Tag Archives: ethics

Where you send your “ice bucket challenge” donation DOES make a difference

August 30, 2014


If you’ve already gotten in on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge or are planning to, congratulations on your generosity of spirit.

Before you donate, consider the concerns being expressed that the ALS Foundation supports research that uses fetal embryonic tissue from abortions.

Father John Floeder, who teaches bioethics at the St. Paul Seminary and who chairs the Archbishop’s Commission on Bio/Medical Ethics in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, offered the following statement to help people gain a better understanding of the moral and ethical issues involved:

Many human sufferings call out to us for help, and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) is certainly among them.  Jesus Christ and the demands of love must lead us, as Catholics, to give our time, energy, and resources to those who suffer.  The awareness and contributions that have been raised because of the “bucket challenge” are a testament to that love in so many.  That said, authentic Christ-like love never can accept the deliberate taking of one life for the sake of another, which the use of embryonic stem cells does.  To really help the suffering of ALS in a loving way, Catholics should not only support only those organizations that do not use embryonic stem cells, but also express to organizations the need to cease support and funding of practices that use embryonic stem cells that destroys human life.

The U.S. Catholic Conference suggests donating to ALS research at several alternative organizations, including the John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, which is doing research in several areas including ALS, and does not support embryonic stem cell research. To donate, use the button for “Donate Now” on the institute’s main web page.

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Make the choice: Read ‘Little Bee’

August 20, 2014


little bee coverAn old poster, printed graffiti style, claimed “Not to decide is to decide.”

The corollary is that all decisions have consequences. What we choose to do matters.

For the characters of Chris Cleave’s “Little Bee,” deciding as well as not deciding both have life and death implications.

“Little Bee” is a masterfully written novel told from the alternating first-person points of view of a young Nigerian girl — the Little Bee of the title — and the female British magazine executive intent of saving her.

While Cleave obviously is making a statement about England’s policies with regard to those who have come to its shores sans documentation and about the horrors of greed-based, development-driven brutality in Africa, he has so much more to say to make us think about the choices each of us makes.

Do we stay or flee? Do we opt for the present dangers or choose the possibility of dangers unknown?

Do we give in to intolerable demands or face possibly even worse consequences — for us and for others as well?

Do we offer a hand knowing that our doing so may incriminate us?

And what about the other side of the coin?

What will happen if we don’t act?

Will there be dire, even fatal consequences?

And, if we don’t risk putting ourselves in harms way, will we be able to live with ourselves?

No wonder “Little Bee” was a New York Times bestseller. It’s out now as a Simon & Schuster paperback.

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Lay Catholic newsletter recognizes Catholic Spirit’s business leaders program

January 3, 2012

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Leading With Faith, The Catholic Spirit’s annual award program that honors ethical business leaders in the Twin Cities Catholic community, got front-page recognition of its own recently.

Our Leading With Faith Awards was the subject of a page-1 piece in “Initiatives,” the newsletter of the National Center for the Laity.

The article summarized the purpose of the 10-year-old award program, offered profiles of several honorees, and noted the commonalities of the winners, chosen for the way they practice their faith in the marketplace and in their parishes and communities.

It noted: “It is easy to criticize business — especially in the wake of recent financial scandals. It is important, however, to devise forums like The Catholic Spirit’s Leading With Faith that lift up the Christian vocation of business leader — with no pretense of softening up a businessperson for a donation.”

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Taking a hike

March 4, 2011


Those who wish to hunt out of state are starting to make plans now, as they prepare and send applications for license lotteries.

Hunters planning to visit the State of Montana will be in for a shock. Prices for some tags are taking a hike this year — a very big one. Anyone wishing to buy the big game combination license is going to pay $912. That is an increase of 41 percent over last year’s price of $643. That and other tag increases are all part of the state’s Initiative 161 that passed back in November.

Basically, the voters in Montana accomplished two things when they passed the initiative in the fall election: 1. They abolished the tags the state normally gives to outfitters that guaranteed their clients would get a tag when booking hunts with them (5,500 elk and deer tags annually), and, 2. They dramatically increased the price of some nonresident tags to make up for the loss in revenue. The license fee increase is expected to generate an additional $2.2 million in revenue, which the state will use to fund hunter access and habitat improvement.

An article I read online on the website for the Missoulian newspaper gives some background on the previous prices and policy, plus the rationale for proposing the new rule. It was written before the vote, but it helped me understand the issue.

Basically, Montana residents felt like outfitters were locking up too much land, which put a crunch on local hunters wanting access to private land without having to pay the high outfitting fees. Over the last 20-plus years, outfitters have continued to lease more land for their clients, thereby taking away opportunities for those who want to go on self-guided hunts.

I understand and accept the desire to open up more land to hunters, but it seems to me that it’s the nonresidents who will have to pay for that privilege. If it’s the residents who want more land access, why should nonresidents have to pay so much for it?

It’s part of an ongoing philosophy that many states have been adopting in recent years. It goes something like this: We have good hunting in our state, and if you nonresidents want to come here, you’re going to pay through the nose.

It will be interesting to see what the response from nonresident hunters will be. I have heard some comments already. One local conservation leader in Minnesota, Don McMillan (a Catholic, by the way), is outraged over the fee hike and has publicly stated he will not hunt in Montana, even though he has done so for many years.

I do see his point. Someone else argued that sizable chunks of public land in many states belong to the federal government and, thus, to all Americans. Our tax money has gone to pay for and maintain these lands, so why should nonresidents have to pay more?

