On Defying the Majority When They Are Wrong

“The majority can often be wrong.”  ~ Charlan Nemeth John Mulaney’s grandmother is my new hero. I admit it’s an odd claim because I don’t know much about her—not even her name. But, based on John’s testimony, I know this much: His grandmother is no respecter of persons. She cares not a speck for popular … Read more

Note to Pollsters: What “Practicing Catholic” Really Means

First consideration is due to the offspring, which many have the boldness to call the disagreeable burden of matrimony.  ~ Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii If someone says “practicing Catholic,” what do you think of? If your first thought it involved Mass attendance, you’d be in good company. Pollsters and pundits tend to clump Catholics into … Read more

More Reasons Why the Pill Can’t Be Used Against the Zika Virus

Much has already been written about Pope Francis’s controversial comments during his in-flight press conference traveling back to Rome from Mexico where he seemed to suggest that recourse to contraception could be a morally licit way to prevent the transmission of the Zika virus—with its possible yet still unproven link to microcephaly. He even tried to support … Read more

Some Compelling Evidence of the Pill’s Harmful Effects

Because of these substances, Lance Armstrong’s cycling victories were taken from him and he was disqualified from further competition; Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire were publicly reprimanded; numerous congressional hearings were held to assign blame regarding their use. We do our best to protect athletes from these dangerous substances while, at the same time, encouraging … Read more

To be Serious About Contraception

What is a faithful Catholic to do about contraception in a culture awash in them? Are we to make them a political issue, as some kind of prophetic cri du cœur? Should we launch a campaign to overturn Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court decision that made married contraception a constitutional right, or campaign to … Read more

Natural Family Planning, Providence, and the Goal of Marriage

The great NFP debate would be greatly helped by some serious reflections on ends: teleology, as the philosophers like to say. On one side stand the Providentialists.  At their more strident, they accuse NFP users of a “contraceptive mentality.”  Just because periodic abstinence (the means) is legitimate doesn’t mean that its every use is appropriate.  Some … Read more

Why is NFP not Contraception?

It all boils down to one central feature: NFP isn’t artificial. Still, that simple fact won’t silence most objectors. “If you’re trying not to get pregnant, then isn’t that basically the same as using a condom? The result is the same; what’s the difference?” There are surely selfish ways to employ natural family planning—just as selfish … Read more

NFP: The Myth of the “Contraceptive Mentality”

A recent Sunday was designated by the bishops of the United States as “Respect Life Sunday.” As we pray and work for an end to abortion, it is well to remember that there is a profound connection between the prominent use of birth control in a nation and the legalization of abortion: As Pope Paul … Read more

Five Ways I Don’t Love Natural Family Planning

I don’t want to write about NFP. I hate to write about NFP. And yet, here I am…writing about NFP. I brought this on myself. I completely forgot about an editorial deadline and found myself scrambling for a column topic at about 10:00 p.m. Naturally, I turned to my dear friends, Mrs. Twitter and Mr. … Read more

A Spoonful of Splenda

I often wonder, writing here, what possible expertise I have to offer. I’m not a theologian, so my take on deeper issues is by necessity secondhand. My knowledge of Catholic history is wide-ranging but thin — and focused disconcertingly on religious orders that brew beer, make wine, or invented distinctive liqueurs. (Surely there’s much to … Read more

No Petty Virtues

Some time ago, an online discussion of NFP took an interesting turn. I remember it especially because I got off a pretty good zinger. (And that’s what we Catholic bloggers do to advance the kingdom of God: We zing people.) The Other Guy’s argument went like this: Sure, sure, the Church permits NFP to space … Read more

Spreading the gospel of NFP in Peru

Fr. Philip Bloom of Washington state has a special mission to the people of Peru: He’s teaching them Natural Family Planning.  The Mary Bloom Center, in the highlands city of Puno, near Peru’s Lake Titicaca, is named after Fr. Bloom’s mother. He began the center’s work during his years as a Maryknoll priest associate in … Read more

Reconsidering the Pill

New York magazine has a surprisingly good article on the little-discussed consequences of the Pill that will have every Catholic woman wanting to yell “I TOLD YOU SO” at her computer. (Or was that just me?) After opening with a description of the Pill’s 50th anniversary gala earlier this year (and really, the details of … Read more

Talking Frankly about Ecological Breastfeeding

I’m reading books to my older girls when my 16 month old starts opening and closing her chubby hands (the sign for “milk”; lest you be too impressed, she knows about four signs: “book,” “more,” “milk,” and “please,” all the important things in life). “Maa! Maa!” (her word for milk) she says emphatically, hands still … Read more

‘Tiresome’ anti-torturers

James H. at the Opinionated Catholic blog earlier this month had a friendly word of advice to Catholics who vocally oppose waterboarding and comparable forms of “enhanced interrogation”: stop acting like jerks. Without arguing pro- or con- (he seems to be wrestling with the question),  James gives the Catholic anti-waterboarding crowd a “huge ol’ fat … Read more

Making Babies: A Very Different Look at Natural Family Planning

Natural family planning (NFP) needs a slogan, because as a “product” — if I might adopt business-speak — it’s not selling too well. According to some surveys, about 90 percent of professed Catholics reject the Church’s teaching on birth control. Even among priests, fewer than one in three considers artificial contraception to be “always” sinful. … Read more

Is NFP Misogynous? A Point/Counterpoint

Is Natural Family Planning a misogynous burden on women… or is it actually liberating? Marjorie Campbell and Kate Wicker discuss the question. We present a point/counterpoint on the question, “Is Natural Family Planning Misogynous?” Marjorie Campbell takes the affirmative while Kate Wicker argues the negative. Please feel free to continue the discussion in the Comments … Read more

Losing Your Temperance

Some virtues get a bad name because of the ways their names are used. For instance, the mighty, cosmic force St. Thomas calls Charity, which Dante said “moves the sun and other stars,” nowadays calls to mind instead a hovercraft full of eels. By which I mean a writhing mass of irrelevant mental images: tax … Read more

Is NFP Catholic Contraception?

“How’d you do it?” I once asked my 87-year-old grandmother, the mother of nine children. “Do what?” Nana asked. “Have nine kids,” I said. (I mean, obviously.) “Oh honey, if God gives you rabbits, then He gives you grass,” was her response. Nana was of the “God Family Planning” mindset. God plans families; couples don’t. … Read more

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