Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Culture of Life?

(Yeah right.)

Usually I'm quite proud of the stance the Catholic Church takes on a lot of issues. But I've said before (and reiterate here) that I am a Culture of Death Catholic. The idea being that you have celebrate women who choose to have babies instead of demonizing women who choose not to if you truly want to encourage a true culture of life in this nation.

Well, at least the Diocese of Brooklyn came down about its beliefs, and in my opinion they are on the wrongest of wrong sides. Instead of celebrating the choice of one of their teachers to have a baby, and celebrating that choice as one an adult is making despite not being married (something that is quite laudable in America these days), they fired her from teaching at their school.

If you care about encouraging women to have babies instead of not having babies, you can't demonize them when they choose to have babies. Priorities, fellas. Priorities. I pray every day for more women to make such decisions, I celebrate every time a woman I know chooses to have a kid. And now y'all go and do this.

Earth to the Church: now ain't the time to start being ideologically inconsistent.


patsbrother said...

[FYI - I personally doubt kindergardeners know or care about their teacher's marital status.]

paT: you apparently want the Catholic Church to be okay with the least worst. If your employment is conditioned on behaving in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church, having sex outside of wedlock violates that condition. (Although it appears she was entirely successful at following that ban on contraceptives.) It is odd to suggest a woman should be exempted from that condition of her employment just because she could have done something far more opprobrious.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Well, I think someone should have come in with a little common sense on this one.

ruby booth said...

Until the Church can find enough saints to staff their schools, they must make do with regular folk. Which means (if I understand things correctly) their schools are staffed with sinners, small or large though their sins may be. At the moment the Church seems to come down on the side of the least visible sin, which is probably what has upset Pat.

Unless the officials at St. Rose are as vigilant for fornicators and adulterers as they are for unwed mothers, then they give the impression of caring more about the appearance of piety than about piety itself. Whether or not it is their intention, they seem to be saying: What we don’t see, we don’t censure.

This is a very dangerous position, particularly with the Church so recently rent by molestation scandals. Many felt those events, which involved actions out of sight, were also subject to a “if we don’t see it, we don’t mind it” attitude. I would think, all threats of legal actions aside, the Church should want to avoid giving further weight to those arguments.

patsbrother said...

The last time the Church went around actively looking for sin (the Inquisition), there were bad tidings all around. Here, as the woman has not put forth the Mary Defense ("I dunno how, it just kind of happened"), it's pretty safe to say there is conclusive and growing evidence of the conduct violation.

Just because bishops failed in their duty towards children (let us hope "in the past" can accurately be added to that) does not mean a school, as a facet of the largest religious denomination in the country and the world, should fail its own duty to children as well. As I know no born-again Catholics, I presume those in charge of this school realize their staff is comprised of sinners. The assumption here is they believe intercourse outside of marriage is a rather inexcuseable sin for one whose occupation it is to teach children practical matters of the faith.

Personally, I think the more interesting topic here is whether a federal district court will choose to accept plaintiff's allegation of discrimination based in part on the tautology that, as a rule, men don't get pregnant.

patsbrother said...

Here is an article that follows the spirit of paT's original post more closely:

There is a class of individuals the Church doesn't want to have sex;

There is an occupation within the Church that is direly underpopulated;

That occupation demands a vow of celebacy, barring most potential individuals;

With few exceptions, the Church bans the class of individuals it doesn't want to have sex from filling in the much-needed position that demands a vow not to have sex.



Back to paT's original theme, allowing gay men to become priests would be a very visible "celebration" of homosexuals' acceptance of Church teaching, and a tacit message to local youths to adhere to the letter of Church doctrine.

But the Church once again said "we don't want that," as is their right. They don't want people with "psychological disorders" as their representatives, and that's perfectly acceptable reasoning.

[Before someone picks up on the molestation scandals, I will remind you of two points: homosexuals are no more likely to become child molesters than heterosexuals, and statistics that came out during those scandals showed the percentage of American priests that became molesters was statistically the same as adult American males at large. I mention this not to mitigate those scandals but to remark that they do not apply here.]

Nikka said...

