Fatherhood Means Being There When They Need You

I always knew that nothing I could do would ever make my Daddy love me more or less. I always knew that he would always be there for me, no matter what I did or didn’t do. Children need this from their fathers. Those who do not have it are touched with frost all their lives.

Men, nothing you do in your lives matters as much as taking care of your children. No matter what.

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My Father’s Keeper

This is for those of you who have the blessing of caring for your elderly fathers. They are not a burden. They are a blessing.

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Sued by Government for Refusing to Provide Flowers for Gay Wedding, Elderly Florist Files Countersuit

 

Arlene’s Flower and Gifts.  Is it the only place to buy flower in Washington? 

Bob Ferguson, Washington state’s attorney general, probably thought he was picking an easy fight when he took on 68 year old Barronelle Stutzman. After all, she not only had gray hair, she was a small business owner with very few resources to defend herself against the government.

It probably looked like an easy way to earn kudos from the my-way-or-the-highway crowd that seems to be running parts of our government these days. Ms Stutzman, who has a history of employing self-identified homosexuals, as well as serving them, evidently draws the line when it comes to providing flowers for gay weddings.

I think I see where she’s coming from. Selling flowers to gay customers or employing gay people are both well within Christian behavior. In fact, treating gay people like people is pretty much a requirement of following Jesus. Providing flowers for a gay wedding, on the other hand, would have put Ms Stutzman in the position of actively participating in something that just about all traditional Christians regard as sinful. It is a violation of what Jesus intended for marriage to be, and, many people believe, will do great harm to the already damaged institution of marriage.

To use an analogy, if someone who was getting ready to rob bank came into your store and wanted to buy a carton of milk for their lunch, selling them the milk would not make you part of their bank robbing. However, if they asked you to sell them a bag for the money, and they told you it would be used in a bank robbery, you would be part of the crime.

I am not equating bank robbery with gay marriage. They are entirely different. I just used that as an illustration.

The point here is that to compel someone to participate in an action that they regard as sinful is a violation of their human dignity and their right as human beings and American citizens to decide these things for themselves. Even if bank robbery was legal, if a store owner still believes that theft is a sin, they should have the right to refuse to sell the erstwhile robber the bag for the loot.

Ms Stutzman’s problems began on March 1, when Robert Ingersoll, who had known Ms Stutzman for 10 years, asked her to sell him flowers for his “wedding” to Curt Freed. Here’s Ms Stutzman’s description of what happened:

“He said he decided to get married, and before he got through I grabbed his hand and said, ‘I am sorry. I can’t do your wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ,’” Stutzman said. “He thanked me and said he respected my opinion. We talked and gave each other a hug and he left.” She said it was the only wedding she had declined in 37 years.

Attorney General Ferguson must not have too many serious crimes to deal with up there in Washington State because he immediately saddled up his white horse and rode out to hammer down on Ms Stutzman. He is using a consumer protection act to seek a $2,000 fine against Ms Stutzman, along with a permanent injunction which would force her to either sell flowers for gay weddings or to stop selling flowers for wedding ceremonies altogether. I do not know what jurisdiction passed the act the AG is using.

The only legitimate reason I can see for the chief law enforcement officer in Washington state to take such an extreme interest in this incident is that Ms Stutzman’s shop, Arlene’s Flower and Gifts, must be the only place in Washington state where those poor people who live there can buy flowers. That’s kind of sad, when you think about it.

However, Ms Stutzman hasn’t rolled over. She has filed a countersuit through the Alliance Defending Freedom. Her lawsuit is based on federal constitutional protections of religious freedom and protections in the Washington State Constitution.

According to American’s Defending Freedom:

ADF explains that the state’s lawsuit “is attempting to force Stutzman to act contrary to her religious convictions in violation of her constitutional freedoms.”

“In America, the government is supposed to protect freedom, not use its intolerance for certain viewpoints to intimidate citizens into acting contrary to their faith convictions,” said ADF senior legal counsel Dale Schowengerdt. “Family business owners are constitutionally guaranteed the freedom to live and work according to their beliefs.”

He added, “It is this very freedom that gives America its cherished diversity and protects citizens from state-mandated conformity.”

In additional to federal constitutional protections, the Washington State Constitution also protects “freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief, and worship,” as stated in Article 1, Section 11.

Stutzman has set up a fund for her defense. Donations can be sent to:

Key Bank
1275 Lee Blvd
Richland, WA 99352
509-392-4638
Attn: Lindsey

Wasting Your Life and Unnecessary Funerals

 

I don’t like going to unnecessary funerals.

You know the kind of funeral I mean. I’m talking about going to a funeral where the person who has died managed to kill themselves from overeating, undereating, drug abuse, alcoholism, or refusing to seek medical care.

Unnecessary funerals for people who threw their lives away are a drag.

However — and here’s the truth of it — each and every one of us makes choices each and every day that waste pieces of our lives.

How do we waste our lives? Here are a few examples I’ve seen, as well as a few examples I’ve practiced.

 

1. Nursing resentments over our childhood.

Freud taught our whole Western world that childhood is a minefield of damaging little bombs that our parents usher us through as they lead us to adulthood.

In Freud’s misogynist view of things, our mothers are the cause of just about every problem we will ever have. Most of what Freud thought has turned out to be tripe. In this case, it was sexist tripe. However, we have latched onto the notion that childhood is a time for us to re-visit ad nauseam  throughout our lives and that we can blame anything we do or don’t do in the span of our days on those musty memories of our littlest years.

Done this way, childhood is the ultimate cop-out. It is also the ultimate life-waster. I know people in their sixties who manage to turn every conversation back to the supposed wrongs of their childhoods. These are miserable, unproductive, resentful people that nobody who has anything going on wants to be around. Don’t waste your life like this.
2. Nursing resentments over things that happen on your job.

Making a living is a hard deal. We talk all the time in our society about “loving” our work. Well, I’m here to burst your bubble and tell you that even if you have managed to find some sort of work that is challenging, interesting and significant (lucky you, by the way) you are still going to find out that it’s also competitive, (and not always in a good way) ruthless, unforgiving and downright mean.

Making a living is hard.

For most people, who don’t have jobs that are challenging, interesting and significant, it can also be drudgery. However, bringing all this home and letting it inhabit all the rest of your time is a good way to waste your life.

Leave your job at your job. On the days you can’t do that — and we all have them — when the misery of your job crawls all over you and you can’t leave it there, remember that your family is support, not your enemy, and your home is your refuge. Don’t misplace your anger over your work onto the few people who truly love you.

Once you get past those total downer days, leave it there and go on. Earning a living is tough. Accept that and stop wasting your life on the fantasy that you are cursed because you have to earn a living and it’s not always fun. That fantasy leads to life-wasting resentment that can destroy your family and drain your days of happiness. Making a living is hard. Get over it.
3.  Nursing resentments about your failures.

My Grandfather told me once, “There is always some guy out there who can whip you in a fight. There’s always a horse that can throw you. That’s just the way it is.” What he meant is that if you get out there and mix it up with the world, the world is going to knock you flat from time to time.

You can waste your life running and hiding from every challenge. You can hide inside your house and not come out, or you can hide in the slow suicide of drugs and alcohol. But if you chose to live out in the world and walk free, you are going to get knocked down from time to time. Sometimes you eat the bear. Other times, the bear eats you.

Again, I know people who make their lives utterly miserable by picking at every failure until they turn it into a festering boil. They never admit that the failure was at least partly due to their own mistakes. They wouldn’t consider looking at it honestly and determining what they can change to not get knocked down in the future. No. They blame everyone and everything, often indulging in what are flat-out fantasies of supposed wrongs in order to keep from acknowledging the simple fact that this time the bear ate them.

