I borrowed a bit for my first car and paid it off over the following 12 months – and anyway the entire amount was about NZ$2000. That was a long time ago and I have shared a mortgage since then but have never had any serious debt. I struggle to understand how people who are $10,000 over their credit card limit can sleep at night, though apparently some do. It’s scary.
For the same reason I wonder how many Greeks are sleeping well these days, when their country is broke and they can’t even get at their own cash. But, in an article by the Acton Institute’s Samuel Gregg on public debt we are reminded that they are not the only ones; the Western world is awash in debt. Does it matter? Some economists say no, but there are political implications, says Gregg. You know, revolutions and things like that. Personally, I'd prefer to practise a little voluntary austerity than wake up to broadcasts from a military junta.
Today also we continue with reflections on the same-sex marriage debate (yes, there still is a debate!) post the US Supreme Court majority decision that what is patently absurd is actually a Constitutional right. We have to fight on, but how?
In times past, censorship was imposed on the media by totalitarians who regarded dissent as unpatriotic and subversive. They would close down newspapers or send gangs of thugs to smash the presses.
Things operate differently nowadays. Censorship is self-imposed. The most remarkable example that I have come across after the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling legalising same-sex marriage comes from The Patriot-News of Harrisburg, the capital of the state of Pennsylvania. The paper has a new editorial policy: it "will very strictly limit op-Eds and letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage. These unions are now the law of the land. And we will not publish such letters and op-Eds any more than we would publish those that are racist, sexist or anti-Semitic."
So there you have it. No more dissent. No more subversive opinions. Anyone who argues that marriage can only be between one man and one woman is a dangerous bigot. In this case the editor was remarkably candid. I wonder how many other media outlets will quietly implement this poiicy. Anyhow, here at MercatorNet, we plan to continue putting the case for natural marriage. It is an essential to human dignity and human flourishing.
The focus of today’s newsletter is, of course, the US Supreme Court’s green light to same-sex marriage. This is of global interest as other countries will surely follow suit.
It cannot be denied that many Americans support same-sex marriage, even if they do not understand it. But it is dangerous for legalization to come through a judicial decision. It cuts off democratic debate, disenfranchising and angering a large part of the electorate. As Chief Justice Roberts wrote in his dissent, “There will be consequences to shutting down the political process on an issue of such profound public significance. Closing debate tends to close minds.”
Five judges who by no stretch of the imagination are average Joes have imposed their vision of what constitutes liberty on the country, in what Justice Scalia called a “judicial Putsch”. As Justice Alito pointed out in his dissent, it diminishes the prestige of the Supreme Court.
“If a bare majority of Justices can invent a new right and impose that right on the rest of the country, the only real limit on what future majorities will be able to do is their own sense of what those with political power and cultural influence are willing to tolerate. Even enthusiastic supporters of same-sex marriage should worry about the scope of the power that today’s majority claims.”
Here’s something they never tell you when you are a kid: One day you may end up clipping and filing the toenails of those you love.One day you may end up clipping and filing the toenails of those you love.
That's Scott Stanley, an academic and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, getting down to the nitty gritty of looking after your own, in a piece we have reproduced from the IFS site today. (I highly recommend this site for great research articles by top-notch family scholars, by the way.) He explains:
In recent months, one of my brothers has had serious health issues and he’s been unable to trim his own toenails. That’s how I came to do it. Twice. I never, ever, thought I’d be doing that, but there I was, clipping, filing, and buffing.
When the hospital or nursing home won't do it because of, er, "liability", and you can't afford to get the podiatrist in, who is going to do it for you? Furthermore, what will it take for them to perform this humble but vital service? Read Stanley's highly original argument for strong family bonds. It struck a deep chord with me.
After two days there's plenty of other good reading as well, to tide you over the weekend.
Thanks be to God, I missed out entirely on the 10-year-long program Bridezilla, a reality TV show about truly appalling women preparing for the wedding of the century. Mostly living in Manhattan, the poor things were pilloried for their obsessive and intolerably demanding wedding preparations. Rolling one's eyes at the absurdity of their demands has become a popular meme on the internet. "I was thinking that we should start a daily google docs, where everyone can update in real time their daily calorie content," was a directive issued by one Bridezilla to her bridal party.
That's why iit is refreshing to read some of the reflections made by Tamara Rajakariar, the editor of Family Edge, as her August wedding approaches. She repudiates the Bridezilla culture. "My goal is to be a 'selfless bride'," she writes, "despite what society tells me I should be. Not because it sounds fancy, but because I’m pretty sure it’ll ensure a much happier day." It's a charming article, written straight from the heart. Check it out.
The concept of “elder orphans” never came into focus for me until I read Shannon Roberts’ article below on the silver tsunami of ageing baby-boomers. “About one-third of Americans aged 45 to 63 are single, a 50% increase from 1980, and nearly 19% of women aged 40 to 44 have no children, compared to 10% in 1980,” she writes.
An awful lot of loneliness is coming our way. One of the experts she cites, Dr Joyce Varner, believes that 60% of nursing home residents do not have regular visitors. "I see a lot of sadness and regret on the part of the elderly people who decided not to have children," says Dr Varner. "A lot of fear. 'How are we going to get care? Is there going to be anyone with me at the end of life?'" This is going to be one of the great human rights issues of our time: protecting the elderly. Shannon’s article is sobering, but a must-read.
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PS – during the summer (in the northern hemisphere, that is) MercatorNet newsletters will only be posted out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Sunday is Father's Day in North America and quite a few other places, but today is Holy Father's Day, this being the official launch date of Pope Francis' eagerly/nervously/sceptically/hopefully awaited Encyclical Letter Laudoto si'. At this moment everyone is making of it what they will.
For my money, Robert Cortes has identified the core idea in his article today when he quotes this sentence: “The [or "An"] integral ecology requires openness to categories that transcend the language of the exact sciences or biology and are tied to the essence of the human being.” Human beings have a nature, too, and if we don't stop our abuse of that nothing else is going to get fixed.
Meanwhile Marcus Roberts is very happy to have found a great passage in the encyclical on population control.
Anyway, we all need to read it for ourselves. You can read and download it at the Vatican website. Straight after Father's Day dinner. And that reminds me -- Happy Father's Day, all the dads!
Today we reproduce an important article by Paul McHugh, University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medical School and the former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital. In the 1960s Johns Hopkins pioneered "sex reassignment surgery", but after Dr McHugh arrived there they reviewed the programme and found that the psycho-social adjustment of those who had the surgery was no better than those who did not. So they stopped doing these operations.
At least those experiments were done on adults. Now, children are being set on the path of "sex change" with counselling and then puberty blocking drugs. Dr Mc Hugh reminds us that the victims of this madness extend beyond the children themselves:
I am ever trying to be the boy among the bystanders who points to what’s real. I do so not only because truth matters, but also because overlooked amid the hoopla—enhanced now by Bruce Jenner’s celebrity and Annie Leibovitz’s photography—stand many victims. Think, for example, of the parents whom no one—not doctors, schools, nor even churches—will help to rescue their children from these strange notions of being transgendered and the problematic lives these notions herald. These youngsters now far outnumber the Bruce Jenner type of transgender.
We have already recommended this article on our Facebook page, but if you haven't read it, please do. In a world where mental health professionals collectively seem to have lost their wits (and many teachers and clerics with them), Dr McHugh's is a rare voice for sanity.
"The Pope! How many divisions has he got?" Stalin once sneered. None, of course, but nowadays the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics doesn't have any either. So it seems wise not to underestimate the influence of the Pope, however battered his Church might appear to be.
To my amazement, long before the publication of the new eco-encyclical of Pope Francis, the media is queuing up to praise it. For instance, the British columnist George Monbiot, whose impeccably progressive credentials are beyond dispute, writes in The Guardian:
Pope Francis, a man with whom I disagree profoundly on matters such as equal marriage and contraception, reminds us that the living world provides not only material goods and tangible services, but is also essential to other aspects of our wellbeing. And you don’t have to believe in God to endorse that view.
At the beginning of Syria's brutal civil war, about 10 percent of the population was Christian. Now hundreds of thousands have fled from the fighting and the fanatics of ISIS who are slaughtering and enslaving captured Christians. What is the West doing to stop the increasingly rapid erosion of Christianity in the Middle East, asks the Melkite Archbishop of Aleppo in an article below.