Justice, three ways.

I don’t recognize the church of my youth. This version is the one that appears in movies where nuns and priests never smile, have filthy secrets and abuse children. Only this woman, a teacher in a Fort Wayne Catholic school who asked the wrong boss for a few days off, isn’t a child:

During the meeting, Kuzmich told Herx repeatedly she was a “grave, immoral sinner,” and that should news of the treatments get out there would be a scandal, according to court documents.

Emily Herx’ grave sin? Trying to conceive through in-vitro fertilization. She asked for time off to have the procedure done. For which, this representation of Christ on earth, Rev. John Kuzmich, told her she was a grave, immoral sinner.

I’m reaching the point where I not only will never rejoin the church, I can’t believe I ever even considered it. Dear Pope Benedict, please enjoy your smaller, purer church. I hope no more members disappoint you.

By the way, I predicted the inevitable Kevin Leininger column defending Kuzmich a few hours ago. I think it’ll be in Saturday’s paper. We’ll see.

It’s been a day for jaw-droppers. For the last few months, a coalition has been gathering signatures, trying to put repeal of the state’s emergency-manager law on the state ballot this fall. They gathered 100,000 more than what they needed, and presented them to the state board of canvassers, which yesterday deadlocked on accepting them, because — get this — the font on the petitions was the wrong size. It had to be 14 point, and there were even printers who testified it was 14 point, but the font was Calibri, which is thinner, and sometimes looks smaller. Too bad! A tied board means it doesn’t pass, and the room erupted — see this nice photo in the News.

Next stop: Court.

Finally, a nice Brian Dickerson column on the final-final denouement of the Case of Little Leo Ratte and the Overzealous Child Protective Services. It’s a good story, and I think we discussed it when it happened: Pop-culture-sheltered U of M professor takes his little boy to a Tigers game and buys him a bottle of lemonade, not knowing that Mike’s brand is the kind with alcohol in it. A security guard sees the boy sipping from it, alerts the fuzz, and the family is swept up in a Kafkaesque nightmare of foster homes, court orders and the like. The family is on the brink of pushing through a law to keep this from happening again. More power, etc.

Finally, another great Sweet Juniper on the fauxtopias of suburban Detroit. Highly recommended.

Happy weekend, all.

Posted at 12:37 am in Current events, Detroit life |

55 responses to “Justice, three ways.”

  1. Dexter said on April 27, 2012 at 1:02 am

    The Fort Wayne South Bend Diocese called it an intringent sin unless I heard it wrong.
    I don’t know much about these situations, it just is sad that a very nice Catholic woman like Emily Herx has to endure such wrath. It seems odd this has never been in the forefront before. My niece is a strict Lutheran, her husband second generation Irish Catholic (ND grad, medical doctor, Royal Academy of Surgeons, Dublin, Ireland), and they now live in Kansas City, and they had to do the in vitro process (luckily his dad is a highly paid Los Angeles cardiologist and paid for this expensive process) .
    Well…after that she has had two more babies, sans in vitro…just the natural process. She needed that “kick start” however.

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  2. JWfromNJ said on April 27, 2012 at 2:38 am

    I’m a little peeved at Fort Wayne’s IPFW Tapestry for Women event – their 2012 keynote speaker is Patricia Heaton.

    An open letter to IPFW in Fort Wayne:
    Your choice of Patricia Heaton as a keynote speaker at the Tapestry for Women event is in very poor taste. Her remarks on student Sandra Fluke showed a support for the misogynistic and myopic views of radio host Rush Limbaugh and with so many other positive role models for women available, including Ms. Fluke, IPFW has shown a general lack of understanding of the assault on women’s rights in this era of right wing close mindedness. You’re feeding into the rise of the American Taliban and the systematic dumbing down of our society. This choice has detracted from whatever the Tapestry event was intended to do and helped reinforce the stereotype of Fort Wayne as a cultural backwater that is out of touch with the present day. Everybody may love Raymond but many people do not love Ms. Heaton or her views.

    There were other views in opposition posted on the Fort Wayne Airport website – which featured a pic of air service development director Dave Young with Heaton. Clue me in but unless I want to fly an extra flight on an established route from Dallas or Minneapolis, or another Allegiant flight, what had Dave Young done? No LCC, No jet blue, virgin america, no direct flight to New York’s jfk, LGA, or EWR, but we can hand out free cookies to Patricia Heaton. IPFW really picked a stinker for their 2012 event but it fits with the bassackwards nature of the city and IPFW in general.

