July 2009

A reflection on the summer of 1969.

The arrant thief, giver of memories by Father Z


I’ve been watching a show on the History Channel about the Presidents, and just finished the segment on Washington.  Wow, what a man!

He was a man’s man.  War hero, the best horseman in the country (according to Thomas Jefferson), loved to gamble, and produced whisky (in 1798, Mt.Vernon produced 11,000 gallons, making Washington the single largest distiller of alcohol in America!).

But he was also a supporter of the arts and an accomplished dancer.  Martha Washington was one lucky gal.

Not to mention he was politically savvy and put together the greatest Cabinet the country has ever known.

He defined the presidency as he shaped this country.  I had a constitutional law professor who did not bother hiding his love and admiration for our first president, and he first introduced me to the real Washington.  Someone who was much more than that profile on our quarter.

If a man less virtuous than Washington would have been in his position, this country would be a very different place.

God bless President Washington.  May we look to his wisdom and guidance.

There’s been some discussion over the last few days of Dr Regina Benjamin’s nomination as Surgeon General. When I first heard the news, I wasn’t surprised that President Obama nominated a Roman Catholic– a quick glance to his appointments will show you that he favors us. I wonder why no one is up-in-arms about such preferential treatment? haha.

But I was skeptical that she could be pro-life. Unless President Obama had a conversion on the plane to Ghana, which I wasn’t willing to doubt completely (I know what the presence of the successor of Peter does to someone) but wasn’t quick to assume, I couldn’t imagine him nominating a staunchly pro-life person to any leadership position in the Department of Health and Human Services.

And while the past few days haven’t proven that Benjamin is staunchly pro-choice, they haven’t proven her as staunchly pro-life, either. And in this administration, a lukewarm prolifer isn’t getting anywhere.
While I don’t expect a witch-hunt to track down every statement she’s ever made about a “woman’s right to choose,” to determine her views, I think if she had pro-life beliefs, they would have come to the forefront already.

Let’s face it. If she is a Catholic who is going to make a difference in the workings of this administration, she’s going to have to be more than personally-prolife… she’s going to have to be staunchly prolife. If Benjamin has prolife views herself, but chooses not to act on them in the public realm, her coworkers, who don’t share the same reluctance to push their personal views on the public, will walk all over her.

And if she is willing to force a pro-choice agenda on America, well, she’ll join the ranks of the other “Catholics” in the administration.

Time will tell!

Good news from Music City!  God bless Becca and her courageous parents!

July 13, 2009

13 ounces at birth, Becca is Tennessee’s tiniest baby to survive

By Claudia Pinto

At birth, Becca Hill weighed just 13 ounces. That’s as much as a medium-sized apple, three and a half chocolate bars or a can of Coke.

No one was expecting Becca — who was born 12 weeks early at Vanderbilt children’s hospital — to live. She was simply too little; she was born too soon.

But the feisty baby proved them all wrong. Becca recently celebrated her first birthday, making the now-13-pound little girl the tiniest baby born in Tennessee to survive.

“A year ago, I was lying on the operating table, hoping against hope that she would breathe a little bit and that we could hold her and that she wouldn’t be stillborn,” said Nancy Hill, Becca’s mother. “And now here she is causing all kinds of trouble.”

Preterm birth — babies born before 37 weeks of pregnancy — is the leading cause of infant death in Tennessee, followed by congenital birth defects and sudden infant death syndrome.

The mortality rate for premature babies is 44 deaths per every 1,000 live births, compared with 3.2 per 1,000 for full-term babies, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. Nearly 12,000 babies are born too early each year in the state.

Hill, of Bethpage, was 17 weeks pregnant when she found out that her baby wasn’t growing properly.

“She was two weeks behind, size-wise. The doctor said, ‘We need to be prepared to lose this baby,’ ” she said. “It was terrible and horrible. We are both realistic and trust the expertise of the doctors, but we couldn’t give up on her.”

The culprit is known as “placental insufficiency,” meaning that the placenta wasn’t supplying Becca with the proper nutrients, oxygen and blood that she needed to grow.

Dr. Joern-Hendrik Weitkamp, a Vanderbilt neonatologist and assistant professor of pediatrics, said it’s not entirely understood why the placenta was malfunctioning, but Hill was experiencing high blood pressure, which may have been a factor.

Hill and her husband, John, are both ministers at Bethpage United Methodist Church. Their faith helped them hold on to hope that their baby would make it.

“It helped just knowing never to give up; something amazing and miraculous could always happen,” John Hill said. “We had people all over the country praying for her. I have to believe that made a difference.”

‘A very cute alien’

Vanderbilt doctors were forced to perform an emergency delivery on June 21 of last year because Nancy Hill developed HELLP syndrome, a complication that occurs among pregnant women with high blood pressure that can result in seizures and even death for the mother.

Nancy Hill pleaded with doctors to let her stay awake during the C-section.

“We were anticipating that she wouldn’t live very long,” she said. “I said even if it’s just two or three minutes, I want those two or three minutes with my baby. I don’t want to wake up and find out she’s already died.”

One of the biggest concerns Weitkamp had about keeping Becca alive after delivery was that the life-saving equipment would be too large to use on her.

“Her lungs weren’t mature enough for her to breathe on her own, but we weren’t sure that there was a breathing tube that would be small enough for her,” Weitkamp said.

Fortunately, there was. In addition to a ventilator to help her breathe, Becca was dependent on an incubator to keep warm, feeding tubes to ensure she received sufficient nutrients. She also needed antibiotics and anti-fungal medication to prevent infection.

John Hill will never forget seeing his daughter after she was born: “They told me I could touch her,” he said. “I was so afraid I was going to hurt her, just by touching her with my finger.”

Becca was so small that she didn’t even look like a baby, her father said. Her head was abnormally large compared to her stick-like limbs.

And her liver was visible through her thin skin.

“(She looked) kind of like an alien,” John Hill said.

“A very cute alien,” Nancy Hill interjected.

Few health issues today

Despite the baby’s teeny size, Nancy Hill said that when she saw her baby in the NICU the day after she was born, she knew she would make it.

“They said she wouldn’t have the muscle tone to move around,” she said. “She was feisty. She was moving all around.”

And Nancy Hill said that even though Becca’s lungs weren’t developed enough for her to cry, she was trying.

“It sounded like a little kitten to me,” she said. “Now when she cries in the middle of church it doesn’t bother me.”

It was a month before Becca’s parents were able to hold her and four months before they were able to take her home from the hospital. The total cost of her care was roughly $1 million.

“If we hadn’t had health insurance and she didn’t qualify for TennCare (the state’s insurance program for the poor and disabled) we would never be able to pay these bills off,” Nancy Hill said.

Weitkamp said what’s most miraculous to him is not that Becca survived, but the fact that she has so few health issues.

Of course, Becca will probably always be smaller than her peers. At a year old, she’s the size of typical 3-month-old. And because she was born prematurely she’s at risk for developmental delays and other health problems, such as diabetes, later in life.

Still, Becca is now sitting up on her own. She’s 16 times her birth weight. And her parents say she’s a bundle of happiness.

The toddler has learned to kiss, but “she doesn’t actually kiss you,” her father said. “She just kisses the air.”

And, “when you go to tickle her, she starts laughing before your fingers even touch her,” her mother said. “She’s just a joy.”

My mom and I were watching the ordination and installation of Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, OP, former theologian to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, professor at the Dominican House of Studies in DC, and aide to the former Cardinal Ratzinger at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.  The Archbishop is now secretary [read: second-in-command] of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in the Vatican.

It is an enormous honor for an American, and a fellow American came back to the nation’s capital to ordain him, namely, Cardinal Levada, prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

While watching the Mass, Mom made the curious comment that the new Archbishop looked “scared.”  As I watched, I had to agree.  He didn’t look particularly happy at this pivotal moment in his life.

I don’t know him, so perhaps it is his nature to look subdued and austere.  Or, as Mom and I speculated (as we are wont to do), perhaps he realizes that this is his Wedding Feast of Cana moment.

Who knows what lies ahead of him.  While he has played an important role in the Church for the last decade, this appointment is the most significant.  Will he ever return to America?  Where will he go from here?  Could he replace Cardinal Levada at the CDF?  Will he be present at the next conclave?  Whatever his role may be over the several decades, his cross is only getting heavier and his life is becoming less his own.

And while we can only speculate, it is important to remember to pray for these men, our leaders and fathers.  As Archbishop Di Noia had a chance to speak at the end of Mass, he took the time to thank God.  He spoke very briefly, and there was no joking, no telling stories of his own life, no recognizing people in the congregation.

He reminded the people present that at moments like this, “there is a temptation … to congratulate ourselves.  But the glory is to God alone.”   After thanking God for the pontificate of Pope Benedict, he prayed for the Pope, saying, “May this feast of his patron, St Benedict, give him grace and the joy that comes from serving Christ faithfully.”