Ruby was pointing out hypocrisy, Kevin, not requesting an inquisition at the school. The school is punishing this teacher not for the sin, but for the symptom. There is no way to tell if a man is committing sexual sins, or for that matter, if a woman is using birth control or having abortions. This woman made what the church would consider a mistake, but owned up to it and is making the difficult choice of having the baby alone. That’s a brave decision and shouldn’t be punished by firing her.

Also, nowhere that i’ve read does it say that she taught religion classes, just that she was a teacher at the school. When I was in Catholic school, religion took up only a small part of the day, most of which was taken up with math, science, reading, art, and so forth. I could see the school asking that she not teach religion classes at this point, but not firing her. So long as she goes to mass and confession, she’s still a good Catholic. Back at St. Francis elementary school, they taught us that no human is perfect, we are all sinners, and to suggest otherwise, certainly to demand otherwise of your employees is downright blasphemous.

dadvocate said...

This is a difficult one. I feel that the Church should pull in people to the fold and help them to improve or whatever you call it, as Jesus did with Mary Magdalene. (My WWJD moment)

But their is the consideration of the example being set for the kids. While she may have been a kindergarten teacher, I'm sure there are older kids around that are aware of the situation as well as kids who may look back in 10 years and think, "My kindergarten teacher was doing it when she wasn't marrried, why can't I?" When I was in school, during Medival times, public schools would have fired a woman for being pregnant out of wedlock.

Should one be surprised that, when working for a religious entitiy, that certain behaviors would jeopardize one's employment? I doubt that there are many jobs where you couldn't get fired for some behavior whether or not that behavior directly affected your job performance.

patsbrother said...

One. Reacting to biological differences is not hypocrisy. If there was a dispositive indicia that male staff members were fornicating AND the school opted to ignore it, that would be hypocrisy. It is a non sequitur to say: x is unacceptable in all people, but since it is impossible to know that A does it while it is possible to know if B does it, we should make x acceptable for both A and B.

Second, this woman's termination is less a punishment and more a Catholic institution maintaining its own standards. But she was brave! you say. Yes, but an act of bravery isn't life's great curative. Unlike the example put forth by the current administration, sometimes accepting responsibility means you accept the consequences of your actions.

Third, demanding a certain standard of deportment from your staff members is in no way comparable to an expectation of sinlessness. Yes, everyone is a sinner; that does not mean anyone should be allowed to teach at a Catholic elementary.

To those who apparently want to set this private school's standards for it: would you be willing to accept someone else setting your's?

Buzzzbee said...

This may be sort of off subject, but patsbrother raised a question that has bothered me for quite a while. As a nonchristian, nonhomosexual I feel kind of out of the loop on the ban on gay preists. Christians have explained their position to me on homosexuality by saying that it is a choice, moreover it is not a state of being but a behavior. Therefore, if one were to remain celebate,(let's say by becoming a catholic preist) in the eyes of the church, would that person not cease to be homosexual? If he were not partaking in gay activities anymore, he wouldn't be gay anymore, at least not in the eyes of the church, right? It just didn't make sense to me, so I figured I should ask. What's up with that? Does the church consider homosexuality to be a behavior or a condition? Also, if it is just a behavior, by accepting gay preists they would be removing sinners from society right? Wouldn't they be "curing" these people by making them vow to be celebate?

I checked out that CNN article, but it was unclear on this. It sounded more like the vatican was saying that homosexuality can be cured, but not that it is just behavior. It seems like the whole vow of celebacy would take care of all those "homosexual tendencies". Please, someone clear this up for me.

Patrick Armstrong said...

The question of the matter, for me, is not the legal ramifications of a private organization determining its own set of rules and then adhering to them. My problem is with the knee jerk reaction that led to this situation.

My problem is that the Catholic Church, and one would think, all her institutions, would get behind their moral compass bearing of encouraging a 'culture of life.'

My problem (as the aforementioned Culture of Death Catholic) is that the only way to encourage a Culture of Life is to actually do the right thing when situations like these come up.

I hope no one tries to convince me that the Church really believes out of wedlock intercourse is anywhere near as rough as terminating a pregnancy. The Church may say that on the surface, sin is sin, but we are not just dealing with apples and oranges here.

Now, I don't know how we jumped from this issue to other instances; the Inquisition, dogmatic hypocracy, sex-abuse scandal, the conditions of priests et al, but let's not get off topic.

