Friday 31st October 2014

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

A Book Review… The Loss Of Non-Negotiable Truths

August 17, 2014 Featured Today No Comments

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN

Non-Negotiable: Essential Principles of a Just Society and Humane Culture, by Sheila Liaugminas (Ignatius Press, San Francisco: 2014), 158 pp., $17.95. Available through www.ignatius.com.

To make sense of the moral chaos, divisive political issues, and culture wars precipitated by the sexual revolution of the 1960s, it is essential to begin at the beginning and examine the first premises of moral truths and political philosophies. If one is lost in a labyrinth, it makes no sense to continue forward into the maze but to return to the entrance.
As C.S. Lewis comments in the preface to The Great Divorce, “A wrong sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on. Evil can be undone, but it cannot ‘develop’ into good.”
Sheila Liaugminas’ cogent, incisive argument — rich with copious quotations and many scholarly references — leads the mind to first principles and moral clarity in a mad world that has lost its way and continues to presume that, somehow, evil can “develop” into good.
The book reviews great political documents, Church teachings, and public statements that center the book’s argument on the premise of human dignity, the logical starting point for all rational discourse.
The Declaration of Independence states as a self-evident truth that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address also affirmed the equality, dignity, and worth of all people regardless of race. The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes “faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women.”
The Catholic Church has proclaimed throughout the ages the inestimable worth of each person and the sacredness of human life — a “non-negotiable” truth that Popes and bishops have consistently taught in statements in defense of life, “the Catholic commitment to defend human life, from conception until natural death, in the fundamental moral obligation to respect the dignity of every person as a child of God.”
Most recently, the Manhattan Declaration also appeals to this great tradition in Western civilization that upholds man’s moral dignity as the rationale for the sacredness of life, the sanctity of marriage, and the freedom of religion that modern secular society has impugned. As the author shows with impressive evidence, once this perennial idea of universal rights and unconditional human worth loses its status as a self-evident truth or first premise, moral anarchy in all its monstrous forms multiplies. One evil leads to two which leads to four, and the cycle continues.
For example, the trial of Kermit Gosnell revealed that the late-term abortionist killed babies who survived by “snipping” — cutting the spinal cord with a scissors. Abby Johnson’s testimony of an abortion in UnPlanned also exposes the revolting sight of a baby struggling in self-defense as she describes “the sudden jerk of a tiny foot as the baby started kicking, as if trying to move away from the probing invader . . . the baby struggling to twist and turn away.”
The cruel, unnatural act of abortion also leads to other horrors, one that rarely receives the public attention it deserves, “the increased risks of suicide or ‘suicide ideation’ (medical risk disclosure).” To wander in the maze of abortion and claim no one knows when life begins or it is “above my pay grade” as President Obama remarked is unconscionable ignorance: “The facts are available in any medical textbook and undeniable even without a medical degree that human life begins at conception.”
As a senator from Illinois, Obama reasoned that babies who survived abortion deserved no protection or the right to life “because the Equal Protection Clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute.” All the ugliness of evil and all the tortured logic to justify infanticide follow from man’s disdain for the dignity of the person.
The denial of personhood to slaves or babies ultimately leads to a contempt for old age and the legalization of euthanasia. The grim details of Terry Schiavo’s legalized death by starvation and dehydration — especially when her family was committed to her care during the coma — amount to torture and defy all medical ethics.
Quoting from an editorial from National Review Online, Liaugminas again exposes the blatant flouting of just law and human decency: Mrs. Schiavo was not killed by depriving her of air or given a lethal injection because “they would have been too obviously murder. So the court-ordered killing was carried out slowly, incrementally, over days and weeks.”
This loss of respect for the elderly invites another hideous reality, Hitler’s classification of human beings as “useless eaters.” Once one class of human being loses its dignity, all persons are subject to discrimination.

