Sunday, May 08, 2005

Planning Ahead for a MERRY CHRISTMAS in 2005

This is the second post I moved from my old Blog. Here it is, as it appeared.

Now that the Christmas holidays are behind us, I thought I would comment a bit on the over-blown controversy regarding the public display of nativity scenes and other religious items during what some prefer to call the "Holiday Season", in the hopes that next year, we can all respect and enjoy each other's beliefs and customs.

First, I most certainly believe in the separation of church and state. Without it, there have been times in our country's history when, I believe, I would have been kept from practising my Roman Catholic faith. But separation does not mean, to me anyway, that the government cannot allow us to learn from one another on public property. In fact, by not allowing all religions to display items at their special times of year, the government would be keeping us from learning about each other. And that is detrimental to society as a whole.

Second, I also believe that having fun is a good thing. I think it is positive for the the government to, on occasion, promote things that are fun. And, Christmas displays are, quite often, fun.

Third, as to the actual issue of whether or not such displays should appear on public property, I say, "Why not?" As long as the city, state or other government entity also pays for (or simply allows) displays of Hannukah, Kwaanza, Ramandan and/or whatever Buddhists, Hindus or other serious religions celebrate at their special times of year. This can be done even if such celebrations overlap. The government entity can simply set aside a public area for such displays, set up the rules to ensure some degree of order, and put up, or allow the public to place, items that celebrate the particular holiday in question. What is important is that each religion receive equal treatment by the government entity. If it pays for a Christian display, it must pay for other religions. If it allows private parties to pay for holiday displays on public property, it must do the same for holidays of all religions. In short, as long as everyone is treated equally, let's all just simmer down and have a good time!

The idea would be to learn about and from each other. This promotes a neighborly attitude towards our fellow citizens and, therefore, is a positive thing.
We often hear about how other people of non-Christian religions feel bad about the constant Christmas cheer, etc. But I see no reason we cannot all have a nice Birthday Party for Jesus and celebrate together.

I know that Moslems believe that Jesus was a prophet. Some Jews believe the same. I once knew a Buddhist that celebrated Christmas. I asked her how she could do that, since she was not a Christian. She told me that she believed the story of Christ, she just does not accept that there is only one god. So, Jesus just sort of got added to her list of gods. While some Christians might be offended at that, I choose to respect her beliefs. I also chose to celebrate with her the birth of Jesus. We always had a great time together at the office Christmas party. By the way, she owned the business. And she paid for and gave wonderful parties every year which she called the "Christmas party".

I once knew an atheist who celebrated Christmas because he said that Christ was the world's greatest philosopher. That the teachings of Jesus were worth living, and, therefore, His birth was worth celebrating, and His death worth mourning. My friend, simply did not believe in any kind of God. But he was more of a Christian than many people who attend church every Sunday.

What is Christmas, really? It is, quite simply, the day set aside, even though it is probably not the ACTUAL day, it is the day decided on, to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Since we do not know the ACTUAL day, December 25th is as good a day as any to celebrate.

When I was in first grade, my teacher, a nun, told us why we give gifts at Christmas. She said we give a gift to someone because we cannot give a material one to Jesus. The person we give the gift to represents Jesus for us. And when we accept a gift at Christmas, we are accepting for Him. That is why every gift you give must be carefully chosen, and every gift you receive must be accepted graciously.


If you are a Moslem, celebrate the birth of a prophet.

If you are a Jew, do the same, and find, you have something in common with your Islamic brother.

If you are a Buddhist, celebrate the birth of a god.

Some Hindus can do the same.

If you are an athiest or an agnostic, celebrate the birth of a wonderful philosopher, a man whose ideas changed the world.

As for me, I am a Roman Catholic. I will celebrate the birth of my Lord and Savior. I hope you will come to the most important birthday party of the year, and have the best time ever!

I also hope you will respect me when I say "MERRY CHRISTMAS!", and I will respect you whether return it or say, "Happy Holidays".

Abortion and the 2004 Election

The following appeared in an old Blog at in September of 2004. I moved my blog to where you are now, but thought it might be nice to bring some entries with me, rather than lose the archive altogether. I cannot figure out how to move the comments, though. Here is the entry as it appeared, in it's entirety, typos and all.

As a Catholic, I think, perhaps, I should say a few things about abortion and why I continue to vote Democrat.

First, while many Catholics are against birth control. Most see the benefit of promoting birth control over abortion. In addition, most Catholics do not feel the need to control non-Catholics choices in this area.

But when a woman becomes pregnant and it is both unplanned and unwanted, ADOPTION is the word most Catholics want to hear. Help for the mother during that time and the promotion of adoption to prevent abortion.

EDUCATION is another word--education about what abortion is and alternatives to it.

The Republican Party has failed utterly and miserably to deal with both education and adoption as alternatives to abortion.

