Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Decadence and the Demographic Winter

Soeren Kern is a Senior Analyst for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Strategic Studies Group. In today's Brussels Journal, he has an article entitled: "Spain Deconstructs the Traditional Family." Here's a sample:
Spaniards are currently debating a controversial plan by Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to liberalize the country’s abortion law. The new measure would obligate the public healthcare system to provide free abortions without any restrictions for women 16 years and over up to the 14th week of pregnancy, and up to 22 weeks if there is a risk to the mother’s health or if the foetus is deformed. Women can also undergo the procedure after 22 weeks if doctors certify that the foetus has a serious deformity or incurable illness. . . .

But Spain’s real reality is that abortion, in addition to corroding Spanish attitudes toward life, is also imploding the Spanish population. According to the Madrid-based Institute for Family Policy (IFP), abortion is now the number one cause of death in Spain. By way of illustration, it says that every twenty days the number of abortions equals the annual number of people killed in traffic accidents. The IFP estimates that more than one million abortions have been carried out in Spain since 1985. As a result, Spain now has one of the lowest replacement fertility rates in the world. . . .

As Zapatero fiddles with his post-modern “progressive” vision of morality, Spain is burning. Illegal immigration, joblessness, radical secularism, corruption, divorce, violent crime, drug abuse, alcoholism, obesity, sexual assault, murder, abortion and hedonistic utilitarianism are all up. Meanwhile, Judeo-Christian values, traditional marriage, personal responsibility, academic performance, respect for parental authority, pursuit of the work ethic, economic growth and procreation are all down. Many observers link both the cause and the effect of Spain’s societal troubles to a breakdown of the traditional family.
In the last statistics that I saw, Spain's reproductive rate (childbirths per woman) was 1.1. Even if it's slight higher than that, it is only slightly so. Maintaining a society's reproductive equilibrium requires a 2.1 reproductive rate. Historically no society has ever recovered from a 1.9 rate or lower. It is statistically impossible to recover from a 1.3 rate or lower.

The Spanish situation is worse than many in Europe, but no European society is at or above the reproductive rate required for cultural stability.

As with any statistics, one can quibble with a number here or there, but that's not the point. The perfectly clear point is that the 1970s panic about overpopulation has produced the greatest crisis in the history of Europe. What is passing away is a civilization. It is part of our civilization, and the forces that are destroying it are at work in our own society.

Please take a look at this video.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Faith in God by Fr. Jeffrey Mickler, SSP

In an earlier post, I shared a YouTube homily by my new friend, Mr. Jeffrey Mickler, SSP. While I was in the hospital, Fr. Jeffrey sent me a link to a homily he gave just after our visit in Fresno. I am so charmed by his goodness and his faith and his joy that I must share it.

A Little Guide for Your Last Days

My friend Jeff Hendrix has struggled with graver medical issues that have I, and he has written a charming little book about facing mortality. It's entitled "A Little Guide For Your Last Days." Since, regardless of how healthy any of us might be, these are our last days -- on this earth at any rate -- the book is for everyone. It's here. Jeff's irrepressible good humor and deep faith make it a heartwarming read.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fr. Jeffrey Mickler

When I was in Fresno for a television interview at the end of May, I had the great good fortune of meeting Fr. Jeffrey Mickler. Fr. Mickler is a priest in the Society of St. Paul, and he has become one of the most prolific YouTube evangelists on the internet. My friend Michael Lane and I had lunch with Fr. Jeffrey, I was charmed by his vitality and the ebullience of his faith. Today I happened upon the video below, one of hundreds that Fr. Jeffrey has recorded. I pass it along simply as random evidence of this kind and gentle man's beautiful ministry.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

P.S. To last post

The last portion of my last blog post didn't make it to the blog for
some reason.
I included the photo to show the crucifix above the clock. There is a
crucifix in every room of St. Vincent's Hospital.
As for me -- my goofing around and bellyaching notwithstanding -- a
full recovery is -- slowly but surely -- under way.
Thanks for your prayers and kind messages.

(Sent from Gil Bailie's mobile phone.)

One day left - if I'm lucky

I'm already lucky: It only hurts when I stay in one position or change

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

What did I tell you?

"Countering Anti-Choice Terrorism" screams an article by Melissa Harris-Lacewell in The Nation, screaming, that is, in order to be heard over the unanimous chorus of pro-life voices condemning in no uncertain terms the savage murder of George Tiller:
I believe the murder of George Tiller was an act of domestic terrorism whose aim was not only to assassinate a single man, but also to frighten a generation of doctors and to shame and terrify women and families who are making difficult choices. While the murderous rage of Tiller's assassin is not representative of the broader anti-choice movement, I believe that the anti-choice community operates with a totalitarian impulse that generates a culture of terror rather than a culture of life.

Hannah Arendt suggested that totalitarians generate terror in part by cultivating profound loneliness among their targets. Loneliness locks human beings in isolation and hampers discourse, connection, and shared experience. When we believe we are alone and misunderstood we cannot form the bonds necessary to organize and resist. There are few experiences more lonely and isolating than facing an unintended pregnancy or facing the need to terminate a desired pregnancy in order to protect maternal health. The anti-choice discourse labels the women and families who chose abortion "baby killers." It is a strategy that dehumanizes these women and the doctors who care for them.
Baby killers. Let's see: people who kill babies, what shall we call them? Perhaps people hired to permanently eliminate all future choices that might be made by the babies whose bodies they dismember?

But that's far too complicated. Another possibility, though shockingly short on empathy for those who -- pardon the expression -- make a living killing babies is "killing babies."

What's worse, calling something by its right name or exploiting the vile act of one psychopath to avert attention from a mountain of small corpses which grows daily by the thousands?