The problem here, on the surface, is the acceptance that somone is having sex outside of wedlock and got caught. The problem is what that teaches Kindergarteners, and what they will think when they are faced with those decisions down the line.

More on topic than this would be to mention that a 25 year old school teacher in Florida had sex with her 14 year old student at school - she was just sentenced to 3 years house arrest and 7 years probation. There are about 4 cases like that pending nationwide. The Colorado "Cool Mom" who had relations with 5 teenage boys is on her way to jail. Another woman who 'married' a 15 year old Georgia boy after a 2 year relationship, and who is carrying his baby, just went to jail.

The Washington Post just ran an article about kids having relations at school, as if that weren't something that's been going on for at least the last 15 years.

And none of this takes into account the idea that the teacher's baby's daddy may still be very involved (we can't make that determination from the article alone). I know several couples who had children before they got married.

DADvocate makes a very valid point that, when these kids go on to make decisions concerning out of wedlock intercourse, they may choose to use this teacher as an example. That is a reasonable suspicion, and really the reason behind the whole thing.

They will also use, as more important examples: their own parents and parents' friends, TV programming, MTV, movies, rock and rap popular music, advertising on TV, older kids, and most importantly: (drum roll please) their own peers.

As an example of "everybody else is doing it so why don't we?" mentality: the kindergarten teacher who chooses to have the baby herself is bucking that trend by choosing to have the baby! I don't understand why the Catholic Church is even allowing this to become an issue.

The lesson to all the kids paying attention isn't 'everybody else is doing it so why can't we?' The lesson is: there are choices you make in life; there are consequences to every choice; this is the decision I am making; I am taking responsibility for that consequence in the best way I know how.

What a very important lesson to teach our Kindergarteners, considering all the other mixed messages they will later get from parents, pop culture and their peers.

Patrick Armstrong said...

(To address one string that we're going to have to make a seperate post...)


That one is really difficult to clear up, Buzzzbee. I know that the American Protestant and Evangelical Christian Churches in America apply the 'behavior only' and 'can be cured' rules to homosexuality.

But I don't know if the Catholic Church actually sees it that way, or is just echoing the views of folks who are tenatively on their 'side' in regards to the very silly American Culture War we've been waging since 1950.

I don't know if the Catholic Church actually sees it that way, or is just trying to do something (anything!) besides address the celibacy issue in wake of the sex-abuse scandal that has, to date, cost the Church (to which I belong) billions.

It is always easier to blame a common 'enemy' for your problems than to actually look at those problems and how you yourself might be causing them.

patsbrother said...

paT, I believe you fundamentally misunderstand this issue. Though you do not like to admit it, paT, a teacher is in a position of respect. The message the Church wants to send to its children is do not fornicate. Further, the expectation of the Church is when you do get pregnant, you have the baby. There is no expectation there that you have an abortion. In this context, there is no extraordinary moral lesson on "bucking the trend"; the moral lesson here is fornicators are unfit to occupy de facto positions of respect, such as teaching positions. Perhaps when you impress upon children the idea that fornicating is bad, later on less of them will face pregnancy alone.

That the Church - or anyone - should lower its expectations just because other people already have is the creative nihilist's way of saying: give up.

And I see nothing in the Church's stance on homosexuality as a ploy to scapegoat homosexuals or to divert attention from other probelms. Those scandals were largely American; America represents roughly 6% of the world's Catholics. I can't imagine a scenario in which the Vatican would choose to do something that would affect Catholics worldwide as an answer to one region's problems, more than a year after those scandals peaked.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Yeah, my problem is just expecting more from organizations that I am a part of.

I didn't ever say they could not do this, my contention is that they should not. That is based on their publicly stated and repeated ideas concerning the sanctity of life and the 'creation' of a life-based culture.

I do not believe their actions speak in the same voice as their words, and I choose to call them on it here.

Following the ideals of the Church, and what they have said publicly about the things they believe, I feel their decision in this matter was not just error, but terrible error.

It is not that I misunderstand the issue. There is a big difference in not understanding a thing and not liking a thing.

patsbrother said...

So I was avoiding Property and I reread one of paT's comments:

"More on topic...teacher in Florida had sex with her 14 year old student at school - she was just sentenced to 3 years house arrest and 7 years probation."