I’d like to see some balance on the issue. Up until this year, there have traditionally been more applicants than tags in Montana, so the state has been selling all of them. This year, the 5,500 big game outfitter tags will be going into the general lottery, with a total of 17,000 nonresident big game combo tags available in the draw.

I’ll be very curious to see how many hunters apply for these tags this year. I know I won’t. That’s too much money for me. However, my 17-year-old son has applied for the nonresident youth big game combination license, which is sold for half price. We were able to afford it because his grandfather was generous enough to offer to pay for it. Otherwise, he would have planned to buy the $80 whitetail doe tag that I have bought the last two years.

Thankfully, the price of the nonresident whitetail doe (Deer B) license will remain the same, as will antelope tags. There are lots of both in Montana, more than enough to provide some great action. I have filled my doe tags both years, and have seen lots of animals in the process. I enjoy hunting in Montana, and I’m very happy to shoot does.

Residents overwhelming like to shoot bucks, which leaves lots of does left for hunters like me. In fact, the buck-to-doe ratio seems out of balance in my opinion. I’m happy to help solve this problem.

Yet, it would be nice to tag a buck or an elk from time to time. Unfortunately, the high prices of tags are turning it into a sport for the rich, at least in terms of nonresidents.

I wonder if this is what Montana residents want. Maybe so. Or, perhaps more likely, they don’t care what nonresidents have to pay. After all, the fewer nonresidents there are, the less competition for land access they will have.

But, what about all of the businesses that reap financial rewards from nonresidents who come — hotels and motels, gas stations and restaurants, to name a few? They’re probably concerned about a potential drop in out-of-state hunters.

Overall, I’ve been very happy with the Montana hunts I and my boys have had. We’re looking forward to another one this fall. Yet, if I had a chance to talk to people in the state who are responsible for the exorbitant fees, I would simply say:

“C’mon! Is that really fair to charge nearly $1,000 for a big game combination license, when you’re paying less than $100 for it? Please, be reasonable. I like coming to your state and I’m glad to open my wallet to help support your economy. But, I only have so much money to spend. Why not bring the prices back down, so that hunters with more moderate incomes can hunt?”

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Peter Kreeft passes pearls of wisdom to next generation

October 16, 2008


“before i go,”
by Peter Kreeft

Oft-quoted in Catholic circles, Boston College prof Peter Kreeft has compiled 162 — what, statements? pearls of wisdom? life’s lessons? — in a tiny-yet-thick Sheed & Ward book subtitled, “Letters to Our Children about What Really Matters.”

I can say there area 162 of them — whatever you want to call them — because each is numbered.

Few are longer than one page. Most are just a paragraph or three or four.

And the book’s concept is excellent. How many of us have had that thought that we’d like to get down on paper things we’d like our children to know?

Not 162 great thoughts

I usually love this kind of work, because I can pick it up and read for just the bit of time I might have at that moment and grab a great thought to wrestle with. There are a number of those great thoughts in “before i go,” but there aren’t 162.
And, after hitting a few too many trite ideas among those numbers, I came close to crossing out a few and doing a recount.

I mean, “Stop and smell the roses?” Bet that didn’t take too long to come up with.

“Each day is a gift from God?” I think Sister Jude covered that pretty well in the first grade in 1957.

Tossing out the banal bunch and eliminating some of the really dumb statements would make Kreeft’s work very valuable for personal reflection. The man has a knack for putting ideas in concise, memorable sentences. It’s a real gift. Here are just a few examples:

“It’s better to be happy than to be right.”

“Be good, but be you.”

“All life is liturgy. All words are creeds. All times are Sabbaths. All places are churches.”

Advice worth sharing

And there is great advice, too.

Instead of complaining about how busy you are, simplify reasons for doing anything to three things: because it’s morally good, because its a practical necessity, or because it makes you happy.

Take seven minutes each day to thank God for seven specific things.

“Forgive everyone. Forgive everything. Forgive always. Forgive everywhere.”

Kreeft gives readers a really good explanation of grace, has a great message on how to respond when we fail — and we all do and will — and this wonderful take on the Beatitudes:

“If the poor are blessed, then let’s stop envying the rich.”


The world isn’t black and white

At times I found Kreeft to be polarizing and divisive. My world just isn’t as black and white as Kreeft’s, and I sure don’t have all the answers, as Kreeft’s writing implies he does.

Although he writes the self-righteous prose of an expert, he takes a cheap shot by demonizing “experts,” for example. And in some of his thoughts he comes off as a prig, making unproven generalizations such as, “they don’t teach the lives of the saints in religion classes anymore.”

That’s pure B.S., and just the kind of false statements that get repeated and repeated until zealots believe them to be true. That’s one statement Kreeft should be ashamed of making.

I like the technique of making lists, to a point, but the list thing gets old after a while. Sometimes, too, others did it better years ago. Take his 10 points of “What is ‘A Good Person?'” The Boy Scouts nailed that concept in their 12-point creed — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent– a list that sounds suspiciously like Kreeft’s 10 thoughts.

It boils down, though, to you gotta take the bad with the good.

You go from No. 105 where the bad Kreeft is saying something as dumb as God is a comedian because he invented dog farts, to the very next page where he suggests we practice everyday what you do and don’t want so say and do on the last day of your life.

Dog farts? I expect better than that. But I forgive him. — bz

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