Thanks, Mom

11/05/2015 Comments (2)

"Thank you . . . " I unthinkingly prompted the drive-through girl at Wendy's, after she wordlessly shoved a bulging bag of food through the window of my van. I had just plunked down an unreasonable amount of money, money without which her job would not exist, and she didn't even say "Thank you!" I wasn't expecting pheasant under glass, and I don't need to have my bum kissed for buying a Son of Baconator, but I guess a mom is a mom is a mom. Part of my job is teaching people to at least be courteous, even when they can't muster up spontaneous gratitude.

Okay, maybe it's not my job to correct the poor Wendy's gal. But I do want to hear "thank you" from people who are under my authority. I do...READ MORE

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An Ethically-Produced Shingles Vaccine?

11/03/2015 Comments (10)

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline may soon be able to offer a more effective shingles vaccine -- and it's produced ethically. Unlike the only other shingles vaccine available for use in the US, the new GSK vaccine, HZ/su, is not produced using cell lines derived from fetal cells. Currently, Merck holds the only license for a shingles vaccine in this country. That vaccine, Zostavax, is produced using cell lines that were grown from cells taken from a male fetus aborted at 14 weeks in the early 1960's.  

The Church teaches that it is permissible to use unethically derived vaccines when no alternative is available, because using them constitutes, at most, "a form of very remote mediate...READ MORE

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China's One-Child Policy Relaxed Nationwide

10/29/2015 Comments (18)

Chinese couples will soon be permitted by the state to have two children. According to the New York Times, the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua has announced that the Communist party is relaxing its decades-old population control policy, which brutally punished couples for having more than one child.

For nearly forty years, the Chinese government has punished unauthorized pregnancies by forcibly sterilizing women, confiscating possessions and livestock, and destroying homes. Couples who had unauthorized children were punished by the loss of their jobs and with hefty fines; and pregnant women who could not pay the fine, which could amount to several years' wages, could be legally...READ MORE

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Rogue Laughter in a Flippant Society

10/27/2015 Comments (11)

Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin (1878-1939), "Farce"

 The Boston Globe notes a new phenomenon: some people in the audience at live theater performances laugh loudly when they should be weeping, or gasping, or holding their breaths in horror. 

“Rogue laughter,” as Boston-area actress Marianna Bassham calls it, has become an occupational hazard for actors, an annoyance for audiences, and an increasingly common phenomenon on stages from Boston to Broadway and from “A Streetcar Named Desire” to last year’s New York revival of “A Raisin in the Sun,” starring Denzel Washington.

Now, there is nothing funnier than a scene that aims for tragedy and misses wildly. As Oscar Wilde said, 'One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little...READ MORE

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Who's Your Monster?

10/20/2015 Comments (29)

David R. Tribble, "Gargoyle and Girl" (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Want to learn something about a society? Then take a look at what sort of fictional monsters are currently in vogue. What we fear tells us what kind of people we are.

Mary Shelley's book Frankenstein (subtitled The Modern Prometheus) expressed, among other things, the early 19th-century concern over how far man should go in trying to tame and manipulate the natural world. It was the dawn of the industrial revolution in England, and it was not at all clear that this was a good thing.  According to Anna North in a NYT op-ed, Shelley's book

came out at a time when experiments like Galvani’s with electricity were challenging previous ideas about the basis of life. “People were really nervous...READ MORE

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An Uninvited Pope and the Power of Words

10/15/2015 Comments (16)

Pope Francis walking to the hall of the Synod of Bishops on October 12, 2015. (© L'Osservatore Romano)

There was some head-scratching after Pope Francis offered an apology at his general audience on Wednesday. According to the BBC, the Pope said

Before I begin the Catechism, in the name of the Church, I want to ask you for forgiveness for the scandals that have occurred recently either in Rome or in the Vatican. I ask you for forgiveness."

He most likely meant the scandal, and the resulting eruption of anti-Catholic sentiment in the popular media, that came when Msgr. Krysztof  Charamsa, a Vatican official, announced on the eve of the Synod that he had been flouting his vow of chastity and was "happy and proud" of his gay identity. Charamsa called the Church "backward" and "inhuman"...READ MORE

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Worth Watching Again: The Edge

10/13/2015 Comments (8)

Looking for a tight, brisk adventure movie with some moral heft? We re-watched The Edge (1997, screenplay by David Mamet), and it was even better than I remembered. I can't think why it's not better known.

Anthony Hopkins plays Charlie Morse, a quiet, aging billionaire with a freakish penchant for collecting theoretical knowledge. He and his supermodel wife (Elle Macpherson) are visiting the wilds of Alaska for a photo shoot. He loves her, but suddenly realizes that she's carrying on with her photographer, the dissipated and cynical Bob (Alec Baldwin). Just as suddenly, he realizes that Bob plans to kill him for his wife and money -- and Bob knows that he knows. As Charlie says in another...READ MORE

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"Something needs to be done," Said the Princess

10/08/2015 Comments (2)

Are we done fretting about princess culture yet? Because I think I've found the final word on what it really means to be a princess.

Abzeita Djigma is a real live princess from the Western African country of Burkina Faso.  She is "a direct descendant of the famous warrior and legendary Princess Yennenga," she has a message for us: "Go where people need you." She wants to enlighten the lives of her people -- literally. 

Djigma is an engineer and the mother of four grown children, and she is using her education, her title, and her beautiful self to spread the word about an initiative by her company, AbzeSolar, whose mission is to bring basic, sustainable solar products into African...READ MORE

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About Simcha Fisher

Simcha Fisher
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Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs daily at Aleteia. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and ten children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.