Big Les

the Drunken Prophet

    Preaching to the choir

    January 15th, 2023

    The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has called for a Eucharistic Revival, one that has as its end “to restore understanding and devotion to this great mystery.” The bishops cited a 2019 study conducted by Pew Research Center as evidence of the need for revival, but it has been three years in the making. Whether it’s taken this long to plan, or COVID restrictions caused delays, or both, a timetable has been laid out, and the end seems clear, but the objective is uncertain. Who are they targeting, and is the data reliable? Let’s first have a look at the data cited.

    Pew Research Center is well-respected and often trusted, but it is a third party source that may not have a firm grasp of Catholic language or teaching. In their survey they use language that is ambiguous, and they conflate Catholic terminology. They contrast symbolism with transubstantiation and speak of the sacrament as the source and summit of the Christian life. These blurred lines call into question the accuracy of the data as many surveyed may not pick up on these distinctions, and it is unclear whether the findings were scrutinized. The study found that:

    • 69% of self-described Catholics believe the bread and wine “are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” 
    • 31% say they believe that “during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.” 

    The Church teaches the bread and wine are symbols, but not merely. On the altar, they symbolize and re-present the body and blood of our Lord separated in a state of victimhood (MD 70). This sacrifice is the source and summit (LG 11). In the sacrament itself, the bread and wine appear as symbols that actually convey the grace of Christ’s presence. Transubstantiation is the means by which this happens. So, the language used in the survey is misleading albeit inadvertently.

    The same study also found that:

    • 63% of devout Catholics that regularly attend Mass do believe in transubstantiation.
    • 37% of these same Catholics that regularly attend do not.
      • 23% of which do not know Church teaching.
      • 14% know the teaching but object.

    The numbers below haven’t gotten much attention, but they reveal a lot.

    Notice that with regular Mass attendance, Catholics are more likely to believe Church teaching, but the opposite is true for those who attend less frequently:

    • 58 of the 63% of Catholics that attend Mass at least weekly know what the Church teaches about transubstantiation.
    • 25 of the 87% of Catholics who rarely attend Mass know what the Church teaches.

    These numbers together with the others reveal that the USCCB in its National Eucharistic Revival is targeting you, the reader. The Church in America wants to make sure all Catholics know what the Eucharist is, and She knows she can only reach those who will hear, those who are devout and regularly attend Mass. She wants you to take the message of the Eucharist to other Catholics who probably don’t know any better. The Church is preaching to the choir, and She wants you to sing!

    PAC of lies

    January 10th, 2023

    Cluttering mailboxes across the Commonwealth are political ads for the special election coming up, and one in particular has raised my eyebrow. Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC has launched an attack on Kevin Adams (R), candidate for Virginia state senate using muddied, shotgun-style argumentation compacted into two bullet points:

    1. Adams supports banning abortion and would vote to take away Virginians’ rights to make their own healthcare decisions.
    2. Adams volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center, an anti-choice organization that the American Medical Association called “unethical” due to predatory practices.

    Even if you hate republicans or feel strongly about a woman’s right to choose and support Planned Parenthood for the healthcare they do provide women, you should read on to see how they lie. They lie both subtly and overtly, and they don’t think you’ll catch it, but they condemn themselves by citing their sources, ironically. The overt lie is the more blatant one and easier to articulate, so let’s start there.

    Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC cites an article from the AMA Journal of Ethics co-written by two MD’s who express their concerns about the ethical validity of crisis pregnancy centers (CPC) that aren’t licensed medical clinics. Even though it seems clear the two doctors would support unrestricted access to abortion, their concerns are not about abortion or even the pregnant woman’s health per se, but instead they are more concerned with how these facilities are perceived particularly in “crisis” moments when the expectant mother is considering abortion. This is the ethics about which they speak. But the overt lie is revealed in the AMA disclaimer at the bottom, “The viewpoints expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.” Planned Parenthood wants you to think otherwise.

    The other lie is a bit more challenging to disentangle, so we’ll take it bit by bit. The language Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC uses in their political attack is argumentative and intentionally conflating. This is not uncommon. All sides do it without regard to the topic, and quite often the attack focuses on the person or organization and not the actual issue.

    • CPC’s are no more anti-choice than Planned Parenthood is anti-life. While a significant portion of Planned Parenthood’s revenue is derived from abortion services, it does provide healthcare for women such as pre-screening for breast cancer and gynecological exams, yet with the loss abortion revenue they may have to close some of their clinics; hence their campaign.
    • Planned Parenthood claims Adams would ban abortion. They reference his website nonspecifically, but it doesn’t take long to find out what Adams actually says under My Platform, “We need to pass laws that respect the rights of the mom and baby, limit late-term abortion by passing Glenn Youngkin’s 15-week legislation, while providing reasonable exceptions to protect the life of the mother or in the instance of rape or incest.” They intentionally misrepresent Adams’ position.
    • Planned Parenthood vaguely intimates that abortion is healthcare. Stay with me. This is what’s called equivocation: speaking with equal voice about two different things.
      1. Healthcare is defined as: efforts made to maintain or restore physical, mental, or emotional well-being especially by trained and licensed professionals. Its aim is to effect remedies to ailments of various sorts. Pregnancy is not an ailment.
      2. Abortion is defined as: the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus. This definition is partially influenced by the AMA’s inclusion of miscarriages as abortions, but in common usage abortion is understood to be intentional. Planned Parenthood wants you to think freedom in healthcare will be lost.

    Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC insists “we can’t risk anti-abortion extremist Kevin Adams” when Planned Parenthood is the extremist. They are extreme in their overt lies and misrepresentations, and they are extreme in their prejudice against the average voter to discern these falsehoods. Their primary concern is the continuation and further proliferation of abortion under the guise of healthcare. Wherever you stand on the issue, know that people lie to cover up the truth, and they don’t care whom they hurt or kill.

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