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  3. Deborah said on April 27, 2012 at 4:51 am

    OK, I’m confused. What does the Cathlic Church find immoral about invitro fertilization? I thought they wanted people to have babies?

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  4. Linda said on April 27, 2012 at 5:15 am

    Well, Deborah, here it is from the horse’s mouth:

    In No. 2377, the Catechism explains why the Church opposes methods that separate marital love-making from baby-making.
    They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children. Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses’ union.

    So there. If you go on the internets, you will find lots of defenders of the church for this firing, and they are the usual suspects: if you don’t want to work for an employer who will can you for (fill in the soul-killing blank), then you should have worked somewhere else. Tough luck. The church thinks that if it sides with the loudest, most regressive politicians, they can win their argument in the court of public opinion. OTOH, the loudest, most regressive politicians think that if they cover themselves with the argument of “religious freedom,” they get the moral cover of faith. They are both wrong. The church is slimed by its association with misogyny. And people don’t have to jump on internet threads and fight. They can just walk away.

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  5. Deborah said on April 27, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Well if that’s what they call “the proper perfection… the specific act of the spouses’ union” then why do they say what they say about morning after contraception for rape or incest? Any births resulting from those acts would be far from proper perfection. What a slippery slope.

    Stories like this coming out in an election year, just widen the gender gap and favor the democrats. I hope they keep getting brought to light.

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  6. alex said on April 27, 2012 at 8:07 am

    I think the Tapestry event has been co-opted by right-wingers like just about everything else. I guess it reeked too much of feminism because of past speakers like Linda Ellerbee. If Heaton’s a hit, maybe next year they’ll try for Mona Charen. Or maybe even Phyllis Schlafly. This event, by the way, is meant to benefit a women’s scholarship program.

    Regarding the in vitro hullabaloo, it struck me, too, that if people are making babies the church ought to be delighted—especially if it doesn’t involve the act of fornication. Wasn’t Jesus supposed to have been conceived without anyone doing the nasty?

    The church doesn’t need any help getting purer or smaller. Bishops are now going on trial for the pedophile coverup and it’s like a Protestant reformation all its own. People are exiting the pews in droves, some in favor of high-tech smoke and mirrors at the big box megachurches instead of the old abstract, figurative kind.

    Of course, I’ve always viewed religion as a primitive explanation of the world and its teachings an ever-evolving passel of hastily concocted, implausible stories to counteract such discoveries as the world not being flat. Why anyone would cling to it in this enlightened age is utterly baffling as far as I’m concerned. The only people who ever demand that you take things completely on faith are clergy and those selling things like annuities and time shares and off-brand vacuums.

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  7. Joe Kobiela said on April 27, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Jw from NJ
    Ill be glad to take you where ever you need to go.
    Pilot Joe

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  8. Peter said on April 27, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Well, I vented about this yesterday, and at least the article cleared up for me how the clergy found out about it.

    I can’t add anything to the discussion, but if I may digress: when you read the comments on articles such as this one and the one on ND professors signing a petition calling out a bishop for comparing Obama to Hitler and Stalin, a common theme among many commenters is that the articles are further evidence of Catholic bashing, and that Catholics are unfairly being persecuted for their faith. Oh boo hoo, the evil liberal lame stream media is making fun of us! Oh, how we suffer for our faith! Geez, they ought to grow a pair and shut up.

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  9. beb said on April 27, 2012 at 9:17 am

    There’s no logic to religious opinions so trying to find the logic in something a priest says is a waste of time. As I recall the Catholic Church is opposed to gay marriage because it is a marriage without any chance of children. So you would think that the church would therefore favor any procedure that would lead a childless couple to having children, because the point of marriage is to have children. Obviously I’m missing something. Maybe it’s the notion that woman can do something without the direct intervention of men. As in “who needs a man when you’ve got a turkey baster…”

    The “smaller, purer church” quote would seem to be a (technically) misquote but like Romney’s “I like firing people” seems to hit a different nail right on the head. It does seem like the Catholic leadership would like to purge it’s flock of dangerous, liberal thought.

    Personally I like to remove all tax-exemptions from religious organizations. Sure this would devastate a lot of churches but if their religion were any good they would find the money to pay their bills.

    Arguing over the font size of a petition seems to me the last refuge of the corrupt lawyer. Is 13.6 points close enough to 14 or does it have to be 14.000? And what about a font like Garamond with uses smaller letter with more spacing between rows? In any case it seems that when it comes to public petition the board ought to error on the side of the public. Put the petition on the ballot and let the public decide the matter. When it comes to a 2-2 deadlock the ruling should be the petition passes rather than it dies. But then the last thing a professional politician wants is democracy, It’s too uncertain,

    Greenfield Village is a lovely strange little place. Friends of ours like to go for walks there because it’s pleasant to look around and it’s safe. They drive 30 miles to find a safe place to walk…. Our family goes there a lot, too, so the irony is widely spread.

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  10. brian stouder said on April 27, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Just read Nancy’s link to the (genuinely troubling) article about the now-thwarted popular uprising against Michigan’s Emergency Manager law.


    Anyone who buys into “American Exceptionalism” might rethink that purchase, after reading that article

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  11. nancy said on April 27, 2012 at 9:34 am

    The thing is, though, that the EFM law is not universally reviled. The liberal Free Press editorial board supports it, and for all Rachel Maddow’s yammering about democracy being thwarted, it’s not a bad law. A weaker form of it has been in effect for years, and the newer version puts teeth into it. Basically, it says that after a designated period of financial instability in a governmental unit — I think it’s five years — from city to school board and beyond, the state can step in and clean house. Believe me, there are many, MANY governmental agencies in Michigan that have been run so badly, for so long, that an EFM is what they need. Yes, they can do all those awful things Rachel has been wringing her hands over — break contracts, fire the city council, etc. But these are temporary. The guy in Benton Harbor is actually bringing order to chaos. It hasn’t been pretty, but it’s not as though these councils, mayors, etc., didn’t see it coming. This is not a right-wing takeover of the People. It’s just tough medicine that some people don’t want to take.

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  12. Bob (not Greene) said on April 27, 2012 at 9:37 am


    I guess I’d be more sympathetic to all those brave souls who want to stand up for Sec. 2377-1.a.2 of the Complete Zoning Code for Catholicism if those same souls summoned the same outrage when it came to their clerics buggering the children of the faithful. Having belonged to a parish where one of these perverts ended up, I’ll tell you how much of a “grave, immoral sin” the leadership thought pedophilia was — they just swept it under the rug and sent the dude to another place he could defile.

    The latest guy they sent the parish is a full-on Latin Mass, Catholics-are-under-attack-from-the-scary-world loon. I don’t even recognize the place anymore.

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  13. Connie said on April 27, 2012 at 9:40 am

    My in-laws are very active in the Methodist church, governance, camp management and peace programs, which appears to actually mean supporting the Palestinians. They talk about the church’s commitment to tolerance, diversity and peace. So I was surprised to learn that at this week’s general conference the big question is whether to continue to make the statement that homosexuality is incompatible with christian teachings. This has been discussed and voted on for years, and there is no consensus on how the vote may go.

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  14. brian stouder said on April 27, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Nancy – do you take requests?

    Because if you do (“Deee Jaaay!”), I request a multi-part Bridge treatment of this Emergency Manager thing.

    I would read it avidly, and we can all volunteer to bombard Rachel with emails linking to it; I bet you would end up live-linked onto her show to discuss it.

    Because you are the only person I trust completely, who defends that thing.

    (“Turn it up-dup-dup-dup, DeeJay!”)

    edit: You could title it “What does Maddow Know?” or some such

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  15. Bob (not Greene) said on April 27, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Oh, look what I found. Must be old news, right? No, it was published at 6 a.m. today. Let’s investigate the nuns, though.


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  16. coozledad said on April 27, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Bob(not Greene): Cue the Irish tenor.
    Fall on your a’knees
    Oh hear the angel vices!

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  17. Bitter Scribe said on April 27, 2012 at 11:02 am

    What Nancy says about the EM law makes sense (as always, which is why I hang around here so much). But this font-size thing is outrageous. It calls to mind what some official crook under Daley the Elder said about unapproved voter petitions in Chicago: “I just throw them up to the ceiling, and those that stick are good.”

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  18. Jen said on April 27, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Ooooh, Connie, I’ve been watching the United Methodist General Conference with great interest. I’m a lifelong Methodist and agree with a lot of the church’s teachings, but I’m really not happy with their stance on homosexuality. The problem they’re running into is that it’s almost a certainty that homosexuality will split the church, just like slavery did, and they’re really trying not to do that. Plus, they’re worried about what a pro-homosexuality vote will do for the Methodist Church in Africa and the Philippines, where homosexuality is criminalized. The principled part of me says, “Screw it!” but the fact of the matter is, United Methodists in Africa and the Philippines are doing good things and it would be a real shame for an issue to destroy that. As I’ve delved further into the issue, I’ve discovered that, like everything else, it really is more complex than it looks.

