Russell and Duenes

Archive for September 2010

Ten Dismal Years of “The Morning After” Pill

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Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the RU-486 pill, the so-called “morning after pill,” that allows women to attain a chemical abortion in the privacy of their own homes. It also has resulted in women’s deaths. Added to this is the new “ella” pill, another potential killer of women, which apparently is effective at killing the human embryo later in the pregnancy than RU-486. According to WebMD, “side effects of Ella…include headache, nausea, abdominal pain, pain/discomfort during menstruation (dysmenorrhea), fatigue, and dizziness.” Just what the doctor ordered, right? Not only this, but women have been contracepting via the “the pill” for some 50 years now, subjecting their bodies to all sorts of synthetic hormones that are bad for their health.

So while we’re pushing all sorts of deadly and destructive chemicals upon women to keep them from bearing children, telling them that the use of such pills is the key to their “liberation” and “freedom” and “equality;” our culture is also telling women to be health nuts: eat organic and fat/ sugar free, exercise like crazy, stay slim, get cancer screenings and pap smears. Does anyone else see the moral and spiritual confusion here? We tout the equality of women, but we have a profound hatred for the female body and its fertility. Women willingly go along with this trashing of their bodies in order to shut down their fertility, and National Organization for Women and Pro-choice feminist types not only having nothing to say against this, they positively encourage it. No woman can be truly free and liberated while at the same time loathing a part of her that is central to femininity.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

September 29, 2010 at 5:01 pm

The Contrite Heart, by William Cowper

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The Contrite Heart

The Lord will happiness divine
On contrite hearts bestow;
Then tell me, gracious God, is mine
A contrite heart or no?

I hear, but seem to hear in vain,
Insensible as steel;
If aught is felt, ’tis only pain,
To find I cannot feel.

I sometimes think myself inclined
To love Thee if I could;
But often feel another mind,
Averse to all that’s good.

My best desires are faint and few,
I fain would strive for more;
But when I cry, “My strength renew!”
Seem weaker than before.

Thy saints are comforted, I know,
And love Thy house of prayer;
I therefore go where others go,
But find no comfort there.

Oh make this heart rejoice or ache;
Decide this doubt for me;
And if it be not broken, break —
And heal it, if it be.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

September 29, 2010 at 5:42 am

Posted in Duenes, Poetry

Justice Scalia’s Prophetic Words in Lawrence v. Texas

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In light of the recent ruling on Prop 8 by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, we should consider the legal cover that was given him by the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas. In Lawrence the Supreme Court struck down a Texas statute banning sodomy, citing a “right to privacy” and Constitutionally protected liberty for homosexuals to engage privately in such behavior. The point at issue is not whether I think sodomy laws are good laws. The issue is clearly whether the Constitution guarantees the American people the right – through the legislative process – to criminally prohibit behaviors they find to be morally wrong. Clearly the Constitution does allow such a process, which is why the reasoning in Lawrence was wrong, and why it has led inevitably to the same bogus reasoning in Judge Walker’s ruling on Prop 8. Justice Scalia, in his dissent in Lawrence, saw such a thing coming, and properly and powerfully exposed the Court’s faulty jurisprudence.

One of the benefits of leaving regulation of this matter [i.e., sodomy] to the people rather than to the courts is that the people, unlike judges, need not carry things to their logical conclusion. The people may feel that their disapprobation of homosexual conduct is strong enough to disallow homosexual marriage, but not strong enough to criminalize private homosexual acts–and may legislate accordingly. The Court today pretends that it possesses a similar freedom of action, so that that we need not fear judicial imposition of homosexual marriage, as has recently occurred in Canada (in a decision that the Canadian Government has chosen not to appeal). See Halpern v. Toronto, 2003 WL 34950 (Ontario Ct. App.); Cohen, Dozens in Canada Follow Gay Couple’s Lead, Washington Post, June 12, 2003, p. A25. At the end of its opinion–after having laid waste the foundations of our rational-basis jurisprudence–the Court says that the present case “does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.” Do not believe it. More illuminating than this bald, unreasoned disclaimer is the progression of thought displayed by an earlier passage in the Court’s opinion, which notes the constitutional protections afforded to “personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education,” and then declares that “[p]ersons in a homosexual relationship may seek autonomy for these purposes, just as heterosexual persons do.” (emphasis added). Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned. If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is “no legitimate state interest” for purposes of proscribing that conduct, ante, at 18; and if, as the Court coos (casting aside all pretense of neutrality), “[w]hen sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring,” what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising “[t]he liberty protected by the Constitution,” ibid.? Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry. This case “does not involve” the issue of homosexual marriage only if one entertains the belief that principle and logic have nothing to do with the decisions of this Court. Many will hope that, as the Court comfortingly assures us, this is so.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

September 26, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Duenes, Supreme Court

What Does Man Get For All His Toil?

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So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless. A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.

What does the worker gain from his toil?

There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless— a miserable business!

So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?

Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot.

Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God.

