people are genuine and you can tell they truly care. The campus is spectacular and the coaching staff is second to none . . . .

I spoke with Coach Weis today and told him that I wanted to call OUR other recruits and get them to South Bend. So, if you're a Notre Dame recruit and haven't committed to us yet, get ready because Ray's gonna be calling ya!

Come to Notre Dame, get one of the best educations in the nation, at the best university in the nation, with the best team and coaches in the nation! Come to Notre Dame and help us bring home a 12th National Championship to the Irish fans...maybe more! Oh yeah, one more thing... GO IRISH!!!

Well. How can you not grin at that? :) Look at the photo link on this page also to see Ray and his high school coach taking pictures at all the standard places around campus, like the library and the stadium, and apparently having a great time. Ray seems to be a very grounded kid, too, with a lot of perspective on the game -- he knows this is a decision for "forty years, not for four," because football won't always be there. His father, a star high school football player before he became paralyzed in a playing accident, has always reminded him of that even as he's encouraged him to set goals and make his dream happen. Said Ray about ND: "I was impressed with how much they care about you as a student as well as an athlete . . . I like the fact that they have a 99 percent graduation rate among their football players." Sounds like he has his priorities in order.

There was a fair amount of jumping up and down and exuberance when I knew I was going to Notre Dame too, but this young man brings back the enthusiasm all over again -- and of course, he can play football :D Welcome to the family and good luck, Ray. Hope you can help the defense!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Radio InmigraciĆ³n

Yesterday Tim Graham made this snarky post in The Corner:

Lots of Washington-area alternative-rock fans are dismayed over the last 24 hours at the sudden demise of the legendary station WHFS (never a ratings legend, just a legend) to make room for "El Zol," a Spanish-language FM station. While the "HFStival" had become a big concert date in the last ten years, since the rise of grunge the station had become more and more indistinguishable from DC-101, which used to be the Led Zeppelin-Aerosmith station to HFS's Clash-Talking Heads-REM sound. Still, the whole switcheroo, complete with lectures about how Spanish-language stations are a "growth market" and serve an "underserved" audience, can make you want to send money to Tom Tancredo. (Speak English, this is America, Jack!) The "wake" for HFS is here.

I understand the irritation with an unannounced format shift. It seems to happen all the time in radio, and it's frustrating when you go to a station and suddenly it's playing completely different music -- message from radio being, "too bad, so sad" (as my old contracts prof used to say). And apparently WHFS was a popular station for a really long time.

But really, what's with the reactionary hostility to the fact that this station switched to being a Spanish format? Hispanics are the fastest growing (and already the largest) minority population in America, and the majority of them, yes, speak Spanish and so would listen to Spanish radio. There really aren't many stations that cater to that market -- I know I've lamented before the lack of any Spanish stations in Columbus, and even the main FM one in D.C. has a pretty weak signal. So pointing out that the Hispanic market is both growing and underserved is a fair observation for the Post to make. It doesn't mean everyone in America is in favor of illegal immigration. It doesn't mean Tom Tancredo needs money. It doesn't even mean that legal immigrants and all their born-and-bred American families don't know how to speak English or want to assimilate to American culture. (One grandmother I know is a naturalized American citizen from Ecuador, speaks perfectly competent English, has lived here for 40 years -- and only watches Univision and listens to Spanish AM radio.) Maybe some people just like Spanish music in all its various formats (pop rock, salsa, tejano, merengue, etc.) and will patronize a radio station that plays it. Why does Tim Graham have a problem with that?

Prayer request

Please keep the Turner family (longtime friends of me and my family) in your prayers. Recently they found out the devastating news that their newborn baby, John Michael, has a degenerative genetic condition (spinal muscular atrophy I). The Turners have such a wonderful, strong family (with five older kids -- the oldest two were my first baby-sitting job, 12 years ago :) who are great witnesses to their faith for everyone who knows them. This is very difficult news. Please pray for them to make it through.