    I suspect that, in a split, the church I currently attend will go the anti-homosexuality route, since we live in a pretty conservative small town. However, at some point the denomination needs to shit or get off the pot, because I’m getting mighty tired of their lack of decision on this point. (They have been talking about this issue at General Conferences for, literally, 40 years.) Eventually my husband and I may go to a more decisively pro-gay church whether the Methodists make a decision or not.

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  19. nancy said on April 27, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Yes, I should have added: The font-size thing is outrageous. More than that, it’s chickenshit. Chickenshit and outrageous.

    Brian, here’s the deal about the EMF law: Like everything on the political chessboard, it’s become one of the pieces. There are people in the state who will speak loudly against it — because they know it’s expected of them — who are quietly rooting for their city to get one, for the obvious reason. They’re no longer the bad guy. Let someone else screw over the union and do the dirty work.

    I would guardedly support it in the case of Detroit. As we have seen over, and over, and over-to-the-300th-power again, the current political leadership in Detroit cannot fix its problems. Maybe they’re too big to be fixed. But let’s bring in Godzilla and see if we can make any progress.

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  20. DellaDash said on April 27, 2012 at 11:11 am

    In the dry, dry desert of info-tech minutiae, whenever you’re generating legal or government documents, you must comply, not only with font size(s), but style (serifs are often verboten, so anything ‘sans’ is required). Margin width can also come into play.

    Clever loophole! Makes me think of hanging chads.

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  21. nancy said on April 27, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Oh, and Deborah asks: Well if that’s what they call “the proper perfection… the specific act of the spouses’ union” then why do they say what they say about morning after contraception for rape or incest? Any births resulting from those acts would be far from proper perfection. What a slippery slope.

    The one-true doesn’t support morning-after contraception. Or any contraception. Your rape-baby is innocent. Suck it up.

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  22. Peter said on April 27, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Re: the font size issue: Welcome to Chicago! That kind of technicality is a big deal here, where people have been thrown off the ballot for, among other things: having the documents bound instead of stapled, having the staple in the wrong place, having uneven margins, having different sized margins on different pages, the person circulating the petitions using different colored ink to sign each page, and I could go on.

    It’s a booming business for lawyers and consultants, and it’s just one of many reasons why it costs so darned much to run for anything these days.

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  23. Judybusy said on April 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    I really just love alex’s observation that baby Jesus resulted from immaculate conception, not a human act of love. So how come that’s OK? Huh? alex, I’m right there with you with puzzlement at the whole religion attraction. I know people argue it does some good, but looking at the history of the world in the last 2500 years, a lot of hateful things have been done in the name of various religions.

    Something has happened to my partner’s brother in the last year: he’s become a Rand Paul fan (to the point of being a delegate for him at the MN convention) and has become convinced Christianity is under attack. I finally hid him on my FB stream after one too many crazy postings.

    In other news, I finally figured out the gravatar thing.

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  24. Connie said on April 27, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Judybusy, my best friend forever has unexpectedly become a Rand Paul fan and has posted a few Nobama things on her facebook page. We are blaming it on the Chantix.

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  25. Prospero said on April 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm


    I’m no fan of Bill Maher, but this is pretty damned funny.

    Y’know, Della, in the end, the hanging chads didn’t mean dick. Scalia and Long Dong, the great originalists, defenders of states rights, said FLA law didn’t mean dick, and ended the recount. Gee thanks for eight years of PNAC stupidity and Blackwater and Halliburton running the government you aholes. Sort of like SCOTUS as EMF. With the Brooks Bros. rioters.

    When in doubt, go Tahoma, or Garamond.

    What did that idiot think the HARD in Mike’s Hard Lemonade meant.

    EMF? Il Duce. We can make the trains run on time. Conservatives are all about local government and control, until they aren’t any more.

    A favorite poem, that I can recite from memory:

    A Visit To The Asylum

    Once from a big, big building,
    When I was small, small,
    The queer folk in the windows
    Would smile at me and call.

    And in the hard wee gardens
    Such pleasant men would hoe:
    “Sir, may we touch the little girl’s hair!”—
    It was so red, you know.

    They cut me coloured asters
    With shears so sharp and neat,
    They brought me grapes and plums and pears
    And pretty cakes to eat.

    And out of all the windows,
    No matter where we went,
    The merriest eyes would follow me
    And make me compliment.

