Subject: Culturebox Caricatures Catholics
Re: " Culturebox: What Do Orthodox Jews Think About Abortion and Why?"
From: Peter Nixon
Date: Mon Aug 28 2:04 p.m. PT
Judith Shulevitz's otherwise interesting article on the position of Orthodox Judaism on abortion was marred by a number of distortions of the Catholic teaching on abortion. First of all, the Catholic Church does not teach that if the mother's life is threatened, the unborn child must be saved rather than the mother. Catholic teaching allows a pregnant woman whose life is at risk to obtain any medical procedure needed to save her life, even if such a procedure would result in the death of her child.
Second of all, the Church does not teach that unbaptized infants go to "limbo." It is true that this belief (which arose due to the speculations of some Catholic theologians) was widespread among Catholics of earlier generations, but the concept was never formally established as a teaching of the Church.
Third, Catholic doctrine does not come "directly from the Pope," as Shulevitz puts it. While the Pope certainly has primacy in settling disputed matters of doctrine and providing worldwide leadership for the Church, Catholic doctrine is not simply whatever a Pope says it is. If John Paul II were to arise tomorrow morning and declare that Jesus never rose from the dead (admittedly an unlikely event), I would hope that his brother bishops would quickly move to repudiate such a statement.
Fourth, it is not true that the Catholic Church tolerated early abortions until 1869. Catholic condemnation of abortion as sinful and an offense against life has been consistent for almost its entire history. Shulevitz is correct, however, that the Church did not teach that abortion was homicide from the moment of conception until relatively recently.
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I am a documentary producer in Oklahoma and just finished a one-hour program on gymnastics in our state. We spoke to all of Oklahoma's elite gymnasts including Shannon Miller, and the coaches at top gyms like Steve Nunno, Paul Ziert, and Kristi Krafft. We even spoke to a prominent orthopedic surgeon who traveled with the 1996 Olympic team. All of them acknowledged that training in the top echelon of women's gymnastics was indeed rigorous, but pointed out that this is also the case in the upper echelon of any sport. I went into my research ready to find some controversy. But among the elite, those who endure the rigorous hours in the gym, they have no regrets. I found them to be bright, well-adjusted young women who will undoubtedly go far in life simply because their training has taught them dedication to a single purpose. All of them excel in school—a few were home-schooled, but most attended public schools.
Millions of little girls take gymnastics across our nation. Only a select few will climb to the elite level, and I know first-hand that during the summer of 2000, the elite in at least one state is happy with the experience.
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Subject: Polish Solidarity—A Singular, Bootstrap Revolution
Re: " Foreigners: Forgetting Poland's Past"
Date: Thu Aug 31 9:10 a.m. PT
It is interesting, fascinating, how quickly the totalitarian era has passed into history in Poland. But Ms. Applebaum's dismissal of national character is simplistic. Unlike most other Soviet-dominated peoples, the Poles fought the communist system, in large death-defying groups and in small everyday ways, for 35 years leading up to and after Solidarity in 1980. This is a case of a distinct people striving against daunting odds for a different system. The reason they have adapted as well as they have to a new way of life is that they actively sought it—and risked lives and livelihoods to get it.
You cannot just create a different "economic system" and in 20 years—actually 10, for Poland went into even darker days after 1980—profoundly alter any other country as Poland has been altered. Look at the mess in Russia, or Poland's close neighbors, Belarus and the Ukraine. I wish economic transformation could be as simple as she wishes it to be for countries in Africa, say. But the Poles' national character—their long history of struggle—accounts for their economic success; structural reform by itself would not have sufficed.
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