So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

The previous statements all come from the wisdom of The Preacher in Ecclesiastes. But what are we to make of them? I’ve been reading Ecclesiastes with my students, and this business of “work, toil and labor” has been leaping off the page. Yet I find that I don’t know what to think about it. In one sense, the Preacher is telling us that all of our labor and work is a vanity, a chasing after the wind. In another sense, he sounds like some kind of 20th century existentialist, telling us to enjoy the sensate pleasures of life – eating, drinking and doing enjoyable work – because that is our lot in life. And then we have to look at these verses through the lens of the New Testament, which conveys to us – quite often in fact – that we should be about the business of making disciples and denying ourselves for the sake of the gospel. Hardly something that sounds consistent with “eat, drink and enjoy your labor, since you are quickly going to the grave.”

Of course the New Testament does tell us: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” And aren’t most of us spending the vast majority of our waking hours preparing and eating meals, commuting to work, making beds, taking showers, cleaning dishes, taking out trash, pushing papers, working farmlands, reading stories to children, paying bills, cleaning bathrooms, watering the lawn, sitting in business meetings or meeting with clients, chit-chatting with friends and family, going to the grocery store, and on and on? And is it not the “gift of God” to enjoy these things and find satisfaction in them? Indeed, does it not honor Christ by enjoying them and doing them “with all our might” and with excellence? And none of this precludes us from verbally sharing the gospel or from taking it to the ends of the earth. But it may cause us to question our understanding of what it means to “make disciples” and “take up our crosses.”

This doesn’t mean I understand exactly what the Preacher is counseling here, but I think there is a certain earthiness to his words, a sense that life is not always as complicated as we make it here in the “modern world.” Perhaps we ought to take more seriously the notion of simply trying to enjoy our day-to-day labors and toils of “eating and drinking” and vocational activities. For our days on this planet are few, and it is a true gift from God to be able to use our bodies and minds in productive labor, and we don’t know what is going to happen to all that we’ve produced once we’re dead. And if we carry on our work with gratitude and faithfulness to Christ, hoping to exalt his name in all of our doings, then perhaps we will not need to worry so much about all the particulars, about finding that “one perfect job” that we think God wants us to find, lest we be “out of his will.” If we are “boasting only in the cross of Christ” (Gal. 6:14), then perhaps we can choose to find something enjoyable to do, knowing that God will be pleased with it, since it comes from him and is offered back to him with faith and thankfulness. But I’d love to know others’ thoughts on this.

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

September 25, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Posted in Duenes, Theology, Work

They Had Less Than 48 Hours To Live!

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No man can contend with one who is stronger than he. Ecc. 6:10

William Manchester, in his seminal work on Winston Churchill (The Last Lion – Alone: 1932 – 1940), writes, “At 11:13 P.M., May 8th, 1940, when the [British] House of Commons adjourned, thousands of Dutch, Belgians, and Luxembourgers had less than forty-eight hours to live, though they were unaware of it; in those days civilized nations mobilized, exchanged hostile notes, and then formally declared war. Nevertheless, guards on the borders of each of these small countries were puzzled and troubled by the total silence on the German side of their frontiers. Hitler had signed nonaggression pacts with each and repeatedly and solemnly reaffirmed them, vowing that not a single hobnailed Wehrmacht boot would ever touch their soil. They had taken little comfort from that; he had told too many grosse Lugen; his credibility had vanished and been replaced by fear. The Third Reich, possessing the most powerful military juggernaut Europe had ever known, was recognized as a terrorist nation, the very essence of Schrecklichkeit, the stuff of nightmares” (662-3).

And just how powerful was this “military juggernaut?”

Manchester tells us: “On Germany’s side of the Rhine, the Fuhrer had assembled 136 divisions and their reserves – two million men, including a contingent wearing uniforms of the Netherlands army and fluent in the Dutch language. The Low Countries would be overwhelmed by vast surging waves of infantry and armor ‘unprecedented for size, concentration, mobility,” [William L.] Shirer wrote, which ‘stretched in three columns back for a hundred miles beyond the Rhine” (672). I tried to fathom this today. Three columns of soldiers, along with tanks, artillery and air force, stretching back from the Bay Area some twenty miles past Sacramento to the east. It beggars the imagination. It is a horror to contemplate. Such wicked force moving against such weakness.

Of course, Churchill, for almost a decade, did everything in his power to warn against Nazi aggression, that it might be checked in its infancy. To no avail. Manchester concludes, “In those shabby years His Majesty’s Governments believed that there were some things the country ought not to know, and that their policy of duplicity – which at times amounted to conspiracy – would be vindicated in the end” (688). One weeps for the gut-wrenching and incalculable loss of human life that resulted. When once the Germans were so powerful, how could all the people to the west of them contend with them? As the Preacher also tells us, it was all so terrifyingly predictable: “Whatever exists has already been named, and what man is has been known.”

So Hitler and the Nazi’s killed their millions. But what of us? What of our millions? What of our over 35 million American children legally killed since 1973, before they ever saw the light of day? How can they “contend with one who is stronger than they?” What does wisdom tell us? “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?” (Prov.24:11-12)

-D

Written by Michael Duenes

September 23, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Posted in Duenes, History, Theology