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Cloudy With a Slight Chance of Reason

I live in Washington State. Born and raised mostly in California, I am a transplant to the Evergreen State and find a lot about life here puzzling. We are one of the most liberal states in the Union. We not only have legalized gay marriage and marijuana use, but also doctor-assisted suicide,. We cannot have phosphates in our dish-washing detergent, but grandma can grow her own pot. And when she gets diagnosed with lung cancer, she can ingest a lethal prescription provided by her doctor.

And Washington is way ahead of Obamacare. Health plans here have been required to cover birth control for years. Our state legislature has even considered expanding that to mandatory abortion coverage. I would not be surprised if in a few years Catholic hospitals in Washington will be required to perform abortions if they want to continue providing actual health care.

I find this all puzzling because, where I live, on the east side of the state, nearly everyone I know is a conservative. We have elected a Republican to the House of Representatives for the last 20 years. Unlike my sister-in-law, who lives in Seattle and now smells that distinctive odor of pot every time she goes on a hike, I have not seen or smelled anymore Mary Jane than before. And in a recent op-ed in a major east side paper, a granddaughter laments that while assisted suicide is legal in Washington, her grandfather could not find a doctor on this side of the state to prescribe the lethal dose.

There is a political line that exists in Washington state. It runs down the Cascade Mountain range that is geographically just east of Seattle. This means that the majority of the area of the state leans conservative. Because most of the population lives west of the Cascades, we all have to endure whatever liberal policies (or President) they vote for.

You could say that liberal ideas cannot rise up and over the Cascade Mountains. Neither can the clouds. Contrary to popular belief, not all of Washington is cloudy and rainy. East of the Cascades, it is mostly dry and sunny. West of the Cascades you get the characteristic, overcast, wet weather for which the Pacific Northwest is famous.

Because I have a lot of family and friends in the Seattle area, over the last 13 years, I have visited the Seattle area countless times for every holiday, graduation, sporting event or party you can imagine. For most of my visits, the California girl in me has found the cloud cover depressing, and I cannot wait to get back to my side of the state. Occasionally the clouds would recede enough to get a glimpse of Mount Rainier, a majestic mountain south of Seattle, but most times Rainier remained obscured.

That brings me to this last Easter. My family and I were visiting my father-in-law who has a high-rise apartment in downtown Seattle. We went to the roof and I saw one of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen.

It was so clear that I could not only see the imposing snow-capped Mount Rainier to the south, but I could see west all the way across the Puget Sound to the splendid, snow-capped Olympic mountain range. Later, when we were traveling north for Easter dinner, the Cascades to the east were also out in all their magnificent glory. We were surrounded on three sides by some of the most beautiful scenery you will find in the United States.

And yet with 226 cloudy days a year, the majority of the time you would never know this beauty was there. Sure enough, on Easter Monday the clouds were back. It was as if someone had taken an eraser to the sky and left a bland canvas of grey. I reminded myself that the beautiful scenery was still there. It was simply obscured.

I realized this was a metaphor for the progressive mind: surrounded by the beauty of Truth but unable to see it most of the time because of cloudy, illogical thinking.

You've heard it already: A human embryo is not a human organism, just a "batch of cells" that magically becomes human at some arbitrary point; Food needs to be organic, free of pesticides, preservatives and other chemicals, but synthetic hormones in the name of reproductive rights are good for women, even those in their teens; Smoking parts of the tobacco plant is super bad for you and everyone around you but smoking parts of the marijuana plant is fine; What the Founding Fathers really meant was "freedom from religion" not "freedom of religion;" Sex is for pleasure and recreation not reproduction even though the organs we use for sex are part of the reproductive system; We don't need to treat pain in the terminally ill, just let them take a lethal dose instead; It is better to violently rip apart a baby in the womb than to allow them to live a life of suffering; Big Government is good, but Big Brother is bad. I could go on for hours.

That weekend I was reminded of David Mamet's book The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture. Mamet, a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, describes himself as a former "brain-dead liberal" and his book is a intellectual treatise far beyond anything I could fully comprehend. But I think it was clear that Mamet thinks the problem with liberalism is that it refuses to see things as they really are, and it chooses instead to prop up beliefs of how things "ought to be." Mamet writes:
This is the essence of Leftist thought. It is a devolution from reason to "belief," in an effort to stave off a feeling of powerlessness. And if government is Good, it is a logical elaboration that more government power is Better. But the opposite is apparent both to anyone who has ever had to deal with Government and, I think, to any dispassionate observer.
Standing on that roof, I realized that just as cloudy skies obscured the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, the upside-down, belief-not-reason-driven, cloudy-thinking of the progressive mind obscures the beauty of the Truth that surrounds them everyday. Not just politically, but spiritually as well.

Everyday since I have prayed for an end to "cloudy with a slight chance of reason" and prayed instead for "sunny and clear" minds. If David Mamet can come out of the fog, maybe others can as well.

Rebecca Taylor blogs at Mary Meets Dolly

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John Howard said...

I agree with everything but I'm a stickler for this grave error that you like to make over and over. An embryo doesn't "magically" become a human person at some arbitrary point, it MIRACULOUSLY becomes a living person when its heart starts pumping blood through its body. Prior to that it is a unique human body developing much like a flower grows from seed, without a soul and without a consciousness and without human life and personhood. It shouldn't be hard to understand if you consider death - the body doesn't have to disappear and return to dust before we declare that the person is gone and their life is over. It is not murder to shoot a corpse, but it is a crime, desecrating a corpse or something like that. In the same way we could have laws respecting the dignity of human bodies prohibiting creating embryos for experimentation without having to declare embryos to be living persons.

CatholicGuy said...

>An embryo doesn't "magically" become a human person at some arbitrary point, it MIRACULOUSLY becomes a living person when its heart starts pumping blood through its body.

This is pretty hilarious. Well done.

Sophia's Favorite said...

Isn't that cute? John Howard thinks he knows metaphysics. But, of course, he knows even less about what constitutes personhood or a "soul" than he does about botany—and since we're on the subject, "flowers" don't grow from seeds, plants do. Flowers are just the genitals of the plant.

A unique "human body" is, in fact, a unique individual member of the human species. It therefore has a "soul", if you want to use caveman words, since all a "soul" actually is is "that which makes a thing what it is".

There's nothing arbitrary about saying that personhood is present the moment there's a unique human individual present. There's plenty arbitrary about saying personhood starts with a heartbeat—and not only arbitrary, but laughably primitive. The heart is not the soul, kindly do not argue Stone Age or Bronze Age superstition as a basis for public policy.

Magdalene said...

About the same in Colorado. With many ex-Californians living in a couple of front range cities, they rule the roost such that a number of counties would like to sucede.

Rebecca Taylor said...

If embryos are not "living" until they have a heartbeat, I wonder why these scientists were bothered to try and determine "embryo death": http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/44486.php

We are continuous organisms from conception to natural death. If I am a person now, then is it not reasonable to assume that I am a person throughout my continuous journey through life starting with my conception?

Also, thank-you Sophia's Favorite for your elegant rebuttal of the idea that only a heartbeat equals ensoulment or personhood. That simply is not what the Church teaches about the life that begins at conception.

A reminder from the Catechism:
2270- Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

2274- Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

Donna M said...

Still living in California, got a San Diego mayor I would like to throw out! Same ole' prograzi corruption, "yawn"! Government pension scandals, illegal backddoor school construction deals and worst of all NO BLUE ANGELS AIR SHOW! But yes, I do see the metaphor of your vision! The beaches of San Diego have a marine layer that has been unseasonably heavy and long! Where's the sun? Days of continuous summer gray and haze! We know the sun is up there, breaks forth for awhile and goes back into hiding. Just like truth in government. The favorite game in town is "hide and go seek", but it is never found!

Hey, when using all caps, is it considered shouting?

Donna M said...

Consider the individual as a unique and quite cleverly made entity and creation. Didn't have to ask anyones' "permission" to exist! It just "IS", without apology! I liken it's rights and territorial space as having set up a de facto, temporary "consulate office". It has diplomatic immunity until it has finished it's 9 month business!
To all abortionists and like minded,
Please have a little compassion and understanding. Consider them to have "default" amnesty for the time being. It not like they were conceived homeless or something. With a little patience they will vacate the premises soon enough!

Mary Kay said...

I live in the Pacific Northwest just outside of Portland, and the climate and political temperament is much the same west ofthe Cascades. (Fortunately we are just a bit less cloudy/rainy than Seattle...) An interesting story: just a few years ago there was an artistic book popular here with OR Health Science University coworkers, devoted to photos of marine life in its 'pre-natal' state. There was a lengthy disclaimer in the first couple of pages, letting the reader know that no 'pre-natal' sea life was killed in those photos; they were all victims of accident or natural death. So perhaps it's lucky here to be a pre-hatched starfish. Your chance for survival is a bit better!

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