A Post-Human Species

This sense of the macabre continues in the realm of embryonic stem-cell research and cloning where utilitarianism prevails over human dignity. Human beings become a means to an end, mere embryos from abortions subjected to scientific experimentation in the name of medical progress and the discovery of cures — a violation not only of human dignity but also an utterly irrational venture when legitimate adult stem-cell research has produced more success.
While the prospect of cloning wears the glamour of medical cures, the sordid truth borders on madness — what Wesley Smith calls “the essential technology to learning how to genetically engineer human life, a technology with which ‘transhumanists’ hope to create a ‘post-human species’.”
When the ideal of human dignity fails to inform the legal and medical profession, the nightmares of science fiction like Frankenstein assume stark reality.
The attack on human dignity not only breeds a culture of death and the ugliness of sin but also spreads disease. When no-fault divorce, cohabitation, and same-sex unions rob marriage of its honor and dignity, a Pandora’s Box of diseases, pestilences, and cares runs riot. Statistics illustrate the increase of divorce, out-of-wedlock births, and sexually transmitted disease since 1968.
With telling evidence the author proves that stable families enhance the health of a society “by taking care of its children so the State doesn’t need to provide for them and pass that expense on to taxpayers.” She alludes to the “health advantage” that accrues to marital life and the sign of poor health that accompanies marital loss. A culture that cannot distinguish between health and disease can never recover sanity.
Liaugminas introduces terms like “triple parenting” and “artificial concept of parenthood” in the case of same-sex couples who require the service of a surrogate mother or father to contribute eggs or sperm — a practice that produces a phantasmagorical “new normal” in a social experiment that redefines marriage and makes a biological mother or father “optional.”

An Orwellian Universe

As these examples illustrate, to take one wrong road soon leads to other false directions until one enters a labyrinth and continues further into darkness with no end in sight.
The book quotes from an article that illustrates C.S. Lewis’ point that “every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork you must make a decision.”
According to the article, to change the definition of marriage “does not change one law, but hundreds, even thousands at once” — all laws pertaining to health insurance, employment benefits, taxation, adoption, and education.
Violating the dignity of marriage has other pernicious effects, for example, the idea that mothers and fathers are interchangeable, that “children do not need both a mother and a father,” and that “the main purpose of marriage is adult satisfaction” — not the best interest of the children. The deconstruction of marriage and the family does even more damage — the dilemma of human loneliness, the stark isolation of individuals who lack bonds of love and intimate relationships.
The violation of the sanctity of the conscience is another offense against human dignity with chilling prospects that prefigure an Orwellian universe. Whereas James Madison stated that “conscience is the most sacred of all property,” the HHS mandate of the Obama administration coerces Catholic institutions to pay for services deemed gravely evil and heinous sin by the Magisterium and ignores the First Amendment that enshrines religious liberty.
A federal government that currently spends millions of dollars in Title X family planning programs and then commands taxpayers to fund these practices, in effect, makes the free exercise of religion impossible.
Once government wantonly ignores the dictates of conscience, man becomes the creature of the State. As Pope Benedict stated: “The destruction of the conscience is the real prerequisite for totalitarian followers and totalitarian rule.” In the words of Cardinal George, “The State becomes a church.”
Nothing can come from nothing. If human beings have no dignity, if the elderly deserve no respect, if marriage is not sacred, and if conscience has no rights, then moral anarchy rules, and evil proliferates into monstrous shapes and uglier sins and more destructive wars upon larger members of the human race.
There is no end to this descent into the dark labyrinth of the netherworld except to retrace the steps, go back to the beginning, and find the road back to the “Non-Negotiable” essential principles of civilization that begin with man as created in God’s image, of infinite worth, and of inviolable dignity.
For anyone with clear eyes, a mind that desires to know, a love of justice, intellectual honesty, and the willingness to think logically and follow the consequences of ideas to their logical conclusions, this book illustrates the art of thinking at its best.