Not only do they waste what could be a valuable learning experience that will help them figure out how to overcome these obstacles in the future, they waste the only thing they truly have. They waste their lives.

I’m going to stop with these three life-wasters. Three is enough for now. However there a many others. Notice that all these focus on one thing: Nursing and nurturing resentment over the inevitable vicissitudes of life.

If somebody told you that you will get through this life without having your parents make mistakes in how they raised you, without the drudgery of work, without humiliating defeats and embarrassing goofs, they were either deluded or they were lying to you.

Life is beautiful. It is wonderful. It is worth every single bit of drudgery and pain, failure and betrayal we encounter as we live through it.

But it is not painless. That is not a bad thing. The tough times often turn out, in retrospect, to be the most productive times. You just have to learn from them. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn what not to do and how to do it better the next time.

Life may be hard at times. It is hard at times. But it is always worth the struggle. Because the good times outnumber the bad, and because this brief life is a preparation for the eternal life on the other side of it.

Don’t waste this life God has given you on the three resentments I named.

Once childhood is done, live your life and love your parents. Forget about the rest.

Remember that work, even if it seems meaningless and filled with back-stabbing nonsense, is still an honorable activity that provides the stuff of our physical existence: food, clothing and shelter. If you are supporting a family, then your work has the immense dignity of homemaking and family making. Do not let resentment over work poison your whole life and destroy your relationships with the very people you are working to support.

When — not if, but when — you get knocked flat, go ahead and cry about it. Cry your little eyes out. Punch out a couple of walls. What you should not do is indulge in blaming everything and everyone else and building up resentments. I’m sure there are people you can point to who let you down, betrayed you, or just walked away from you when you were in need. It’s ok to be mad at them. But it’s not ok to make them the center of your life or of your analysis of what happened that led to your defeat. If you trusted the wrong person, you trusted the wrong person. Been there. Done that. Lots of times.

What you should do is take some time to grieve, making sure the time you give is commensurate with the loss. Two weeks of wailing and moaning is not enough time for a major flop, but it is excessive for a bad grade on a test. Then, straighten yourself out, sit down and figure out what you could have done to get a different result. Think it through with a mind to not make the same mistakes again. Then, get back out there and rejoin the fight.

I don’t like unnecessary funerals. I also don’t like being around people who are constantly angry and miserable about ordinary things that happened five, ten, even thirty years ago.I’m not talking about massive traumas. Those things usually need professional help to heal. I’m talking about the pits and scars of everyday life that happen to every single one of us.

Don’t waste your life using resentment to avoid reality. The reality is that your parents did their best, making a living is hard and everybody gets knocked flat from time to time. These things are not the meaning of your life. They are opportunities for growth. Overcoming them to lead a full, productive life that is filled with love is the challenge and the opportunity of living that everyone faces. Not just you, everyone.

Abortion on Demand After the 5th Month: Should It Be Legal?

 

Rumors have it that the United States House of Representatives will vote on a bill that will extend the District of Columbia ban on abortions after 20 weeks to the rest of the country.

The bill passed out of House committee this week, and, according to some sources, is being marked up for a vote that may take place next week. I doubt that this bill will pass in the Senate, and it certainly will be vetoed by the President if it does. There is no chance the bill’s authors can convince both houses to override a Presidential veto.

 

On top of that, Roe v Wade specifically set the limit for abortion on demand (with some regulations) at 26 weeks of pregnancy. Unless the Court changes that ruling, the bill is unconstitutional.

So, what is happening here?

I do not see any reason for late-term abortions. I’ve written about that here. However, I always wonder about the real reason for a vote like this, since it is definitely not to make a law and everyone involved knows it.

Do the bill’s authors view the vote as a statement designed to build consensus over time? Are they throwing down the political gauntlet and forcing people to declare where they stand on this issue by how they cast their votes? Do they want to use it as a way of defining an issue for upcoming political campaigns? Or is this some combination of all these things?