    There were a thousand windows,
    All latticed up and down.
    And up to all the windows,
    When we went back to town,

    The queer folk put their faces,
    As gentle as could be;
    “Come again, little girl!” they called, and I
    Called back, “You come see me!”

    Edna St. Vincent Millay, flaming redhead.

    And wouldn’t normal people, confronted with the wrong font, simply require reprinting it in WingDings or Comic Sans, or whatever else seemed suitable.

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  26. Bitter Scribe said on April 27, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Nancy’s link about the “smaller but purer church” goes to someone who contends it refers to an alleged desire by the Pope to make the Church not be so obsessed with institutional power and prestige, especially from a nationalist perspective. The money quote:

    [T]he church would do better to shed bricks and mortar–universities, hospitals, parochial schools, and the like–rather than have them animated by anything less than a purely orthodox faith.

    According to the author, the Pope was informed in this by the bureaucratic caution, if not sloth, that prevented the Church from opposing the Nazis more forcefully.

    That sounds good, but it’s all speculation. There’s a reason religion often centers around figures who speak rarely and cryptically: It lets the faithful read whatever they want to read into the utterances.

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  27. Joe Kobiela said on April 27, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    By the by, that Jen up there @ 18 is mine.
    Proud Pilot Joe

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  28. Rana said on April 27, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    I have to say, anyone who thinks that an in vitro procedure is not an expression of marital devotion has no idea of what’s involved. To my mind, a couple who goes through multiple expensive and invasive procedures, weeks and weeks of painful daily injections, all for the faint hope of conceiving, is arguably more dedicated to each other and to the future child than a couple for whom reproduction is a matter of pleasure and an oops moment at the wrong time of her cycle.

    They may say their prohibitions are about spousal love and dedication, but I suspect it’s really a disapproval of the “playing God” aspect of it, which is applied with great aggression to all medical matters involving reproduction (specifically the female side of it). Oddly enough, male reproductive issues, and other medical issues (say, a heart transplant) are somehow not “playing God” and are therefore okay.

    But asking religion to make sense is a fool’s game; it’s intrinsically not about making sense – if it was, the role of faith in the face of disbelief wouldn’t be so vital. (I don’t mean this as a condemnation of religion, though some may see it as such, but rather a simple statement of how, for me, it works. It’s about trusting in something that can’t be shown through reason or logic. Unfortunately, it’s when that attitude turns to insistence and laws imposed on non-believing people that we get into trouble.)

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  29. Prospero said on April 27, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Ronnie Hawkins discussing Levon Helm.

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  30. Dexter said on April 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    This little item was heard on a news channel, and not on a sports break.
    A baseball player, visiting New York, was locked up while “very intoxicated” and arrested and charged with a hate crime.
    The accused is Detroit Tiger Delmon Young, the incident occurred outside his 6th Avenue hotel, with plenty of speaking witnesses, who were outraged.
    The report on the radio said he was screaming anti-semitic epithets at a Jewish man.

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  31. Jeff Borden said on April 27, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Despite 10 full years of Catholic school and a brief flirtation with the idea of becoming a priest in the 6th grade –I was even a member of the Future Priests of America– I have come to the same conclusion as Alex. This stuff hasn’t worked for me for years. If others find solace and strength in religion, wonderful. But far too often faith is used as a mace to smash others whose viewpoints are different or, in my case, ambivalent.

    It’s a shame. The words of Christ are indeed inspiring and if his followers truly took them to heart, this world might indeed be a much better place, regardless of whether Jesus is the son of God or simply a righteous man. Instead, all manner of horrors are perpetrated in his name.

    A popular T-shirt for sale years ago at the Halsted Street Market Days –which is located in the heart of Boy’s Town and is something of a gay mardi gras– read: “Jesus, Protect Me From Your Followers.”

    I wish I’d bought one, though a good Christian would probably pound me into pulp if they saw me wearing it.

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  32. Jolene said on April 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Font size is an issue in the world of competitive grant-getting too, because grant-seekers would otherwise use micro-fonts to squeeze all their brilliant arguments into the allotted number of pages. During my stint as a communication analyst at a public policy think tank, we all became experts at editing paragraphs to take out lines without much changing the text, thereby permitting us to meet page limits in text of the required size.

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  33. Prospero said on April 27, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Artificial insemination.

    Jeff, you know what Gandhi said about appreciating Christ but not being thrilled with Christians.

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  34. Julie said on April 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Indiana now has vouchers for parents to send their students to private schools, and the Catholic schools eagerly lobbied for this. St. Vincent de Paul in Fort Wayne accepted $102,036.44 in state funds this year for students to attend their school. I am not an attorney, but I would say this obligates them to follow Indiana state discrimination law, which I understand is pretty similar to federal law. It seems timing is everything in the law (recall Lily Ledbetter)and I have not seen exactly when this teacher was fired. In state court this should be a loser, in my opinion. This is one of those “strings attached” situations that may give the Catholic church pause in their zest for school vouchers.

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  35. Prospero said on April 27, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Dexter: Delmon and his brother Dmitri have long been known for being a few bricks short of Milton Bradley’s mental health.

    Scroll down to the video to see Delmon in action, throwing a bat at an ump.

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  36. CindyL said on April 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Julie @34, Exactly. The Catholic Church wants the government to stay out of its business, but eagerly accepts government money. Also, if they justify firing this woman because she went against Church doctrine in seeking in vitro fertilization, doesn’t it follow logically that all employees who have had vacectomies or use contraception should be fired as well? It really bothers me that she did the right thing and told her supervisor — was honest and upfront — and got fired anyway. Apparently another teacher at the school was the one who told the priest.

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  37. Jolene said on April 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    It will be interesting to see what happens if the FW teacher decides to sue. In a recent Supreme Court case, the justices held that employees engaged in ministry can’t sue for employment discrimination, as the church has the right to determine who its ministers will be and how they will minister. This woman, however, was engaged in secular functions w/in the institution, i.e., she was not teaching religion classes or anything of the sort.

    As you all have said, it’s remarkable how un-Christlike this firing is. Organizations have to have rules and boundaries, I suppose, but it would be a better world if, instead of seeking rule-following, church officials asked themselves, “What is the compassionate response? How can we minister to this individual?” Firing someone who is already suffering hardly seems like what Jesus would do.

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  38. DellaDash said on April 27, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    On the poetry front…

    I don’t get to just sail up to a podium on a stage and perform for a captive audience. First thing this morning I had to put together a short bio, chop chop. Here’s what’ll show up on the program:

    Born and raised in Davenport, Iowa, Della moved to Nashville in 2004 for a 6-week programming contract, and decided to stay. Before that, she’s resided in California, Washington, Oregon, Arkansas, Vermont, Texas, Florida, and Jamaica. She believes she has local roots because she’s seen a picture of her maternal great-grandfather in a hat and baggy suit, standing next to his mule; who supposedly migrated to the boot-hills of Arkansas from Tennessee.

    Kim, I like ‘The Paradox of Time’ for personal reflection, but can’t summon up enough gravitas on the subject for this occasion. On the other hand, here are a few from Ted Kooser I’m considering:

    After Years

    “Today, from a distance, I saw you
    walking away, and without a sound
    the glittering face of a glacier
    slid into the sea. An ancient oak
    fell in the Cumberlands, holding only
    a handful of leaves, and an old woman
    scattering corn to her chickens looked up
    for an instant. At the other side
    of the galaxy, a star thirty-five times
    the size of our own sun exploded
    and vanished, leaving a small green spot
    on the astronomer’s retina
    as he stood on the great open dome
    of my heart with no one to tell.”

    Flying at Night

    “Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
    Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
    like a snowflake falling on water. Below us,
    some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death,
    snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn
    back into the little system of his care.
    All night, the cities, like shimmering novas,
    tug with bright streets at lonely lights like his.”


    “There’s never an end to dust
    and dusting,” my aunt would say
    as her rag, like a thunderhead,
    scudded across the yellow oak
    of her little house. There she lived
    seventy years with a ball
    of compulsion closed in her fist,
    and an elbow that creaked and popped
    like a branch in a storm. Now dust
    is her hands and dust her heart.
    There’s never an end to it.”

    The Richard Brautigans:

    A Boat

    “O beautiful
    was the werewolf
    in his evil forest.
    We took him
    to the carnival
    and he started
    when he saw
    the Ferris wheel.
    green and red tears
    flowed down
    his furry cheeks.
    He looked
    like a boat
    out on the dark

    The Winos on Potrero Hill

    “Alas, they get
    their bottles
    from a small
    neighborhood store.
    The old Russian
    sells them port
    and passes no moral
    judgement. They go
    and sit under
    the green bushes
    that grow along
    the wooden stairs.
    They could almost
    be exotic flowers,
    they drink so


    “Piano tree, play
    in the dark concert halls
    of my uncle,
    twenty-six years old, dead
    and homeward bound
    on a ship from Sitka,
    his coffin travels
    like the fingers
    of Beethoven
    over a glass
    of wine.