+    +    +

(Dr. Kalpakgian is a professor of humanities.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Angola: Catholic Priest Refutes Criticism of Church Practices

Lubango — The Southern Huila province?s Lubango city emeritus archbishop, Zacarias Kamwenho, rejected as false the claim that Catholic Christians worship images. Speaking on Sunday in the Muxima Diocese, in Lubango, the archbishop explained that Catholic Christians worship God instead,…Continue Reading

Ave Maria School of Law Wins Its HHS Mandate Case in Federal Court

The Obama Administration has suffered another defeat in its quest to force Catholics and people of faith to pay for abortion-causing drugs, as required by the HHS Mandate. Today the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida came down…Continue Reading

Catholic Educators Appeal to Obama Administration for Relief from HHS Mandate

Today a coalition including The Cardinal Newman Society, leaders of Catholic schools and colleges, and the expert attorneys of the Alliance Defending Freedom told the Obama administration that its latest rule mandating insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including abortion-causing…Continue Reading

Toronto schools hosting ‘LGBTQ’ conference for students as young as 11

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is hosting three student conferences within the span of eight days for the purpose of LGBTQ activism.  The conferences, which have been organized in collaboration with Jer’s Vision, will take place on October 28,…Continue Reading

The Synod and the Media: Culpable Naïveté or Shrewd Calculation?

Upon becoming director of media relations for the American bishops in late 1969, I quickly made a crucial discovery about my new employers. With just a handful of exceptions, the bishops were painfully naïve about the news business, yet convinced…Continue Reading

Chaldean Catholic patriarch suspends 10 priests, including 1 from El Cajon

SAN DIEGO – The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church has suspended 10 priests, including one from El Cajon. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako issued a decree a month ago, demanding the priests return to Iraq or be suspended. Wednesday…Continue Reading

Retired Pope Says Interreligious Dialogue No Substitute For Mission

VATICAN CITY – Retired Pope Benedict XVI said dialogue with other religions is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures, and warned against relativistic ideas of religious truth as “lethal to faith.” He also said the true motivation…Continue Reading

California Forces Churches to Directly Fund Abortions, Churches Refuse to Comply

To the dismay of California’s people of faith, the California Department of Managed Health Care has reclassified abortion as a “basic health service” under the Affordable Care Act and ordered all insurance plans in the state to begin covering surgical…Continue Reading

Relax. God’s Still In Charge.

It’s an enormous challenge to maintain pristine doctrinal purity while at the same time respond to the experiential, personal, and difficult needs of married couples and families. Behind every arcane discussion of gradualism and natural law there are parents and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: The “Relatio Synodi” Is “A Significant Improvement Over The Text Of The ‘Relatio Post Disceptationem'”

In a third short interview with CWR, conducted by e-mail late yesterday, Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, offers his impression of the Relatio Synodi, comments on reports that the Synod has…Continue Reading

Synod Final Document Reaffirms Church Teaching

The final document of the Extraordinary Synod was released Saturday as the Synod Fathers voted to approve all 62 paragraphs, but with three paragraphs not receiving the normally required two-thirds majority vote. The three paragraphs, which in the past would…Continue Reading

Catholic Synod: Gay Rights Groups ‘Disappointed’

Catholic gay rights groups say they are disappointed after bishops rejected proposals for wider acceptance of gay people, which had the Pope’s backing. The call to “accept and value” homosexuals was in a draft report, but failed to win the…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Today . . .

Pope At Mass: Christian Life Is A Continuous Battle Against The Devil

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis described Christian life as a continuous battle being waged against Satan, the world and the passions of the flesh. His comments came during his homily at Mass celebrated on Thursday morning at the Santa Marta residence. He stressed that the devil exists and we must fight against him with the armour of truth. Pope Francis’s reflections…Continue Reading

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Writes Personal Ordinariate Of Our Lady Of Walsingham

ben1

(Vatican Radio) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has sent a message to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was established for former Anglicans in England in 2011.  The message was on the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict’s apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which was released on November 4th 2009. The Pope Emeritus was responding to a letter he received…Continue Reading

Pope At Audience: The Church Visible And Spiritual

pope650

(Vatican Radio)  “Often, we hear people say: the Church doesn’t do this …the Church doesn’t do that!’ ‘Tell me who is the Church? – ‘Well the Church is the priests, the bishops, the Pope …’ We are all the Church! All of us all of us Baptized! We are the Church, the Church of Jesus’”. This was the message at…Continue Reading

Pope At Angelus: Love Of God And Neighbour Are Inseparable

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St Peter’s Square beneath the window of the Papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican on Sunday. In remarks ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father offered some reflections on the Gospel reading of the day, which was taken from Gospel…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “Does Contraception Lead To Abortion?”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 21 of The Facts of Life, “Contraception,” e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have seen that contraception fails frequently and so often leads to abortion.…Continue Reading

Pass-Fail Grading: For The Professors’ Benefit?