He thanked God for the ministry of the Cardinals present, and he thanked God for the Dominican Order.  He glorified God, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

And that was it.  Words from a man who knows his life is Christ’s.   His Wedding Feast of Cana moment– a time of great joy and privilege, a pivotal moment– but the shoulders can already feel the cross.

Pray for these men!

I’m glad I work in an environment where I know people like Justice Ginsburg aren’t the voice of reason.  I’m glad I surround myself with role models, friends, and resources to know that this does not have to be the direction women are headed.  Thank God we have women like Mary Ann Glendon to look up to these days.  Mary Ann Glendon for Supreme Court Justice ’13.

Emily Bazelon, New York Post: Since we are talking about abortion, I want to ask you about Gonzales v. Carhart, the case in which the court upheld a law banning so-called partial-birth abortion. Justice Kennedy in his opinion for the majority characterized women as regretting the choice to have an abortion, and then talked about how they need to be shielded from knowing the specifics of what they’d done. You wrote, “This way of thinking reflects ancient notions about women’s place in the family and under the Constitution.” I wondered if this was an example of the court not quite making the turn to seeing women as fully autonomous.

JUSTICE GINSBURG: The poor little woman, to regret the choice that she made. Unfortunately there is something of that in Roe. It’s not about the women alone. It’s the women in consultation with her doctor. So the view you get is the tall doctor and the little woman who needs him.

Just reading that makes me feel dirty.  The lengths the feminists (who discredit the word feminine) go to protect their holy sacrament of abortion, they drag even their own gender into the mud.  With this comment, Justice Ginsburg– in a pathetic attempt to show how strong women are and how we don’t need men– has hurt and offended every woman out there who is suffering tremendously from her choice to abort her child.  Has Justice Ginsburg looked into the eyes of a woman who has contemplated suicide, who wakes up in the middle of the night after dreaming about her child, who finds herself infertile because of her abortion, who struggles daily with depression?  Is she willing to help those women?  Because they’re out there.  And comments like this show how out-of-touch modern “feminism” is with the world.

I don’t even want to touch her other comment, and it’s lighting up blogs like mad this afternoon, so I almost don’t have to… but here it is:

Q: If you were a lawyer again, what would you want to accomplish as a future feminist legal agenda?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious. The states that had changed their abortion laws before Roe [to make abortion legal] are not going to change back. So we have a policy that affects only poor women, and it can never be otherwise, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been said more often.

Q: Are you talking about the distances women have to travel because in parts of the country, abortion is essentially unavailable, because there are so few doctors and clinics that do the procedure? And also, the lack of Medicaid for abortions for poor women?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae — in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.  So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong.

First off, her perception was not wrong.  There’s plenty of proof out there that Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood pushed contraception and then abortion to rid the world of “populations that [they] don’t want to have too many of.”  And there’s plenty of proof that it’s still happening today.  Black genocide within the doors of your local Planned Parenthood.  [For more information, head over here.]

There are discussions being held throughout the blogosphere as to her opinion of the “populations that we don’t want to have to many of” … was she in favor of abortion being used this way?  Or was she worried it would be used that way? [and should we be worried that she voted for Roe v. Wade even with the perception that it was paving the way to eugenics?]

Regardless, it’s being used that way.  And always was.  Again, if you haven’t heard of maafa 21, head over here for an eye-opening look at black genocide.

And if you can bear the whole interview with Justice Ginsburg, head over here to the New York Post.

One last nugget from the interview– Ginsburg affirms that the right to abortion is rooted in the constitutional promise of sex equality. [did I miss that phrase in the bill of rights?  ah, the penumbra keeps growing, doesn’t it?]

I suppose because the gift of life is unique ours as “woman,” so we must rid ourselves of that gift.   Woman is a dirty word to feminists.

Take your pick, ladies.


I had visitors this weekend, and after a great lunch at a Nashville landmark, the San Antonio Taco Company, a few of the girls wanted to get ice cream next door.

While I waited for them to get their Ben and Jerry’s, I read the “mission statement” on the wall.  This was part of it:

“Capitalism and the wealth it produces do not create opportunity for everyone equally. We recognize that the gap between the rich and the poor is wider than at any time since the 1920’s. We strive to create economic opportunities for those who have been denied them and to advance new models of economic justice that are sustainable and replicable.”

It was ironic, then, when I turned around and saw that my friend had just paid $5 for a small cup of ice cream, and that the pints in the freezer section cost three times what they would have cost in the grocery store.

Go fig.

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