Congratulations, it's not a girl

China recently welcomed its 1.3 billionth citizen, showering official attention on the designated baby boy's parents. Though I had thought perhaps it had been easing up on enforcement, China actually took the occasion to promote its ugly "one child" policy on the world stage. Under this policy, people are allowed by the government to have only one child, and if a few unusual conditions are met, then maybe, possibly, the government will deign to give its permission for a couple to have a second child. But only four years later. And that's all. Given a traditional Chinese preference for boys (who can support their parents in their old age), this has predictably but sadly led to sex-based abortions, widespread abandonment of baby girls, and even infanticide in some cases. Even if these tragedies did not occur, couples would have few options. Couples who would ignore the policy are subject to forced sterilizations, crippling financial penalties, and loss of their jobs. Those who would openly challenge the merits of the policy are thrown into prison. Those who are born as second or third children may be treated as invisible by the government, unable to secure the papers necessary (in this totalitarian state) to receive education, jobs, or housing; many resort to living in "homes" carved out of trash in landfills outside urban areas.

But pay no mind to the hard labor, unacknowledged existences, and forced sterilization. China just wants us to know that it delayed the arrival at 1.3 billion by a whole four years . . . and oh, by the way, it also wants to correct an unintended consequence of its genius social engineering policy: a drastic imbalance in the number of boys and girls born, which is already having demographic effects. Instead of backing away from its policy, though, which represents a severe affront to human dignity and autonomy, the Chinese government has a better solution: more social engineering.

"The government takes it as an urgent task to correct the gender imbalance of newborns," the official Xinhua news agency quoted Zhang Weiqing, minister in charge of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, as saying in an overnight report.

"As a new measure, the commission will start drafting revisions to the Criminal Law in order to effectively ban fetus gender detection and selective abortion other than legitimate medical purposes," Zhang said . . . .

"Families with just one daughter enjoy housing, employment, education and welfare privileges," Xinhua said.

It is very distressing that instead of fixing the problem by abandoning "one child," the government thinks it can do it by all the standard coercions of authoritarian regimes. Government should never be able to exercise such intrusive control on the fundamental aspects of human life, even decreeing when creation is valid and when it must be prohibited. I would think even pro-choice people would be offended by the whole notion here, since no "choice" is involved at all -- yet "family planning" organizations usually seem quite happy to be complicit in the program. I'm glad the U.S. has cut off funding to the "family planning" organizations that sanction the forced abortions and sterilizations, but I hope that by the Chinese government itself calling attention to its policy, even more public opinion will be turned against it.

What's left

Here is an affecting story about marriage -- a couple who often fought and seemed unhappy over the years, but stuck together nonetheless; and now as they suffer from dementia and often don't recognize anything else in the world, they are each other's help. Writes the author, their daughter: "I don't doubt that if my mother and father magically regained their old vigor, they'd be back fighting. But I now see that something came of all those years of shared days — days of sitting at the same table, waking to the same sun, working and raising children together. Even the very fury they lavished on each other was a brick in this unseen creation, a structure that reveals itself increasingly as the world around them falls apart."

No doubt today the couple would have divorced a long time ago. Maybe they'd have been happier by conventional standards. But in building their lives together, even as they apparently were often fighting, they created a bond that now is the only thing that remains. Quite a testament.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Sentence away

I had wondered why Professor Berman wasn't at our Crim Law Journal editorial meeting today -- usually if he's not there, we figure he's off blogging. As it turns out, he was blogging -- and also making his debut on the NewsHour and giving quotes to the AP. This morning, the Supreme Court ruled in Booker and Fanfan, effectively overhauling the federal criminal sentencing guidelines in rulings that are going to completely shake up the federal appellate dockets -- and Berman is a go-to guy. Here, he gives his best early attempt to clarify the holdings from the mess of an opinion (which runs 118 pages):

I am trying to come up with a simple take on Booker, and here it is: five Justices (the Apprendi/Blakely five) say the federal sentencing guidelines can no longer operate as mandatory sentencing rules (which is clearly how they were designed and intended to operate), but five Justices (the Apprendi/Blakely dissenters + Justice Ginsburg) have crafted the only possible remedy that would operate in a manner as close to the old system as possible . . . . [I]t appears that the FSG must continue to operate as a (shadow?) sentencing system, with presentence reports prepared (and fully litigated?) as in the past, and perhaps even with sentencing judges having to make on the record findings of what the FSG would provide.

EDIT: To get a good overview of what the sentencing guidelines had done for our criminal system, and why declaring them unconstitutional is going to result in unhappy upheaval for the foreseeable future, this article is a good start, and this one comments on the effects on white-collar criminal cases.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Within reach

Argentine doctors have apparently used adult stem cells to help treat a patient with diabetes, with promising results. The patient, who had started with Type 2 diabetes that progressed to where his pancreas had stopped producing insulin (Type 1), was injected with stem cells taken from his own bone marrow. The stem cells apparently took to his pancreas and caused it to begin producing insulin again at Type 2 levels -- so it could be treated with medicine and the man was no longer insulin dependent. This isn't a clinical study and the results haven't been fully studied -- but it does appear to represent yet another treatment, in a human being, that's already producing results with adult stem cells.

Family priorities

With Senate Democrats signaling that Alberto Gonzales is likely to be confirmed as Attorney General, attention can be turned to what priorities the Justice Department will have during Gonzales's tenure. Several groups are concerned about civil liberties as regards terrorists and prisoners of war, but the level of concern domestically doesn't appear to be as high for liberal groups as with John Ashcroft. From the conservative side, personally, while I am worried about the issue of torture, I think the level of attention that has been focused on the matter so far is likely to ensure that better standards of prisoner treatment will be met. The military had already begun sanctions and investigations into Abu Ghraib even before the worst incidents there were publicized. (I was never that concerned about Ashcroft, though.) On other matters, the Family Research Council points out the issues relating to the family that the DOJ should be paying attention to in the near future, with FRC president Tony Perkins stating:

America is awash in illegal pornography due to lack of effective enforcement by the Department of Justice, an ongoing problem for more than a dozen years. As the next attorney general, Gonzales will have to make significant personnel changes in his prosecution team and demand vigorous enforcement of federal obscenity laws. We hope to see obscenity prosecutions become a priority once again. Questions have been raised about the pro-life credentials of Gonzales because of a ruling he made four years ago as a Texas Supreme Court justice. The Department of Justice is currently defending the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban in several federal courts, and FRC hopes he will lead a spirited defense of this important law and that he will side with the president and the pro-family movement on other abortion-related issues. Also, the dimensions of human trafficking, a modern-day form of slavery, are overwhelming and President Bush has repeatedly highlighted this issue. I hope Mr. Gonzales will bring greater resources and public attention to help the estimated 15,000 individuals illegally trafficked into the U.S. each year.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Critically acclaimed

I wasn't surprised to see today that Clint Eastwood's new movie "Million Dollar Baby" won best picture among film critics, with lead Hilary Swank tying for best actress with Imelda Staunton, of "Vera Drake." Why do the critics love these films? Well, apparently both are well-crafted, with good cinematography and fine acting. Credit that. The critics probably wouldn't have practically swooned over the films, though, were it not for their subject matter. "Vera Drake" is about an illicit abortionist in 1950s Britain; "Million Dollar Baby," while being everywhere hyped as a great boxing movie, actually ends up being about (spoiler alert) euthanasia. Now that makes for high art.

In each case the critics appear to have gone out of their way to stress that the acts of death were really all about love. Vera is a kindly woman, variously described as an "angel," "patient and steady," "infallibly cheerful," "compassionate," and even "saintly" -- all as she goes about the business of providing (free of charge, naturally) abortions for the women or girls (working-class, of course, righting the injustice of the fact that the wealthy girls can be whisked away to clinics) who happen to find themselves "in trouble." Apparently, she makes tea for them afterward. It's all about love and compassion in "Million Dollar Baby" as well. Even better, Frankie (Eastwood), the grizzled vet who becomes Swank's coach, is a lifelong Catholic. Daily attendance at Mass, even. The relationship between Frankie and Swank's character Maggie is described as that of a father and daughter, as a love story, as a boxing story that is just really about hopes and dreams. All this is ultimately manifested in Frankie helping to euthanize Maggie after she's been paralyzed in the last part of the movie from a dirty hit (that part, rather conspicuously, isn't mentioned in hardly any reviews).

I haven't seen these films, but my understanding is that though "Baby" presents its issues as emotional and difficult, and "Vera" shows the main character going through a trial where different sides are expressed, the films clearly end up coming down in favor of the choices of abortion and assisted suicide. With protagonists portrayed as saintly, faithful, compassionate, and loving -- but ultimately bringing death -- it's easy to understand why Hollywood loves them. Again, credit the acting or the films; that's fine -- but if "Vera" had a pro-life message or if "Baby" strongly rejected euthanasia in favor of life (however difficult), it's a safe bet we wouldn't be reading the rave reviews and critical acclamations we are now. Expect more of the same heading into the Oscars.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The end is nigh

This turned out to be a really nice Christmas break, which I'm grateful for -- I got to spend time with the family here, and spend time in D.C. and take a vacation in Florida for a few days. Now, back from that wonderful 80-and-sunny weather into the standard and unending grayness of Columbus, it's also time to head back down to campus and buy books and get assignments for the new semester, which starts Monday. (By the way, if anyone reading is taking the Law and Social Science class, please let me know -- I have a like-new copy of the book for cheap, since I dropped the class too late last year to be able to return the book.) So anyway, time to get back to work in what should be my last semester of school, ever (with the asterik for a few months of post-graduation study for the bar). Cool.

Update: I just sold my book earlier today (Tuesday) (thanks to the buyer :). Apologies for not posting an update more quickly.

Just don't say that word

While a good majority of those watching the hearings of Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales are concerned about his views on the Geneva Convention and torture (which certainly raise legitimate questions, although I don't think there's a direct line between Gonzales -- a White House counsel, not in the DoD -- and Abu Ghraib), NARAL Pro-Choice America is concerned about something else. Exactly what the "something" is, you have to know already, since they never actually use the word "abortion" in their press release on the matter, except where it's part of a title of a federal act. Now, this is a group that recently realized its name (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) might somehow seem too strident by having "abortion" in its name, and so repackaged itself as NARAL Pro-Choice America (see, it's for freedom and it's patriotic!). But I guess this is policy all around. In the press release we have references to these concepts:

- "personal privacy and a woman's right to choose,"
- "anti-choice,"
- "Roe v. Wade,"
- "individual freedoms,"
- "women's right to control their own lives and decisions,"
- "women's rights," and
- "a woman's constitutional right to choose"

One might wonder why NARAL doesn't eschew the euphemisms and simply tell us what privacy, rights, freedoms, and choice are all meant to be about here: abortion. Why not state, unapologetically, what it is fighting so hard to promote? Oh, right: because "abortion" is actually an ugly concept, and the more NARAL uses the word the more people are likely to reflect on what is actually taking place in this procedure: the ending of a pregnancy by causing the death of the unborn child. NARAL doesn't want any such reflection, so NARAL won't make you think about those unpleasant concepts. Much better to obscure the issue by never mentioning it at all.

It's no new observation that control of the language used in discussions on abortion is thought critical to success (which is why I'd prefer, if the media is going to use the term "pro-choice" that they at least also use "pro-life" -- instead, it's usually "pro-choice" and "anti-abortion"). It's just always interesting to me to see it in action.

Appearances of impropriety

Actually, it's more than an "appearance" of impropriety. Yesterday, the story broke that conservative columnist Armstrong Williams (and his PR company) had been paid $240,000 by the Department of Education to promote No Child Left Behind in ads and in his columns. Williams maintains that there is a difference between a journalist being paid, and a columnist, but even he has had to acknowledge that this deal stinks. I'm really disappointed with regard to Williams, whose columns I've liked (they usually appear on Townhall). I'm even more irritated with the federal government -- who knew we had so much extra money we could afford to drop a quarter million on this kind of promotion of what was already government policy?

A quick search of Townhall pulls up at least four Williams articles from 2004 that talk about No Child Left Behind. Two of them (here and here) only mention NCLR in the process of talking about other aspects of education policy and reform, such as Brown v. Board and the NEA. Two others (here and here) do somewhat more in the way of touting the act. His points on NCLB may or may not be valid (conservatives have always had widely varying opinions on the merits of NCLB), but knowing that his opinions weren't independently arrived at, as readers would assume in the absence of other disclosure, seriously undermines his credibility. Williams could have avoided the fallout here if he'd only disclosed what he'd been doing -- or refused the money in the first place as regards his column (instead of his PR firm). Instead he now faces the consequence of having his column dropped by his syndicate, Tribune Media. It's harsh, and I'm sorry that many of his insights on education and other topics, on which he writes well, won't be readily published now, but this was an improper acceptance and use of government funds and appears to be deserved. What a shame.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Sticker shock

I'm going to Orlando for the next couple of days, where it should be nice and sunny. It should be fun :) Entertainment down there comes at a steep price, though. The trip was planned for this week so as to avoid Disney's busiest week of the year (between Christmas and New Year's), but unfortunately since it is the new year all the ticket prices are going up even more. That is, fewer people, but higher costs. Even Sea World, which used to be a slightly better deal, is raising prices. *grumble* I'm just hoping they didn't summarily get rid of their Southwest discount at the same time.

I realize this is just how the market works, but I wish there were some realistic possibility that consumers would refuse to pay prices that go up faster than inflation. This would be nice in the case of Disney vacations and, say, higher education. But I guess we're all just suckers, and we'll keep lining up for theme park admissions and college degrees even when the prices may be ridiculous. See y'all next week :)

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Sixth senses, and the problem of evil

One of the oddest stories to come out of the devastation of the South Asian tsunamis is the fact that wild animals do not seem to be among the dead. While the human toll is desperately high -- approaching 150,000 at latest count -- elephants and other animals in wild preserves apparently knew, somehow, to escape to higher ground before the water came. There are some stories that human beings recognized what was happening in time to warn others and escape -- this schoolgirl, for instance, helped warn other people on her beach in Thailand because she recognized the rapidly outgoing tide as a sign of a tsunami from her science class -- but for the most part, people, it seems, were far worse off than animals. I wonder how they knew?

Considering the horrific and senseless loss of human life, many people have been discussing (here, for instance), as we do with so many incomprehensible human and natural evils, what kind of God could allow this to happen. It's a hard question to contemplate and pat answers offer no comfort. I think the most direct answer has been framed by frequent First Things contributor David B. Hart, writing in the Wall Street Journal yesterday:

When confronted by the sheer savage immensity of worldly suffering--when we see the entire littoral rim of the Indian Ocean strewn with tens of thousands of corpses, a third of them children's--no Christian is licensed to utter odious banalities about God's inscrutable counsels or blasphemous suggestions that all this mysteriously serves God's good ends. We are permitted only to hate death and waste and the imbecile forces of chance that shatter living souls, to believe that creation is in agony in its bonds, to see this world as divided between two kingdoms--knowing all the while that it is only charity that can sustain us against "fate," and that must do so until the end of days.

I don't believe God wants evil to happen, and I believe He suffers with us; but the world is not perfect and is not as it was intended, because of sin. The Christian hope rests in the ultimate triumph achieved by Christ over death and suffering, but suffering is more often what we know in this world. Hart writes: "As Paul says, all creation groans in anguished anticipation of the day when God's glory will transfigure all things. For now, we live amid a strife of darkness and light."