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK S.M. writes to offer some observations about the proposal to introduce a “pass-fail” grading system for freshmen at Princeton University. The possibility of doing that was discussed in the October 9 edition of First Teachers. He sees the idea as a “form of grade inflation that is solely intended to accomplish…Continue Reading

Contemporary Culture Encapsulated In A Single Sentence

By DONALD DeMARCO It is remarkable how much a single sentence can reveal about the temper of a culture, even when its author is trying to be withholding. Jacalyn Duffin, a historian and practicing hematologist, is the author of History of Medicine (University of Toronto Press, 2000). It is a 243-page tome that was produced…Continue Reading

Synod Document Of October 13, 2014

By JOHN F. KIPPLEY (Editor’s Note: John F. Kippley is the author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality and other books and articles. With his wife Sheila, he is a coauthor of Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach and cofounder of NFP International. This commentary appeared on his blog [johnkippley.com] of…Continue Reading

Elite Judges Think The Highest Judge Never Will End Their Misrule

By DEXTER DUGGAN Today people worry about globe-trotting terrorists, the transmission of the deadly Ebola virus, and the way contagions can cross borders when the government insists borders must be open for everyone’s alleged benefit. Meanwhile, unaccountable U.S. judges continue their contagion of immorality, as if God’s judgment never will come, maybe in little germs,…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Regarding our recent column on advanced medical directives and particularly the Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST), A.M.V. of Florida writes to say that the American Life League provides individuals with a document called the “Loving Will,” which corresponds to Catholic teaching. She said that this document was “crucial with my mom’s situation” when she was admitted…Continue Reading

Temples Of The Holy Spirit

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Feast Of The Dedication Of St. John Lateran In Rome Readings: Ezek. 47:1-2, 8-9, 12 1 Cor. 3:9c-11, 16-17 John 2:13-22 Today we celebrate the feast of the dedication of a church building that many people have never heard of and also have no idea of its significance. In Rome, there are four major basilicas; the…Continue Reading

Message Of The Extraordinary Synod Of Bishops . . . We Ask You To Walk With Us Toward The Next Synod

(Editor’s Note: Below is the text of the concluding message of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, held October 5-19. This message was released on October 18. (See Fr. Kevin M. Cusick’s column in this issue, p. 2B, and the front page for reporting and commentary on the separate final document of the Extraordinary Synod.) + + +…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Redefining Marriage: Not About The Kids And The Picket Fence

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Following the Extraordinary Synod and the rollback on confusing language about same-sex attraction and the divorced and remarried in the final version of the Relatio Synodi document, the predictable reactions are coming in. Those who continue to hold Church teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman are labeled as “bigots,” while…Continue Reading

Debunking The Sola Scriptura Myth… True Tradition And False “Tradition”

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 4 A classical objection: What Catholics call the “Apostolic Tradition” is just a human tradition, which Jesus clearly condemned in the Gospel, when He said to the Pharisees, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?…So, for the sake of your tradition you have made void the…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Wolfgang

By CAROLE BRESLIN October 31 has come to be yet another Christian holy day corrupted by our secular society. All Hallows Eve, Halloween, is now celebrated with emphasis on evil and horror. Corn mazes with frightening objects around the corner, haunted houses to terrify even the bravest of persons, glorification of vampires, and decorations of death and witches — these…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Anthony Mary Claret

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Anthony Mary Claret has something in common with at least three other saints. Like St. Peter Claver, he was born in northeastern Spain — over 200 years later. Like St. Pio of Pietrelcina, when he heard Confessions, he frequently could read the souls of the penitents, asking them about a sin that they had not confessed.…Continue Reading

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading