Tuesday 30th September 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:

On the Way to a Troubled Synod

synod

Cardinal Newman once remarked that anyone boarding the Barque of Peter shouldn’t look too closely at the engine room. Sometimes when there are storms brewing in the Vatican – as there are right now over the Synod on the Family…Continue Reading

Liberalism, Choice and Compulsion

Social liberals consider traditional moral restrictions cruel in their very essence. Each of us, they believe, should be as free as possible to pursue his happiness as he sees it, consistent with the equal ability of others to do the…Continue Reading

Vatican says bishop’s dismissal not the result of sex abuse

By Francis X. Rocca Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican denied Pope Francis had dismissed a controversial Paraguayan bishop because of his mishandling of sex abuse accusations, attributing the decision instead to other failings of governance and…Continue Reading

Padre Pio Was The Opposite Of A Fan-hugging, Autograph-signing Celebrity

Brusque to the point of being rude’, the Italian saint was only interested in one personality – the Son of God By FR ALEXANDER LUCIE-SMITH on Friday, 26 September 2014 There is a somewhat strange passage of scripture which by…Continue Reading

Music Director Hasn’t Resigned Despite Archbishop’s Request

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) – On Sept. 12, Jamie Manzi-Moore was asked by Archbishop John Nienstedt to resign from the church where he has served as music director for more than 17 years — but he hasn’t done it yet.…Continue Reading

“The Teachings Of The Church Must Be Upheld.”

Minnesota Archbishop Backs Removing Gay Liturgist Who Married Partner LifeSiteNews reported Thursday that Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis backed the removal of parish liturgist Jamie Moore after “marrying” his partner on September 20 in strict violation of the Catholic…Continue Reading

State Medical Board Lets Clinic Get Away With Killing Woman in Botched Abortion

The State Medical Board of Ohio has stunned pro-life supporters by dropping all complaints related to the death of abortion patient Lakisha Wilson. Those who filed complaints seeking an investigation into Wilson’s death at Preterm, a Cleveland abortion facility, have…Continue Reading

Former Crystal Cathedral Undergoing Catholic Makeover

(CNA/EWTN News) – “Through this innovative design process an insightful plan has emerged that will establish Christ Cathedral as a place for involvement in the sacraments, a place to hear the Word of God proclaimed and a place for personal…Continue Reading

True Mercy and the Indissolubility of Marriage

September 25, 2014 In his foreword to a new book, Cardinal George Pell argues that “one cannot maintain the indissolubility of marriage by allowing the ‘remarried’ to receive Holy Communion.” Cardinal George Pell The following appears as the foreword to…Continue Reading

Professor Douglas Kries on Cupich

Well, this is interesting.  Professor Douglas Kries at Gonzaga University in Spokane gives his assessment of Bishop Blase Cupich, the Spokane Bishop tapped to head the Chicago Archdiocese: Bishop White Seminary at Gonzaga, which was nothing short of an extraordinary…Continue Reading

GATES-FUNDED GROUP PUSHES COMMON CORE ON CATHOLIC SCHOOLS, TARGETS CARDINAL NEWMAN SOCIETY

A group funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been contacting Catholic school leaders, urging support for the Common Core standards and asking them to oppose the Cardinal Newman Society’s “Catholic Is Our Core” initiative. According to the…Continue Reading

Will Catholic bishops annul Pope Francis’ marriage reform initiative?

VATICAN CITY ( RNS) Pope Francis has appointed a special commission to look at ways to make it easier for Roman Catholics to dissolve their marriages in the eyes of the church. The goal of the 11-member commission announced Saturday…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 Santa Marta: The Angels Defend Us

pope532

(Vatican Radio) The angels battle Satan for the destiny of mankind and win.  They defend and custody  the greatest mystery of the Church, God-made-Man.  Even though in Satan often presents “humanistic explanations” for his attacks on mankind.  This was the focus of Pope Francis homily at Mass Monday morning at Casa Santa Marta, marking the Feast of the Holy Archangels…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Synod Prayer To Holy Family

pope531

      _________________(Vatican Radio) Sunday, 28 September is to be set aside as a Day of Prayer for the III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, scheduled to take place from 5 to 219 October to treat the topic: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization. The Holy See on Saturday released a prayer guide,…Continue Reading

Mistakes Of The Past Are Back

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO What if the American invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction? What if whatever weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein once had were sold to him in the 1980s by American arms dealers with the express permission of the U.S. government? What if he no longer…Continue Reading

Is Burger King An Economic Patriot?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.” Jefferson’s brutal verdict comes to mind in the fierce debate over inversions, those decisions by U.S. companies to buy foreign firms to move their headquarters abroad…Continue Reading

How The Eastern Orthodox Misunderstand Catholic Marian Doctrine

By JAMES LIKOUDIS It is not only Protestants who seriously misunderstand the Marian doctrines of the Catholic Church. Surprisingly, various Eastern Orthodox who have traditionally manifested a deep and devout veneration of the Theotokos (Mother of God) are seen to deviate from their own ancient traditions. Thus one finds astonishing the views of Archbishop John…Continue Reading

Where Do We Begin?

By DONALD DeMARCO It often happens that the statement of a perceptive writer becomes more true many years after he originally framed it. Such is the case with George Orwell. The author of 1984, which he penned in 1948, stated: “We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the…Continue Reading

Reconnecting With Mary… Our Lady Of La Salette

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Part 2 The previous article detailed how our Lady appeared to Maximin Giraud and Mélanie Mathieu on Saturday, September 19, and now we can see what happened to them afterward. It was only when the Blessed Virgin had disappeared that the children fully realized that the Lady they had seen was…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . God Does Not Come Through The Computer

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Virtual reality can never serve as “parish replacement therapy” for “Catholics on leave.” Many believers remain alienated as a result of personal choices from the life of the Church. Some of them have been known to post about their frustrations on Facebook, writing such things as, “Continue to wait for answers…” God, however, does not…Continue Reading

Priestly Celibacy: Unnatural? Or…Supernatural? The Biblical Foundations Of Celibacy: Summing Up

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 6 MThe Catholic priesthood is God’s holy calling (2 Tim. 1:5-9) to some men to follow Jesus’ footsteps more closely (St. Augustine). The priest is called to be an angel of the Lord, always keeping His Law in his mouth (Mal. 2:7). A truly celibate priest is one who is a real man, who…Continue Reading

Catechism Of the Catholic Church: Prologue

By Don Fier “Father, . . . this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). This Scripture verse, the opening words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), succinctly and beautifully expresses its very purpose. The CCC’s first paragraph goes on to expand on…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. What do you know about the Concordant Literal Version of the Bible? — G.P., Florida. A. It is published by the Concordant Publishing Concern in Almont, Mich., which describes itself as “a nondenominational, nonprofit association founded in 1909 for the purpose of disseminating the facts and truths of the ancient manuscripts of the Scriptures.” The company’s website says that…Continue Reading

Bearing Great Fruit

BY FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Seventh Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Isaiah 5:1-7 Phil. 4:6-9 Matt. 21:33-43   In the first reading today we hear about God’s choice of Israel, and Jerusalem in particular, as the people from whom He expects great fruit to be produced. In the reading Israel is likened to a vineyard in which only the…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Therese of Lisieux, The Little Flower

By CAROLE BRESLIN As you drive into Lisieux, France, from Caen on highway D613, you can see clearly the Basilica of Lisieux — it dominates the landscape rising high above the hills and other buildings. A little to the north is the cathedral where Therese received her sacraments and where her family dedicated an altar. A little farther north is…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Saints Cosmas And Damian

By CAROLE BRESLIN In the last book of the Old Testament, 2 Maccabees, we read of the mother who stood by her seven sons, encouraging them to hold true to the law of their fathers and not give in to the attempts of Antiochus IV Epiphanes to get them to abandon their faith by eating the flesh of a swine…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading