BY Msgr. Charles Pope
I was talking recently with a friend and we were both lamenting the “strange and stranger” quality of our culture today; we had both seen the video at the bottom of this post. In it, the interviewer (who is a 5’9” white man), through a series of questions, gets a number of college students to accept that he is actually a 6’5” Chinese woman, or, alternately, a seven-year-old boy. They consider the way he “identifies” himself to be more significant than the obvious reality before them.
That such an appeal can convince a college student (or anyone for that matter) demonstrates that we have collectively taken leave of our senses. My friend said that the image that came to his mind was of the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice in Wonderland. When something as obvious as a person’s sex is unclear, when large numbers of people are willing to go along with calling a well-known man and former Olympic decathlete a woman, we have definitely fallen down a rabbit hole into a strange and nightmarishly bizarre world marked by absurdity after absurdity.
Alice in Wonderland may capture it, but to me it is more reminiscent of the children’s story The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. The tale contains many eerie parallels with our current culture. While most are familiar with the tale, I will provide a brief synopsis:
The story begins with an Emperor who is described as being excessively fond of new clothes. Knowing his weakness and seeking to profit by it, two swindlers offer to weave him a set of glorious set of clothes with the wonderful property of being invisible to anyone who is unfit for the office he holds or who is extraordinarily simple. The Emperor is intrigued by the idea of being able to find out who within his realm is unfit for his office as well to be able distinguish between the wise and the foolish. So he pays the swindlers a large sum of money and supplies them with copious quantities of expensive fabrics (which they stash in their bags) so that they can begin work immediately.
The Emperor periodically sends members of his staff to observe their progress. The rogues point to the empty looms and pretend to point out the magnificence of the non-existent material. But none of them will admit to seeing nothing and each returns to the Emperor with a glowing report of the splendid cloth. Finally, the Emperor himself pays a visit to the weavers (and also, obviously, sees nothing at all). Embarrassed by his inability to see the cloth, he (like the others) pretends to be amazed by its beauty.
Finally, the day arrives for the Emperor to wear these glorious clothes in a procession through the kingdom. The “clothes” are brought out by the swindlers, who explain that they are “as light as a spider’s web. One would almost think he had nothing on, but that’s what makes them so fine.” The Emperor undresses and the rogues pretend to dress him, one garment after another. This is all done to the applause and fawning commentary of both the Emperor and his entourage, all of whom see nothing at all!
Then the procession begins. The nearly naked Emperor parades through the streets under his high canopy, accompanied by noblemen carrying the ends of his magnificent, invisible train. The townsfolk, not wanting to be considered simpletons, applaud the magnificent clothes and comment aloud on the Emperor’s “finery.”
But then a young child, not yet fearful of the opinions of others, states the obvious: “But the emperor has nothing at all on!”
As the news of the child’s cry passes through the crowd, they become emboldened and begin to repeat, “He has nothing at all on!”
On hearing this, the Emperor realizes that the people are right. However, he decides that the procession must go on. And so he continues walking along in his underwear, with his staff taking greater care than ever in maintaining the façade, holding up the train that doesn’t exist.
And thus we have a parable for our times. Like the Emperor in the tale, many are willing to imagine things in order to preserve their vanity. And out of fear of being considered unenlightened, intolerant, etc., they play along with what is obviously absurd: that a man can really be a woman, or that human beings come in dozens of genders rather than two, or that a man having sexual relations with another man is not disordered, or that a child in the womb is something other than a human person, or that the head of the largest abortion provider in the U.S. should be honored at a Catholic university with a standing ovation, etc. Yes, many play along with the absurd.
And those who raise objections or state that such views are not in conformity with basic reality, those who say (in effect) that “the emperor has no clothes” are told to be quiet, to not talk about the obvious absurdity before everyone’s eyes. Such people are labeled unenlightened and intolerant because they cannot see the “beauty” that the enlightened and tolerant can.
In the story above, a mere child could easily see the absurdity before him and simply spoke to what was obvious; children are often that way. They have less to lose. They have not yet become jaded by flattery and the thousand little (and big) lies we adults like to tell ourselves and others. Little children have not yet gotten the memo that appearing right is more important than being right. They are still shocked by lies and inconsistency; they often speak the truth in impolite, unrefined, and even blunt ways.
But as innocence dies out and circumspection dawns, too many of us begin to indulge deception. We go along to get along, “drinking the Kool-Aid” of a world gone increasingly mad. Even as the absurdity multiplies and we are asked to deny the plainly obvious, the fear among many of being considered unenlightened seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.
Here’s to the little child in us that is still shocked by lies, inconsistencies, and absurdity. Here’s to that innocent child who can still cry out, “But the emperor has nothing at all on!”
For having known God, they glorified Him not and neither were they thankful; but they became vain in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened (Rom 1:21).
Here is the video that sparked this post. Absurdity seems to know no limits.
Knights of Columbus Provides Major Report on Genocide of Christians to State DepartmentReport made public at National Press Club event today WASHINGTON, March 10, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The major report that makes the case that the terror campaign being waged against Christians by ISIS and its affiliates against Christians and other religious minorities meets the definition of genocide was released today at a news conference at the National Press Club by the Knights of Columbus (K of C) and In Defense of Christians (IDC). It was presented to the State Department yesterday.The 280-page report includes substantial material not previously available, including the most comprehensive information to date on Christians who have been killed, kidnapped, raped, sold into slavery, driven from their homes, and dispossessed, as well as on churches that have been destroyed. It also details interviews with witnesses to the atrocities that were collected during a Knights of Columbus fact-finding mission to Iraq last month.Senior State Department officials had requested that the K of C produce such a report four weeks ago, as they neared a congressionally mandated March 17 deadline for making a determination as to whether or not ISIS was committing genocide against Christians and other minority groups. The report is available online at http://www.kofc.org and http://www.StopTheChristianGenocide.org. The latter site also hosts a petition on this subject to Secretary of State John Kerry. It has been signed by more than 60,000 people.The report includes an executive summary, a legal brief outlining the case for a genocide declaration, and addenda including summaries of witness interviews, a database of crimes known to have been committed against Christians by ISIS and its affiliated groups, lists of Christians killed, estimates of the number of dead in various regions under ISIS control, statements by other governments and world leaders, and additional evidence of ISIS’ intent and actions against Christians that has been widely overlooked in the Western media.”There is only one word that adequately, and legally, describes what is happening to Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. That word is genocide,” said Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson in presenting the report Thursday morning.He pointed out that the UN Convention on genocide and U.S. statue that mirror it state that genocide occurs even when the destruction of the group is “in part.” He also noted that non-legal terms such as “ethnic” or “religious” cleansing or even legal terms such as “crimes against humanity” lack the adequate elements necessary to address the situation.He continued: “In her 2002 book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, wrote that ‘the United States had never in its history intervened to stop genocide, and in fact rarely even made a point of condemning it as it occurred.’ She documents a long history of American inaction in places like Bosnia, Rwanda, and Cambodia.”Anderson commended “the courageous action of [then] Secretary of State Colin Powell who became the first member of any United States Administration to apply the label genocide to an ongoing conflict when he reported to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that ‘genocide has been committed in Darfur … and that genocide may still be occurring.”He noted that “Secretary of State Kerry has a similar opportunity to exercise moral leadership.” Support for calling what is happening to Christians – and other religious minorities – genocide includes a global consensus, a strong majority of the American people according to a K of C-Marist poll and bi-partisan support from candidates of both parties including former Secretary of State Clinton who applied the label to what is happening to Christians.As the report makes clear, both U.S. and international law are clear on the matter, and this case meets the legal definition of genocide at every level.Anderson also noted that 200-plus members of Congress from both parties are co-sponsoring H. Con. Res. 75. He added that “today we renew our support for this excellent piece of legislation and applaud its progress.””The evidence contained in this report as well as the evidence relied upon by the European Parliament fully support—I would suggest compel—the conclusion that reasonable grounds exist to believe the crime of genocide has been committed,” Anderson said.”While we believe this to be the most comprehensive report on this subject to date, covering incidents in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Yemen, we continue to receive new reports and new evidence,” said Anderson. But with new reports pouring in every day, he cautioned: “It may only be the tip of the iceberg.”Anderson noted that Secretary of State John Kerry himself in August 2014 stated: “ISIL’s campaign of terror against the innocent, including Yezidi (sic) and Christian minorities, and its grote
Source: Knights of Columbus Provides Major Report on Genocide of Christians to State Department — WASHINGTON, March 10, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —
Last week, TV actress Amy Brenneman told the women’s magazine Cosmopolitan that she has never regretted her abortion.Brenneman said she felt prompted to tell her story after asking Nancy Keenan, the former president of the radical pro-abortion group NARAL, why the pro-abortion movement is losing support while the pro-life movement is gaining it.“She answered with one simple word: ‘stories,’” Brenneman said. “This makes sense to me. I am a storyteller by trade, after all. I believe that we connect and learn by the specifics of stories, our own and others’.”“I have never, not for one moment, regretted my abortion. My husband of 20 years and I became parents when we had built a home to nurture our children. Indeed, being a parent has only strengthened my commitment to reproductive justice as access to legal abortion allows children a fighting chance to be born into families that desire them and can support them,” she said.Now, Rep. Diane Black, a Tennessee congresswoman, has written an open letter to Brenneman.Black was a registered nurse for 40 years. Her letter follows:I read with interest your February 29th column in Cosmopolitan magazine about your personal experience with abortion. While we approach this sensitive issue from different viewpoints, I thank you for sharing your story. I agree that women, regardless of their opinion, should talk honestly about this matter. I also know that some who, like me, identify as pro-life and oppose abortion have not always conveyed that opinion with the compassion and empathy that should be afforded to this topic on both sides of the debate, and for that I am sorry.CLICK LIKE IF YOU’RE PRO-LIFE! Like you, I know what it is like to be single, pregnant, and uncertain of what the future holds. I was carrying my youngest child to term when my first husband left me amid the demons of alcoholism. Later, in my career as an emergency room nurse, I met other young women in this same precarious position. I believe that the pro-life community has a responsibility to those women. It is why I have long supported the work of my local crisis local pregnancy center and other nonprofits that offer real, tangible help to women in this very situation – everything from diapers and formula to counseling and prayer.I want you to know that I agree with you on the need to defend every woman’s right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” As you and I know, this has not historically been the case and I am keenly aware of those whose shoulders I now stand on as a woman who cannot only vote but can also serve in Congress.I want every young girl, including my two granddaughters, to be able to – as you say – “choose their destiny.” I believe that protecting those rights, however, starts with protecting the most foundational right of all: the right of a preborn, human being with a beating heart to see the light of day. A young woman cannot choose her destiny if her life is cut short in the womb.When we frame abortion as a means of female empowerment, we don’t tell the full story. Indeed, studies show that abortions worldwide disproportionately impacts baby girls. Consider a 2012 report in Britain’s Daily Telegraph on abortion practices in India, where there are believed to be as many as eight million cases of female sex-selective abortion over the last decade, a phenomenon that is now affecting the country’s overall gender ratio.
I say this not to shame any woman who has made the difficult decision to have an abortion but rather in hopes of raising the consciousness of this nation so we can enact needed protections for these members of the human family.
Specific to your concerns on the Texas abortion law now in question before the United States Supreme Court in the case of Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt, I readily admit my own bias. That said, I believe the standards you call “onerous” and “unnecessary” to be quite modest.
As you know, the disputed Texas law has two key provisions. First, it requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles so that a patient receiving an abortion can be quickly transferred in the event of complications and, secondly, it requires abortion clinics to abide by the same safety standards and licensing requirements as other outpatient surgery centers in the state. To be clear, the law does not attempt to illegalize abortion at any stage of pregnancy.
I passionately believe in protecting the unborn, but I also believe equal attention must be devoted to protecting their mothers. While I disagree with the choice of abortion, I do not believe any woman should lose her life at the hands of an unregulated, unsafe abortion clinic or a fly-by-night abortion doctor. That is what this law aims to prevent.
It is my hope that women’s advocates – and you are certainly a needed and influential one – will take a deeper look at this law and applaud these commonsense standards rather than attempt to turn back the clock and strip them away.