Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
There has been a lot of quiet activity around the country around assisted suicide legislation. In Minnesota this past year, the "Minnesota Compassionate Care Act" was introduced (SF 1880) and given its first hearing in a committee; it is supposed to be the subject of "listening sessions" around the state over the summer. Similar legislation is being considered (and mostly rejected, so far) in many other states. Here's a helpful roundup of initiatives (complete with color-coded map) from "Death with Dignity National Center."
For a vivid description of some of the legislative tactics involved in past attempts to pass such legislation (California in 1999), see this Weekly Standard account of the reaction to an opposition coalition composed of "Disability-rights activists in wheel-chairs marched in solidarity with white medical professionals, alongside African-American clergy and advocates for the poor, next to Latino migrant farm workers and Catholics praying the rosary."
This Monday, a trial began in Dakota County, MN, on charges against Final Exit Network Inc, a Georgia nonprofit that provides assistance to people wanting to commit suicide, and its medical director. According to this newspaper story about the trial:
When an applicant meets the Final Exit Network’s criteria — which includes being mentally competent and suffering from “intolerable medical circumstances” like cancer or Lou Gehrig’s disease — the network assigns volunteer “Exit Guides” who provide information on ending one’s own life.
The network’s preferred method is helium asphyxiation using a plastic bag as a mask. Often, two Final Exit Network members are present and remove items the person used to take their life.
The article also reports that, so far, attempts to prosecute Final Exit Network activists in Georgia and Arizona have failed; their director's medical license was revoked in Maryland last year, for allegedly assisting in six suicides.
If you need any inspiration for speaking up against laws that would legalize the work of groups like Final Exit Network, take a look at this testimony by Stephen Mendelsohn in opposition to the Connecticut bill, and this page from my favorite disability activitist group, Not Dead Yet. I love the beginning of Mendelsohn's testimony:
Movements are known by their mottoes. The civil rights movement sang "We Shall Overcome." In the disability community, we have our own motto: "Nothing About Us Without Us." We. Us. Interdependence. Community.
The "right-to-die" movement, led by Compassion & Choices, has its motto. It can be seen on their green stickers, multiple Facebook pages, billboards and earlier this year in the Connecticut Capitol concourse: "My Life. My Death. My Choice." Me. Myself. I. The difference is revealing.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
If you're going to be in NYC on May 13, you might want to check out this exhibit of photography by Letizia Morinia, a 23 year old woman who, in the words of the promotional material, "happens to have Down Syndrome." It's sponsored by Communion & Liberation's Crossroads Cultural Center.
Here's a sample:
Here's the description of her work, an essay that is as beautiful as the photograph above:
What is striking about Letizia Morini’s art is the absolute value of the instant: the instant that would be inevitably fleeting if not for her camera caring enough to grab it, to “infinitize” it (in Montale’s words).
In the instant, her care, her attention move to what is small, seemingly insignificant; that which we, too busy hastily living out our “rabid days devoid of acts of love” (to quote the Italian singer/songwriter De Farbizio De Andrè), would have never deemed worthy not even of a glance. Letizia instead forces us to stop, to ‘alter time’; she uses her camera to enhance reality, to ‘reveal’ it.
Hers is a wise photography, shutter clicks never improvised but instead the fruit of a dogged passion for the thing in and of itself, a passion which becomes contagious, which by osmosis transmits itself to the eyes of the observer, wounding the heart.
Everything becomes big, absolute: A tin case of sardines is transformed into a lunar landscape; an insignificant concrete block becomes a sort of Aztec pyramid; a disarming piece of paper is a metaphor for our fragility, ruffled by uneasiness. Everything— all the possible feelings which comprise the human palette—the heart wrenching sweetness which seeps out of her portraits of children, the ferocity of a muzzle or of butchered animal carcasses, the dreamy gaze at the sky or the flowers.
Everything, Letizia tells us, is keeping a secret; everything can reveal something. Photography represents that very possibility. “You realize that in silences / things yield and almost betray / their ultimate secrets. / At times, one half expects / to discover an error in Nature, / the still point of reality, / the missing link that will not hold, / the thread we cannot untangle / in order to get at the truth.” (Eugenio Montale, The Lemon Trees).
Letizia’s pictures, however, impose a condition to those who truly want to know them: abandon. She wants to take us by the hand and help us discover that everything can be for us, forever.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Rick's tour de force in summarizing the presentations at Friday's Scarpa Conference at Villanova conveys a sense of why we are all so grateful to Patrick Brennan for bringing us together. However, he stopped blogging too soon. The most dramatic event was the dinner afterwards, when Patrick and John Breen almost came to fisticuffs over whether Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisted, or Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory, is the quintessential Catholic novel. (Susan Stabile tried to broker a compromise with Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamozov, but she didn't make much headway.)
So we're suggesting a virtual summer book club. Some of us may read, or re-read, (or watch the movie versions of) any or all of those three books over the summer, and post our thoughts. The winner (if one emerges) will get to hear Michael Scaperlanda's defense of Godfather III as the best of the Godfather movies......
Friday, March 20, 2015
Friday, February 6, 2015
The Murphy Institute has posted on line videos of two recent programs that might make great resources for anyone who might want to inject some Catholic perspectives into a class on the topics of just wage, family leave policies, or the role of amicus briefs at the Supreme Court. As an added bonus, two of the speakers are MOJ'ers.
One is a program in the Murphy Institute's "Hot Topics: Cool Talk" series: Just Wages: Catholic Social Thought and Economic Perspectives. It features MOJ'er Susan Stabile and David O. Vang, UST professor of Finance, both applying Catholic social teachings to policy questions like raising the minimum wage, and both coming up with different prudential conclusions.
The second is a panel on the Young v. UPS case recently argued in front of the Supreme Court, in which a part-time UPS driver challenged UPS's refusal to accommodate the lifting restrictions her doctor recommended during her pregnancy, claiming a violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. The panelists include two UST School of Law professors, MOJ'er Thomas Berg and Teresa Collett, who served as counsel on an amicus brief filed for the case in support of Peggy Young, by a large coalition of pro-life groups. The other panelists were Sara Gross-Methner, UST's General Counsel, and Melissa Raphan, Labor and Employment Department Head of the law firm of Dorsey & Whitney.
Both of these programs offer sophisticated, nuanced discussions of the issues at stake, and could be valuable supplements to courses touching on these topics.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
The University of St. Thomas is searching for a Director for its Center for Catholic Studies, which, among many other wonderful things, is the co-sponsor (along with UST Law School) of the Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy (which I co-direct). Here's the description of the enterprise of the Department & Center for Catholic Studies, from the job posting:
The Department and the Center for Catholic Studies comprise an integrated project at St. Thomas. While the Department focuses principally on degree-granting activities, the Center oversees the work of three major institutes and a quarterly journal. It also sponsors multiple lectures and faculty development programs. The director of the Center will be responsible for coordinating the work of these institutes as well as other forms of outreach within the university and the broader community. This will include work with benefactors and other development activities.
The Department offers an undergraduate major and minor as well as a graduate degree (M.A.) in Catholic Studies. In our teaching and scholarship, we are committed to the complementarity of faith and reason across all academic disciplines, to sustaining and developing the richness and breadth of the Catholic intellectual tradition, and to the general principles articulated in Ex corde ecclesiae. We seek candidates who share these commitments.
More details here.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Today is the first feast day of one of our newest saints, St. John Paul II. (And, in a happy coincidence, the wedding anniversary of not one, but two MOJ'ers: me and Rick Garnett.)
To celebrate, here are some relevant links:
- to the prayer to St. John Paul II issued by the Vatican at his canonization,
- to a number of past posts on his legacy,
- to some symposia on his work.
"Be not afraid!"
Friday, October 10, 2014
Two women in two publication outlets representing what one would assume to be diametrically opposing world views recently both decried the same sad fact: that 90% of fetuses diagnosed with Down Syndrome in the country are aborted. Check it out. See the post by Ki’tay Davidson, blogger on the Black Girl Dangerous Blog (describing its mission: as "to, in as many ways possible, amplify the voices, experiences and expressions of queer and trans* people of color"), entitled "Angry About the White Lesbians Suing for Having a Black Child: You're Missing Something". (Thanks to a former student, Bethany Jennings, for bringing it to my attention.) Then see the post by Denise Hunnell on ZENIT (describing itself as "an international, non-profit news agency staffed by a team of professionals and volunteers who are convinced that the extraordinary wisdom of the Pontiff and the Catholic Church can nourish hope, and assist all of humanity to find truth, justice and beauty"), entitled, "Down Syndrome Does Not Make Life Disposable: Why is Disdain Becoming More Acceptable?".
Is a consensus emerging?