Second, there is always the matter of conscience. And whatever you may have read or seen in the media, the personal conscience of an individual can take precidence over any bishop's instructions. In other words, there is no ruling by the Catholic Church that says a Catholic must vote for pro-life candidates.

Next, I am going to tell you of some personal experiences and how they helped convince me that the only way to save babies is to vote Democrat.

I used to work for a temporary service. I also have one of those personalities where people I do not know well tend to talk to me about very personal things. I think, also, since I was a temp and only going to be there for a few days, these women felt "safe" confiding in me.

There are two stories in particular--I do not recall the name of one of the women, the first was named Karen. Never did know their last names. But here goes...

This one woman, her first name was Karen, her story would break your heart. She was unmarried and pregant. Wanted to keep her baby. Had it all figured out how to afford it except for one thing--daycare. It was the straw that broke her financial back. She went to her mother and asked for help--her mom didn't work and had time to help. What Karen needed was for someone to care for the baby until the raises Karen projected for herself came through. She figured in a year or two she would have enough money to pay for daycare. She made to much to qualify for any aid. Her mom refused to help. Suggested an abortion and took a stunned Karen to get one. I recall Karen telling me how her mother was "like a rock" in supporting her abortion. And I thought what a mess Karen will be one day when all this sinks in.

My point is this, and most Catholics will respond to it: THAT BABY WOULD BE ALIVE IF WE HAD AFFORDABLE DAYCARE IN THIS COUNTRY.

The second woman, whose name I have forgotten, was married. She and her husband wanted children. Both were new college grads and had not planned to have a baby for a couple of years. She was working two jobs, as was he, to pay off their college loans and the bills that come about when one starts a new household. She knew she could get her mom to help with the baby. But she never asked. Why? Health insurance. Neither she nor her husband had any. Neither came from families that had anything to give their kids to help them out. She sat with me and showed me where all their money went. As she did so, I could see she was desperately trying to show herself that she had made the right decision. And the truth was, there was barely an extra $20 a month. She had scraped together the $200 or so needed for the abortion by depleting their savings account , but not what was needed to give birth. HER BABY IS DEAD FOR LACK OF HEALTH CARE.

What is worse, and what makes me truly ill to think about, is BOTH of these children were WANTED.

We do not keep statistics in this country of WHY people have abortions, only that they do. My guess is, most women would choose another alternative if it were given them. How many babies have been killed because of cuts to our social programs? We have no idea.

Before abortion was legal, we did not keep statistics of who had them. We didn't know. My guess is, that making abortion illegal would not save any child. I know older women who have told me they know of more women who had abortions before it was legal than after. Changing social norms--the lack of stigma for out-of-wedlock children has saved a LOT of babies.

Now, here is the final argument that changed my attitude towards voting and abortion. I used to work with a Buddhist lady. We got into a discussion about abortion and she was stunned that I believed that life begins at conception. She said that her religion (or sect of Buddhism--I do not know enough about the religion to state exactly) believes that the soul enters the body a month after birth.

What my discussion with her led me to, was a knowledge that abortion is a matter of SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE! I, as a Catholic, have the right, indeed the responsibility, to express my religious beliefs. But I do not have the right to ENFORCE them on another. The reason Catholics are against abortion is we believe that life begins at conception. This is a belief, not scientific fact. If anyone could PROVE that life begins at conception, it would be a different story.

What is needed is to take away the REASONS why women feel the need for an abortion. And that takes social services. And that takes taxes. If conservative Republicans want to save babies, they need to pay taxes for social programs. If abortion were illegal, these women would simply go underground to get them. If the social services are there, they will choose to raise their children.

The other thing that truly scares me, are the number of baby boomer non-church going Republicans who believe abortion should be legal because it SAVES on social services. I have had arguments with these types who actually said that if you make the choice to have the child, the financial responsibility is all yours. And this just made me want to puke---one person actually said "Don't pick my pocket to pay for someone else's kid". He was perfectly happy to have the hypothetical child we were discussing, dead. I mentioned that fact--that killing someone was preferential to him than paying more taxes. And he did not have a problem with it whatsoever. I have had similar discussions with several non-church going Republicans. It always stuns me.

Now, back to the sepration of church and state thing...One of the things about being a Democrat that makes me unhappy are the words "a woman's right to choose". It actually makes my stomach turn when I hear it at rallies. And I have spoken with other Democrats, who are also Catholic, and they feel the same way. To us, it might as well be "a woman's right to kill". I know that sounds harsh, but it is how we feel and it does makes us truly feel ill.

By the way, Sen. Kerry is a Catholic. I have heard him say he supports adoption over abortion and that he would like to see ways to encourage it. Maybe the media should have spent more time sharing that sound byte?

If anyone on reading this feels that my words here would make sense to anyone you know, who is considering voting for Democrats (not just Kerry), please feel free to forward this, or just copy and paste it--whatever is easiest.