    Piano tree, play
    in the dark concert halls
    of my uncle,
    a legend of my childhood, dead,
    they send him back
    to Tacoma.
    At night his coffin
    travels like the birds
    that fly beneath the sea,
    never touching the sky.

    Piano tree, play
    in the dark concert halls
    of my uncle,
    take his heart
    for a lover
    and take his death
    for a bed,
    and send him homeward bound
    on a ship from Sitka
    to bury him
    where I was born.”

    From ‘The Collected Works of Billy The Kid’:

    “You know hunters
    are the gentlest
    anywhere in the world

    they halt caterpillars
    from path dangers
    lift a drowning moth from a bowl
    remarkable in peace

    in the same way assassins
    come to chaos neutral”

    “One morning woke up
    Charlie was cooking
    and we ate not talking
    but sniffing wind
    wind so fine
    it was like drinking ether

    we sat hands round knees
    heads leaned back taking lover wind
    in us sniffing and sniffing
    getting high on the way
    it crashed into our nostrils”

    Plenty of material to choose from for a pocketful of almost-twitter-length pieces that I can probably manage not to mangle…but it’s off to Parnassus, now, to continue my mission.

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  39. Deborah said on April 27, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Della, I had not heard of Ted Kooser before your comment. I Googled him, very impressive, I like his work a lot. I wish I was more knowledgeable about poetry, another thing I hope to get up to speed on when I retire. There is a new building designed by a friend of my husband, here in Chicago for the Poetry Foundation, on the corner of Dearborn and Superior.

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  40. Linda said on April 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Julie: when Indiana passed that law conservatives had a FIT over the idea that the state would dare have any say over educational standards for schools receiving vouchers. I pointed out in a thread that without such, some self styled Marxist academy could get voucher cash;how would they feel about that?

    As expected–crickets.

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  41. DellaDash said on April 27, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Deb – Kim introduced me to Ted Kooser on yesterday’s thread.

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  42. CindyL said on April 27, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Best, most insightful article I’ve read yet on this in vitro/Emily Herx issue. More priests should be as smart as this one. http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/04/should-catholic-schools-be-able-to-fire-teachers-over-fertility-treatments/256427/

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  43. Jolene said on April 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Y’all know how much I admire Ta-Nehisi Coates. Just want to draw your attention to this lovely piece re how he feels re how he grew up. A wonderful description of how our relations with others make our lives, regardless of the community in which those lives are lived. His memoir is terrific. If you haven’t read it already, add it to your list.

    Have a good weekend, everybody.

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  44. brian stouder said on April 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    And you, too, Jolene

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  45. Prospero said on April 27, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Today is Kate Pierson’s birthday.


    I never had any idea that the Catholic Church disaapproves of artificial insemination. I suspect most practicing Catholics are taken by surprise by the Herx story.

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  46. brian stouder said on April 27, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Prospero, I had an extended conversation about that with a very nice fellow at lunch today, who works at our local Catholic university. He took the staunchly conservative position, as I nattered on about how ridiculous the whole thing struck me.

    My friend seems always to be 10-15 years ahead of me politically; which is to say that as I have ‘evolved’ (or careened!) from one general position to the next, he’s always been where I’m headed.

    Currently, he’s solidly pro-Obama, and staunchly on the side of the One True…so who knows what the portends for me, when I hit retirement age.

    Say, I just finished Nancy’s link to Sweet Juniper, and I found the essay interesting. He’s awfully hard on Greenfield Village, even as he is glancingly complimentary to the Henry Ford Museum. I think the point he (eventually) makes is a good one; a worthwhile “museum” indeed should cause one to “muse” – and an organized place (like the Henry Ford Museum) will conduct and direct that sense to some larger theme.

    This is where I think he’s unfair to Greenfield (repeatedly calling it false and fictional and faux and a place that harkens to a time that never was); Greenfield is no more thematic and contrived than any museum – and it makes a huge impression on the young folks.

    The scattered historic buildings and so on, that stand here and there without any context are another matter, but that’s not Greenfield.

    Anyway – just sayin’. (and indeed, our crew still hopes to visit Greenfield and the Henry Ford sometime in the next month)

    edit – and here is a terrible article that touches on where old-time traditional ways meet modernity. I could never be a ‘police’ (as Laura Lippman would say) or an EMT – this must have been a terrible scene, when they first got there:


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  47. Chris in Iowa said on April 27, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Ted Kooser is a wonderful writer and a really nice guy — and a native Iowan, too. I’ve actually been a guest at his house and seen the office where he writes. His wife, Kathleen, is one of my former bosses. They are a great couple.