I would guess that almost any member of the United States Congress could take a roll sheet of either the Senate or the House and pinpoint with amazing accuracy how each member will vote on this. I imagine they could have pinpointed it at any time during this session. I’ll go a step further and say that they could probably predict what everyone who speaks on the issue will say.

So they’re not trying to convince one another. This is about something else.

 

If they had a chance of passing this into law, it would be a powerful thing, indeed. It would force the Supreme Court to either rule against it or let it stand. That could be great, or, if they uphold it, it could make the situation worse; potentially much worse. Everything you do in when you’re in public office can go great or turn sour. In issues with generational punch and Court oversight like this one, strategy is everything.

The reason I’m raising these questions is that I want you to peel back the layers of propaganda and think about what is really happening with your government. I want you to look at the legislative process with understanding. If Christians are to affect change in the world, we need to do more than watch the game and cheer for our side. We need to be able to see through the game.

 

So, give a thought or two about this bill to limit abortions and tell me what you think they’re doing. Do you think it has any chance to succeed legislatively? Do you think that one of the many similar laws that have passed in the various states will wend its way through the appeals process and on up to the Supreme Court? Do you think there’s any chance the Supreme Court will uphold that law if it does?

These are big questions, and I can tell you, I don’t know the answers to all of them.

What do you think?

Funerals Cost Too Much Money

My father died in 1994.

His funeral cost $5,000.

The only reason we got away with costs that low was that Daddy had given us clear instructions that he wanted the least expensive casket and trimmings that we could get.

“My body is going to rot, anyway,” he said. “So why does it matter? Don’t you dare waste money on burying me.”

That helped us a lot when the funeral home people came at us with their vague suggestions about caskets that would leak and other subtle comments designed to guilt us into spending too much for what wouldn’t help my father one bit. The interesting moment in the negotiations came after every casket they showed us was well over $2000. My niece happened to spot a steel casket that was hidden away under another one.

I still remember how disgusted the funeral director looked when she found that $1000 casket. It was, I imagine, something they kept out of sight unless it was needed for people who really couldn’t afford to pay.

There was talk of life insurance all through the discussions. It turns out that funeral homes are very willing for you to sign the proceeds of your family member’s life insurance over to them in advance of your getting it. The implication we got was that if we didn’t, they would leave Daddy’s body parked out on the curb for the garbage collectors to take.

Fortunately, we had the money to pay for the funeral. And we had Daddy’s clear instructions. And we attended a wonderful church that didn’t charge us a dime for the use of their facilities.

Daddy got a warm, spiritual send-off, and we weren’t robbed blind in the process.

Things have been a little dicier for my sister this week. She and my brother-in-law didn’t have the cash on hand to pay for his funeral, so family members are chipping in to pay for it. My brother-in-law had evidently expressed a wish to be cremated, so that’s the way my sister is going with this.

It’s really rough for people who are ravaged by grief to be forced to cut corners on their family members’ funerals. I imagine it feels to many of them like the concern for money is over-concern and that they are disrespecting their loved one by not spending freely.

I think the funeral industry loves the survivor’s guilt that people feel after someone dies. I think they prey on it in subtle ways throughout the funeral planning negotiations. It is a simple fact that when someone you love dies, you are going to feel remorse for things you said or didn’t say; things you did or didn’t do. No one is perfect, and neither is any relationship between two people.

 

When you are confronted with the reality that you will never see them again in this life, it doesn’t matter how loving your relationship was or how steadfastly you may have cared for them; you will suddenly feel swamped with remorse for what you didn’t do, even if what you didn’t do isn’t worth a hill of beans.

That’s just the way it is. It happens to everyone. Unfortunately, that feeling of remorse makes you even more vulnerable to the manipulations of funeral directors who are trying to sell you upwards in what you do for your loved one’s funeral.

As I said, I still remember the talk about caskets that leaked when we were putting together Daddy’s funeral. Who wants to think about someone they love, lying in the ground with water running into their casket? What kind of person would be indifferent to that?

