Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Giving up Blogging for Lent

An interesting discussion has started up here and here about the virtue of giving up blogging for Lent. Certainly, a certain amount of satisfaction comes from shooting my mouth off now and then, even when I fail to first load my brain. Perhaps depriving myself of such an outlet would indeed be an appropriate Lenten sacrifice?

Done, then! I will immerse myself in Lenten reading and my ongoing independent study of Ecclesiastical Latin, in lieu of blogging.

And as they say this Ash Wednesday, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return."

Till Easter folks.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Flipside of the Autism Breakthrough

Perhaps I am the only one, but I greeted the recent breakthrough in autism research with more than just a little trepidation. My concern, located in the bottom paragraphs after the turn, relates directly to the following snip:
Every week parents of autistic children ask Wendy Roberts, a developmental pediatrician and co-director of the autism research unit at Sick Kids, whether there are prenatal tests to screen for autism. “At this point, we say that we can’t.” The study won’t have any immediate impact on clinical practice, said Roberts, a co-author of the study. It will take time to design a prenatal test for autism, precisely because there are so many genes involved.

Now, you ask, of what possible value could a prenatal test for autism be? To treat it in the womb with some kind of as yet undiscovered gene therapy? Not likely. No, the purpose of prenatal testing for autism would be exactly the same as the reasons behind prenatal testing for cystic fibrosis and Downs Syndrome – to allow the parents to abort the baby and save themselves from a lifetime of having to care for a special needs child. That this so-called "breakthrough" will lead to a cure for autism is probably true enough – but only if you think you ought to cure a disease by killing everyone who has it.

I recall my wife being told to go for an
amniocentesis during her pregnancy and upon being told why (her age and the risk of birth defects) we asked what good the information would do – and were told it would allow us to terminate the pregnancy. We looked our doctor right in the eye and told her that we weren’t terminating anything, and where she could stick her needle. You should have seen the look, as if to say "What do you mean you wouldn’t abort a Downs Syndrome child?" All through the pregnancy we constantly had to explain to various medical professionals that the reason the amnio test wasn’t in our file was because we refused to allow one to be done.

Our child, thankfully, is fine. I say thankfully, not because we would not have loved a disabled child, but because we wanted a healthy, happy baby just like every other parent. And what of those parents of autistic children? Would they turn back the clock if they could and abort their child? Their answers are, emphatically, "No."

So, yes, all hail the god of science, but pardon me for not jumping on the eugenics bandwagon to Hell. Call me a simple minded Catholic, but that’s how I feel.

Cure autism? Good. Aborting autistic children? Bad.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Catholic Blog Awards 2007

Well the Catholic Blog Awards are underway again and I would like you to, not me actually. My blog is too Mickey Mouse - 30 hits a day, etc. Or, as Kathy Shaidle has been known to say, "There are blogs, and then there are blogs. I'm just sayin."

Or something like that.

Anyway, just do as I did and stop by and nominate a whole bunch of truly worthy blogs. If you need a list, may I humbly suggest to look to my sidebar. They are all worthy.


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Woodcut Defence League vs. Warren Kinsella

Warren Kinsella had gone too far. His vicious attack on Norm Spector (to wit: that he "has a web site that resembles a fourteenth-century woodcut, and has the mental acuity of one, too.") is an insult. To woodcuts.

First of all,
woodcuts were used in the 15th and 16th centuries, not the 14th. Secondly, they represent an outstanding contribution to literary art and were used extensively to illustrate the connection between the intangible supernatural and the liturgy of the Christian faith. Woodcuts were used throughout the Missale Romanum, the book used by priests for centuries to celebrate the Mass.

About Woodcuts:
The process of creating a woodcut has changed little over the intervening six centuries. Although the quality and shape of the knives used today are somewhat different, the action of making a woodblock is essentially the same.

Choosing wood for the block is the first step in creating a woodcut. In the fifteenth century wood from fruit trees, especially pear trees, was used because of the strength of the wood's grain. These hardwoods could withstand the pressure the printing press exerted on the block and insured that the woodblock could be used repeatedly. Hundreds of legible images could be produced before a new block had to be cut.

Once the block is planed and sanded flat, an image is either drawn directly onto the surface of the block or transferred from another drawing or print. The woodcut artist then uses the lines of the block as a guide, cutting away all the wood that surrounds the lines and leaving the lines in relief. The woodblock is then set onto the bed of a printing press along with type, and ink is applied to the lines on the block and the type. Finally paper is set on top of the block and the action of the printing press forces a transfer of ink to paper, revealing an image which is the reverse of the image on the block. The areas that have been cut away read white, and the lines in relief read black.

Given the obvious contribution of woodcuts in the development of printing throughout the ages, and their pivotal role in the beauty of the Catholic liturgy, I must insist that Warren Kinsella cease and desist immediately his continued defamation of woodcuts by associating them with something
so obviously trailing edge as Norm Spector’s website.