"And none of this takes into account the idea that the teacher's baby's daddy may still be very involved...I know several couples who had children before they got married."

paT did not mention what made this subject more on topic: I see three possibilities:

One: there's something worse than what the former Catholic schoolteacher did. For that woman's sake, I hope she doesn't use this argument in court.

Two: look! More hypocrisy! Jailing women for not having abortions! I see this as maintaining a single standard for men and women. Statutory rape? Men get that all the time, and I will forever wonder why a certain someone from down home was never charged with this and why he is still allowed to accumulate teenage brides and breed.

Three: since the teacher's baby's daddy is still involved, everything should be fine and dandy. That's a bad idea. The point here is not to discourage two-parent households: the point here is to prevent full adults from fornicating with minors. Hypocrisy comes in when we say thirty-eight year old men preying on fourteen year old girls is bad but a teacher can have sex with her sixth graders all she wants, cause he's a guy and he's getting lucky, and that's just fine. Pregnancy can and does occur in both situations. Both are and should be discouraged and the adults punished.

I mention this because I hope the point that was "More on topic" is something I did not see and not one of the three just listed.

petallic said...

Under duress from patsbrother, I shall venture a post. As a teacher, I am always reticent to speak out against my colleagues in cases such as this...but on this one I must. If this woman taught in a public school, I would back her 100%. Full stop. Without exception. Alas, since she chose to work in a religiously-affiliated institution, she implicitly (and it seems explicitly as well) took on and agreed to a different set of standards than a public school. She chose to have sex and is not free from the consequences of her actions simply because it's not "fair."

Ironically, in a public school, if I were to announce my virginity to my students, I would become an instant pariah, completely out of touch with my "flock," and therefore unfit to teach. After all, how could I possibly guide teenagers to make sound sexual decisions, if I cannot speak from experience?

She needs to tool on over to a public school. They'll love her knocked-up ass.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Yes, folks, we all know about rules and organizations that have them. Yes, we all know that there are consequences to actions that violate those rules.

That don't mean I'm wrong.

What don't seem to be gettin' through to some-a-y'all is that I is 'religiously affiliated' too. That affiliation happens to be Catholic by virtue of birth on my Daddy's side.

That kinda gives me a "dawg in the fight," you might call it.

Now, for a long, long time I was away from the Church, 'casue I didn't agree with some things that some members in some places said. I didn't agree with some things that some members did. So I thought I was the problem and I walked away.

Now, my opinion has changed.

I am a Catholic, or I try to be. And I disagree with things that other Catholics do. Guess what?

They are gonna hear about those things from me, loudly, from whatever pulpit I have access to.

They will be forced to deal with my opinions as I am a Catholic too. I ain't just gonna concede my Church and my beliefs and my moral compass to some numbskulls who talk out both sides o' dey dadgum mouths.

They come at me with 'Culture of Life' and then pull some nonsense like this?

She-nanny-gans. Shenanigans.

Some of us ain't gonna let it 'slip by' on a technicality.

And whoever listnen' to me gonna hear about it, oh yes dey is.

Y'all's have said plenty 'bout rules and regulations and crap like that. Y'all's have said, "Jes throw up dem hands and give up! Rules is rules, what else can we do?"

I'd like to remind you that if the Catholic Church itself looked at things that way, they wouldn't have lawyers working day and night trying to figure out a way to overturn Roe v Wade.

Maybe then they'd look at it from the "demand" side instead of the "supply" side and really take this whole "Culture of Life" thing out for a spin.

Then the "Culture of Life" wouldn't be just a politically convenient catch phrase, to be used in public and discarded when real decisions have to be made.

Maybe this "Culture of Life" can be what I would like it to be: and example for people to follow instead of a wagging finger. It may just start changin' society for the better.

And here all this time, I thought that was the reason the Church had done come into existence in the first place; and that was the reason there are kids sittin' their rear ends down at Catholic schools instead of at the public high schools.

But y'all go on and keep worryin' bout the rules and regulations. Them ain't what we's talkin' bout anyways. Y'all always get that confused when the letter of the law and the spirit come in conflict. Far as I'm concerned, you can have all the rules and regulations y'all want.

I'm out for hearts and minds.

patsbrother said...

If by dogmatic adherence to rules and regulations you mean not having a conniption when a Catholic school follows the spirit and letter of one Church teaching as opposed to an out-of-left-field, attenuated misrepresentation of another, then sure: you got me.

paT, we are both a la carte Catholics. The difference, I suppose, is you get offended when you notice someone else came away from the cafeteria line with more food items on his tray than you did.

ruby booth said...

Provided that the school has and enforces the same standard of conduct for both men and women, then they are well within their legal rights: true. In and of itself, reacting to biological differences is not hypocrisy: also, true. However, the Catholic Church in specific and Christian churches as a whole have an abysmal track record, when their treatment of scarlet women is compared to their treatment of men guilty of the same sins. While these sins are identical officially, even a casual look backward shows they have not been treated equally. This double standard, in the Church and in society as a whole, combines with the tremendous burden of raising a child alone to make abortions seem not only expedient, but, to many, the only way of achieving a freedom from consequence, which men already have by virtue of their biological differences. Whether or not this is a correct view, it is certainly a common one, and one the Church might make great strides against, if it were to welcome repentant sinners rather than handing them pink slips.

However, it is entirely possible that the woman in this case simply does not feel she has done anything wrong. She does not (as far as I understand) have to be Catholic or even Christian to teach at a Catholic school, provided she abides by the code of conduct outlined by the school. However, if she is Catholic, and repents her sin, then I can’t help but agree with Pat that it is in the best interests not only of the woman, but of the Church as a whole to keep her employed, since one of the most important lessons of the Christian faith is God’s boundless mercy toward us poor sinners. If she is unrepentant, it’s another kettle of fish. The articles I’ve read don’t mention her moral stand, however, being far more concerned with her legal one.

petallic said...

{First of all, my apologies for the off-color language in the earlier post. Brotherman didn't tell me to keep it clean 'til after I'd posted.}

Back to the subject at hand:
Ah well, if this is not a legal discussion, but rather a shishy-fafa Renaissance man discussion of humanity, then sure, I guess I'm with you. Should the Catholic Church support her decision to create life despite her circumstances? Sure. Should the Catholic Church forgive her sins and accept her decision? Claro que si. Should they applaud her decision not to have an abortion? Perhaps. Is this really your point? That you're outraged at the Church's outrage? Uh, okay. In this perfect world of which you speak, I agree with you.

You keep fightin' that good fight, oh lauder of justice.

(And since you don't know me, I will add that I am being goodheartedly rude, not just rude rude.)

If we are speaking of hearts and minds, then take comfort that our Hester Prynne has made a decision of which you can be proud. Yes, she will be castigated and spurned as a scarlet woman, but her conscience is clean. The Church, like Reverend Dimmesdale, will burn from the inside out. So to speak.

ruby booth said...

"The Church, like Reverend Dimmesdale, will burn from the inside out."
What a nicely crafted sentence.

Also, for the record, I think Pat's injunction on swearing applies only to gratuitous, abusive, or poorly executed profanity. It serves more to keep the tone high and vigorous than to placate prudish readers.

Patrick Armstrong said...

First of all, we're trying to keep the site PG-13 rated. "Ass" is OK. Avoid F and S bombs, and you should be fine.

That's really to keep conversation cordial more than anything else (hey it's worked well so far!) as letting it degenerate into a cuss fight doesn't help discourse.

And, Sprout, what part of "Culture of Life" did I miss out on here? I was going for a strict constructionalist version, like the one portrayed by Catholic punditry and pulpitry.

Am I now applying that ideal too stringently?

Am I to the right of the Church on this issue?

Am I reading too much into on-air and written statements?

Does the Catholic position on the rights of a woman to choose come with conditions that I am unaware of?

Maybe I'm too Choose-Life in my position to suit Catholic, a la carte tastes? Perhaps my "back the woman when she chooses life" stance is an anti-Catholic one?

When you believe in something, you walk the walk while you talk the talk. Extra sessions of confession don't help if you turn your back on the most important social platform of your organization so some Yankee soccer moms don't get all offended.

And I'm the one who's a la carte?

I still don't think so, Scooter.

As to this young lady being a marked scarlet woman, I'd rather refer to it as a red badge of courage.

She is doing the right thing, even if it is breaking the rules. Just like a group of old white crackers set about breakin' some rules back in the 1770's. Just like a young black woman refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Just like a group of German kids grabbed up some sledgehammers one night in 1989.

You can bet your law school hind quarters that, had this woman chosen to carry her pregnancy to term, and she got fired from a public school, every right to life organization in this fair country of ours would be in the streets threatenin' to burn the place down, (but somehow I'm the one being ideologically inconsistent).

patsbrother said...

First, may I say the second paragraph of Ruby's penultimate post is likely the most cogent and persuasive post to date.

Second: As to your asinine leap to painting this woman as a revolutionary, paT, each of the real revolutionaries you mentioned broke laws that needed to be broken. If you want to make the argument that the Church's stance on fornication is morally unsupportable or inconsistent with Church teachings, go right ahead. If you are unwilling to make that argument, do not compare this woman to George Washington or Rosa Parks. Their legacies mean more than doing something fun and owning up to the consequences.

Finally, should the Church reward me for not going out and killing someone? To you there may be a difference there, but I doubt there is one in the eyes of the Church. The Church teaches abortion is murder, and while the Church would surely prefer someone NOT kill, I do not expect it to bend over backwards each time someone doesn't commit a mortal sin. Pardon me if I am not so nihilistic as to assume the Church should expect the worst from people and "celebrate" them when they don't behave that bad.

Patrick Armstrong said...

RE: my assinine leap to portray this woman as a revolutionary.

Just as it is not an insult to say that a dead man is dead, it is not an assinine leap to compare someone who broke rules to other people who broke rules.

That's what we like to call critical thinking down here in South Georgia.

When we're not at the beach, that is...

I think the Church should celebrate life. It really is as simple as that.

I really can't tell how in the world the big "Culture of Death" proponent ended up chiding the Church on this issue because of their disrespect for their own "Culture of Life."

And I really can't understand how other folks whom I thought were on the left side of the aisle are arguing against me for supporting a woman's right to choose.

What is really counterintuitive is that a woman's right to choose, and that the choice was to have a baby, is under fire from both the academic left and the Catholic Church.

patsbrother said...

The following comment has only to do with logic:

"[I]t is not an assinine leap to compare someone who broke rules to other people who broke rules.

"That's what we like to call critical thinking down here in South Georgia."

Critical Thinking in South Georgia:

Hitler and Mother Theresa were causcasian. Patrick Armstrong is also caucasian. Therefore, Patrick Armstrong is like Hitler and Mother Theresa.

Oskar Schindler and molesting priests were all Catholic. Patrick Armstrong is Catholic. Schindler, molesting priest, and Patrick Armstrong are all similar.

George Washington and Rosa Parks each broke a rule. In getting knocked up, a Brooklyn woman broke a rule. Therefore, that Brooklyn woman is like Washington and Parks.

Each of the preceding is factually accurate. However, they are useless as they tell us NOTHING. The more relevently analogous information that is laid out between disparate entities, the more pertinent the comparison becomes. The opposite is also true.

Your line of reasoning here may be critical reasoning in Glynn County. Here in Clarke, its called stupid.

and just for one more:

George W. Bush, Howard Stern, and Patrick Armstrong all eat bread. Christ ate bread. Dubya, Howard, and paT are all Christ-ike.

Patrick Armstrong said...

I've never tried to hide my similarities to such people, so none of that is news to me.

Yes, I'm a white boy, and I share that characteristic with many people for good or ill.

Yes, I am Catholic, and I share that characteristic with many people, for good or ill.

Yes, I am a rule-breaker, and I share many characteristics with other rule breakers, for good or ill.

Yes, I eat bread. I too need to lower my carbs.

The critical thinking part comes in when you try to compare and contrast their similarities and differences and look at the whys of the situation.

For example: you and I share the same DNA and upbringing. One would wonder that, while the nature and the nurture were both strikingly similar, you and I come to odds often concerning our particular worldviews, language we use to speak about those worldviews, and whether embellishment is lying.

But we can still be compared and contrasted by others, which, to my knowledge, we often are, most of the time to the detriment of both of us.

That's why I already admitted you were right, that your logic was indisputable, and that I am nothing more than a raving lunatic.