I guess the kind of person who could be, if not indifferent, at least immune to the manipulation the talk of leaking caskets represents, is someone whose father told them, “My body is going to rot, anyway, so what does it matter?”

I was with Daddy when he died. I had no doubt at all that he was dead. I also knew that only his body had died. He was still alive. His body had stopped and he had stepped out of it. He wasn’t gone, he had just gone on ahead of me. The body he left behind wasn’t him.

But, even though I knew he wasn’t in it anymore, I still loved his body. I remember when I was little and our family went to the zoo, he would lift me up and put me on his shoulders and I would ride around looking at the animals from that lofty perch. I loved those shoulders, love them still. Those arms held me when I cried, that face smiled when I walked into a room. I loved my father’s body, even though it was now just an empty shell that, yes, was going to rot.

So how we did his funeral, the way we treated what funeral directors so aptly call “the remains” mattered.

Families should not be put through guilt-enhancing manipulations and “sold” into spending more money than they can afford when they are so vulnerable with grief. I know that running a funeral home is a business. I believe that people who do it deserve to make a living. However, they have chosen this business which puts them in the position of selling their wares to vulnerable people. They should have accepted the responsibility to behave ethically that goes with that business when they chose it.

Funerals cost too much money. Part of the reason is that people overspend when they go to the funeral home to make “the arrangements.”

Funerals cost too much money. Most of the reason is that the funeral home business is a monopoly that, at least here in Oklahoma, is protected by laws that were written by and passed for the industry itself.

That’s an old, old story, isn’t it? I wonder: Is there any industry that doesn’t use the elected representatives of the people to write laws for itself that do harm to the people the representatives were elected to protect? I don’t know of one.

Funerals cost too much money. There are a lot of reasons, but corporate funeral homes that operate as chains certainly contribute to the overcharging.

I am not in a very good mood today. I am put out by the unkindness of the way that corporate policies, legislative indifference and guilt combine to make life so much harder than it needs to be for people when they go through losing someone they love.

Everyone dies and none of us like to think about it.

I think that is the ultimate reason that funerals cost too much. None of us want to think about it until we have to, so we let these forces conspire against us in the laws, the culture and our own hearts. That means that when we walk into that funeral home feeling shell-shocked and so grieved we have trouble standing upright and drawing in a breath both at the same time, we are easy prey for the pickings that are coming at us.

The New Prostitution: Surrogate Pregnancy

I’m going to be writing about the “new” prostitution a lot in the months ahead. One of these new ways to objectify and exploit women is commercial surrogate pregnancy.

Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, is a stalwart battler for women’s human rights in the face of the new forms of dehumanization and exploitation that medical technology has placed in the hands of doctors. She has fought a hard and often futile battle against a money-hungry medical establishment which supports doctors in exploiting and harming their patients for monetary gain.

This technology is marketed as a solution for desperate families who can’t have children. In truth, what we have is the buying and selling of women and babies over the internet in what can only be described as a mass market for a new and virulent form of prostitution. The purchasers are wealthy people, including many powerful celebrities, who don’t want to be bothered with having children themselves, and homosexuals, especially gay men.

In  my opinion, one reason this misogynist abuse of women has been allowed to flourish is that the churches are, even now, tone deaf about women’s human rights. They focus on the lives of the embryos that are mass produced by harvested eggs without considering that the women whose bodies are being farmed, and whose health and dignity as human being is being comprised, are also human beings whose human rights as well as their health and well-being are compromised by this practice.

In truth, egg harvesting and surrogacy is a one-two punch of human rights violations. It reduces both the babies and the women to the level of commodities to be bought and sold with no regard for their well-being.

It comes as no surprise to me that a lawmaker in Washington DC wants to swing the doors wide open on the abuse of women and children with this egregious practice. The lawmaker is Councilman David Catania and he says he does not expect any serious opposition since all he’s doing is “remedying … an imperfection in the law.”

 

Oklahoma City Ads for Buying Women’s Bodies to Use as Surrogates. 

I just love the casual way people who are tone deaf to human rights, especially as they apply to women, decide that buying and selling women, using their bodies like appliances, and farming them like they were animals is not only an A-OK thing to do, it’s all for the greater good. Misogyny is truly a wonderment, isn’t it?

From National Catholic Register:

Surrogate Pregnancy Bill in D.C. Draws Criticism (725)

Women and children are exploited through this popular ‘rent-a-womb’ practice, Jennifer Lahl charges.

WASHINGTON — A lack of information about the dangers of surrogate pregnancy could soon allow the

practice to become legal in Washington, D.C., warned the founder of one bioethics organization.

“These issues aren’t on anyone’s radar,” said Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture. “By and large, people have accepted third-party reproduction. It’s not seen as controversial … because people are woefully misinformed.”

Lahl told Catholic News Agency that the average person sees nothing wrong with surrogacy, which is the practice of a woman carrying and delivering a baby for someone else. This could explain the lack of opposition to a new bill in the nation’s capital, she said.

Legislation introduced June 3 by D.C. Councilman David Catania would legalize surrogacy in the District. If passed, it would wipe away current local legislation prohibiting surrogacy contracts, which carry penalties of up to $10,000 in fines or a year in jail.

“I don’t expect there to be any significant opposition,” Catania told the Washington Examiner. “This is about remedying what I believe to be an imperfection in our law.”

Lahl, who worked as a pediatric nurse for 20 years, said most people are unaware of the negative repercussions of surrogacy. She noted that concerns with legalized surrogacy include a lack of research in the field and a failure to consider the impact on the child and the woman whose womb is being “rented.”

One of the biggest concerns, she warned, is that the relationship between a mother and a child in her womb is ignored.

“So much is going on in that womb,” Lahl explained. “The surrogate mom and child will be linked genetically, and there’s so much we’re learning about genetic diseases and how much the womb plays into that child’s health.”

The connection is more than simply physical, she continued.

“Newborns know one thing — they know who their mother is,” she said. “I’ve known of mothers who sing to their children in the womb or read them books. What happens when you tell a mother to intentionally not bond with a child in their womb?”

California lawyer Stephanie Caballero handles surrogacy cases and says 30% of her clients are homosexual. She told the Washington Examiner that, with proper screening, money is not the only reason women decide to become surrogates.

“The first reason is because they want to help someone,” she said. “They do it [in part] because they love being pregnant.”

However, as part of a new documentary for the Center for Bioethics and Culture, Lahl has interviewed numerous women who were surrogate mothers. By and large, she said, surrogate women “are women who have financial need — wealthy women are going to be buying the surrogacy contract.”


Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/surrogate-pregnancy-bill-in-d.c.-draws-criticism?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-06-10%2012:22:01#ixzz2Vr4nJEGJ

Six-Time Pro Bowler Matt Birk Skips White House Visit Because of His Catholic Beliefs

 

Matt Birk is more than a famous football player. He is also a devout Catholic and the father of six children. When the Ravens visited the White House recently, they did it without Matt.

“I have great respect for the … presidency … but our President made a comment in a speech … he said ‘God bless Planned Parenthood.’

“Planned Parenthood performs about 300,000 abortions a year. I couldn’t endorse that in any way. I’m very confused by (the) statement. For God to bless a place where they’re ending 300,000 lives a year? I chose not to attend.”

President Obama made the speech Mr Birk is referring to at the National Planned Parenthood Conference in April. He said, “Thank you Planned Parenthood. God bless you. God bless America.”

Mr Birk’s decision to forgo this White House function was a big one for him personally, I’m sure. Not only did he miss on the chance to be honored by the president for his super bowl win, he also had to step away from his teammates to do it. It is never easy to step out of line alone. 

But he put Jesus first. He put the lives of 300,000 murdered children first.

We all need to start doing this kind of thing. Just like Roy Costner IV who refused to censor his valedictorian address by removing all references to his faith, each of us needs to stop going along to get along when it concerns our faith. We do not have to condemn others or attack them in any way. We just need to stop letting them back us down and force us to deny Jesus by going silent.

President Obama said, “God bless America.”

I say God bless Matt Birk, Roy Costner and every other Christian who will stand for Christ.

 

Elizabeth Duffy: Thinking Her Way Out of Drowning

I remember the swimming safety rules. One of the first was do not jump in the water to try to save someone who is drowning.

The reason?

In their panic, they will latch onto you and drag you down with them.

The instructors went through dramatizations. One would pretend to drown, the other would jump in to “save” them and be promptly pulled under by the flailing arms of the “drowning” one.

After this graphic presentation, the instructors would show us the better way. Take a pole they said, as they lifted one of the long poles on the side of the pool, and extend it to the drowning person. Remain on the side of the pool, on dry concrete, while you do this. They extended the pole to their “drowning” colleague who reached out for it and was pulled to the side of the pool without mishap.

It was a great lesson in how to help and survive the act of helping. It would work at any well-equipped pool when the drowning person was still above water.

However, what do you do when you’re at a lake and the drowning one is too far away for poles and you don’t have a pole anyway? Do you just stand there and let them drown?

I suppose a wise person would always have a pole of some sort with them when they swim. That way, they could, at least theoretically, swim out to the person in trouble, extend the pole and then pull them back to safety. Of course, a panicky person is perfectly capable of coming up the pole at you and overwhelming you, anyway.

People are only tenuously at home in water. It’s not our natural habitat. Everything we do there is in some way a work-around, and those work-arounds can fall apart and leave us in trouble all too easily.

Drowning is evidently a quiet affair for those who observe it. People can drown right beside us in the water and we may not know it until it’s too late.

All these facts converged on Elizabeth Duffy, who blogs about perspectives on Catholic life, family and culture here at Patheos, when she was enjoying an early-summer swimming outing with her kids. Elizabeth nearly drowned, and her young son along with her. She was trying to rescue her child and his panicky latching onto her almost took them both out. Meanwhile, her other children continued to play, unaware that Mom and brother were in such peril.

It’s a gripping read about something we all hope never happens to us. The remarkable thing is the way Elizabeth rose above the panic and thought her way out of this situation. Her post says in part:

I could see that my boy had stopped moving in any direction and was barely keeping his head afloat. Quickly, I overcame the cold, and dove under to swim out to him. I thought I would be able to latch him onto my shoulders and walk him in, but I had not anticipated the water being over my head where he was treading.

As expected, when I reached him, he latched onto me, but walking in to shallower water was not going to be possible. Nor was swimming, as his weight on me prevented my getting above water for a breath. I would have told him to turn on his back and kick towards shore, but I couldn’t give him any instruction. Each time I opened my mouth, it filled with water.

This is how tragedy happens. I was under water. I couldn’t communicate. The boy couldn’t swim. The other kids were stranded on a raft in rough water. The five-year-old was unsupervised on the shore, and no one was around. (Read the rest here.)

The Real Housewives of the Department of Justice

The document below is a copy of a Department of Justice brochure advising managers to be gay friendly.

Socially conservative commenters have been roasting this brochure while social liberal commenters and most of the media has ignored it.

After reading quite a few comments about the brochure, I decided to look it up and read it myself. I may be just getting blasé about these things, but this brochure didn’t make me angry the way it has some people. I don’t like it, but I’m not outraged by it. My basic feeling is that this is about what I’ve come to expect from the DOJ.

It is certainly a heavy-handed piece of literature. However most of the things it advises are simple courtesy, which, if they’d been put forward in a less intimidating and bizarre way probably wouldn’t offend anybody.