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  48. coozledad said on April 27, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    I was trying to think of how Fox and Friends would try to spin this.
    Obama’s minions made sure the Otterbein campus was flooded with ludes?

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  49. brian stouder said on April 27, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    Cooz – that was a great link, and the video clip is flat-out good stuff.

    On one hand, I suspect that we will view this election (in hindsight) as over-kill; Obama almost seems to be cruelly enjoying rocking and rolling his audiences (and the electorate).

    On the other hand, one look at Romney’s go-to-hell brand of capitalism, and completely selfish “I got mine” appeals to the ‘have’s and the ‘have-more’s (as Ed says), war-war worldview, and I say – the Obama-Biden ought to see just how damned high they can MAKE THE RUBBLE BOUNCE, in November 2012!

    I hope Romney does so poorly that he drags down the ticket in the various Senate races, not even to mention the House.

    The parlor game really begins when he picks a running-mate. I think he almost certainly HAS to select a woman, and that she must be nationally known. Kaye Bailey Hutchinson leaps to mind, or even Condi Rice; much as a person like me might disagree with those women, they’re the real deal.

    But if he picks some boring ass white man, or (worse) an incompetent woman (like the governor of South Carolina), then I think he’ll win maybe 6 states in the whole union.

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  50. Connie said on April 28, 2012 at 10:25 am

    WASHINGTON — Under heavy pressure from farm groups, the Obama administration said Thursday it would drop an unpopular plan to prevent children from doing hazardous work on farms owned by anyone other than their parents.

    The Labor Department said it is withdrawing proposed rules that would ban children younger than 16 from using most power-driven farm equipment, including tractors. The rules also would prevent those younger than 18 from working in feed lots, grain bins and stockyards. http://www.eschatonblog.com/2012/04/in-defense-of-child-labor.html

    I picked blueberries for 9 cents a pound at the age of 12 and 13. That’s been illegal for years now.

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  51. Bob (Not Greene) said on April 28, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Connie, the right wingers, courtesy of such places as Daily Caller, have been turning cartwheels over this issue lately. Consistently they have been intentionally misleading people by saying Obama wanted to ban farm chores for kids who live on family farms, even though the legislation specifically exempted family farms. This law wasn’t supposed to prevent Dorothy from slopping the hogs for Auntie Em, it was to protect young Jose from dying in a silo accident over at Miss Gulch’s. But enough rubes got huffy that Obama actually backed down, even though the basis of the complaint was pure bullshit. So, more youngsters are free to be endangered. Congrats, GOP!

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  52. Dexter said on April 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Here’s the hot skinny on the drunken Detroit Tiger…

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  53. Connie said on April 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Bob ng I posted that because someone had posted about it in the comments recently. My friend recently sent me something about Obama passing a law the blocked the free speech rights of protestors. I looked it up and it was way less than she implied. Applied only to certain federal sites when the secret service was present to protect someone. Comparable to the banning farm chores charges.

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  54. brian stouder said on April 28, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Obama passing a law the blocked the free speech rights of protestors.

    Surely, that’s not new; I recall Secret Service designated protest areas when President Cheney/Bush was in office

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  55. beb said on April 29, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I grew up on a farm, a very small farm but we had all sorts of hazardous equipment there, like sickle-bar mowers. And… well that was about the most dangerous. We had a contractor come in with his hay bailer and harvest combine. The bailer took power from the tractor through the power take-off so there was a rotating shaft from the end of the tractor to the machinery of the bailer. In a factory OSHA would have required an wire cage to surround the shaft. But you can’t make tight turns on a tractor with any kind of wire cage. The compromise was a rolling sleeve over the shaft. The problem is that mowers, bailers, combines all get plugged from time to time and the knot of plant material has to be dug out by hand. Some people think they can fix the problem without turning off the power…. Other things on farms that are dangerous are silos (confined spaces, ie lack of oxygen) augers, and conveyer belts. Even climbing a ladder into a hay mow can be dangerous. My parents were always pretty responsible about teaching us safety when using farm equipment and didn’t let us use the really dangerous stuff until we were old enough to know what we were doing. Do it’s easy, in the rush of harvest time, to forget about safety in the need to get stuff done. That’s why you need a law that says kids can’t do that.

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