It would never occur to me to call people in my office by degrading names, whatever their affiliations or personal lifestyle. If that is an issue at the Department of Justice for any group of people, or, for that matter, for any individual, it needs to be addressed. However this brochure with is not the way to do it.

The problem with the brochure is that it doesn’t seem to be so much about good office practices so far as courtesy and civility are concerned as it is a vaguely threatening piece “advising” managers to take a particular position on a political/social issue. That is out of line. It’s way out of line, verging on flat-out illegal.

Before I go to the illegal stuff, I want to take a brief detour and talk about the crazy stuff.  Advising managers to turn the Department of Justice into a therapy session for LGBT people and their various problems is not only unprofessional, it is totally out of line, and … well … crazy. That is not the purpose of the DOJ. Behavior like that would destroy the work environment and create an emotional mess which was all about the various employees and their private lives instead of the work to be done.

I’m assuming that the Department of Justice does important work. I know that it’s charged with doing important work, work so important that we need employees who are eminently sane and responsible to do it.

There is no reason I can think of why a manager would be going around inviting employees to “come out” to him or her about their sexuality, or their family life or any other personal matter. That kind of behavior is not only inappropriate and invasive, it is flat-out destructive to a professional environment in the workplace.

What employees do in the privacy of their own bedrooms should stay in the privacy of their bedrooms. The workplace is not a coffee klatch.

It is also out of line — this is where it the brochure leans toward illegality — to try to coerce employees to attend gay pride events or keep gay pride literature and gay pride badges in their offices.

It is wholly inappropriate for the DOJ to instruct managers to attend gay pride events or to encourage their subordinates to do so. This kind of behavior oversteps the bounds of the employee-employer relationship. Since these events are quasi political, it also comes perilously close to a government agency coercing its employees to advocate for political issues as a requirement of their employment. 

The brochure’s advice to “assume that LGBT employees and their allies are listening to what you’re saying … and will read what you’re writing and make sure the language you use is inclusive and respectful” is downright Orwellian. No manager should write or say personally insulting things about any employee. But the way this is worded goes beyond that advice to the world of spying and threats.

A lot of commenters appear to be upset over the advice not to use the phrase “husband and wife” in invitations to office parties (the DOJ sounds like a social club rather than the United States Department of Justice all through this memo.) I agree with these commenters. If someone is offended by the use of the phrase husband and wife, then they are denying reality.

If the DOJ wants to establish a policy that the partners of homosexual employees are to be included at occasions where spouses are also included, then they should establish that policy. There’s no reason to censor the use of language to communicate that.

This heavy-handed, vaguely threatening memo sounds like a caricature of an office memo. I notice that it’s not just a memo, it’s a designed brochure, which means the government spent quite a bit of money and talent putting it together.

What the memo seems to show us is a Department of Justice that is focused on trivialities instead of justice. It sounds like they’ve got quite a party atmosphere going there and that managers are way too involved in their employees’ private lives.

I think an office should be professional and that it should treat all its employees professionally. People form friendships at work and if they want to discuss their private lives within the framework of these friendships and they can do that without it interfering with their work, that is ok.

However, instructing managers to encourage their employees to “come out” to them about private sexual matters and to make their office environments into “safe places” for this behavior is not only unprofessional, it abrogates the purpose of the DOJ.  So far as I know the United States Department of Justice does not have intra-office psycho-babbling as part of its mandate.

This memo seems to be written for a Department of Justice that is being run like a gathering of the Real Housewives of the DOJ.

If our government employees spend their time “coming out” to one another and setting up parties, they’re wasting our money. If government employees come to work in drag or dressed in other inappropriate ways, they are not being professional and should be dismissed.

This has nothing to do with sexual preference. It has everything to do with maintaining a professional, courteous and public work environment.

Our society has gotten so touchy-feely, and so focused on empowering the nuts who reside in it that we’ve lost sight of the fact that workplaces are environments where people do work. If this is how they run the DOJ, I can tell you that I think we the people are probably being ripped off.


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