Tag Archives: pro-life

7 Quick Takes on the Texas Rally for Life, Being Singled Out, and True Gender Equality


— 1 —

This was a quiet week but nonetheless a good one. Our kitchen light fixture started to die unexpectedly a week and a half ago, so we’ve been cooking with ambient light from the dining room, eat-in area, and oven hood. There is nothing quite like dicing onions in the dark, let me tell you. Living on the wild side!

Our landlord sent an electrician to install a whole new fixture on Wednesday. It’s very pretty, but I’m still getting used to the brightness. I had to replace the bulb in my bedroom last week, too, so I am literally walking in a whole new light.

— 2 —

I went with some married friends to the Texas Rally for Life on Saturday. It was good, in the sense that I wish it was unnecessary but I’m committed until that happens. Pro-life marches and rallies are the only political activism I ever do. It took a solid year for me to work up the courage to at least try it, and that was back in DC, where the March for Life requires taking public transportation, is held on January 22 (frequently a weekday), and promises cold and wet weather. Yet I march.


I thought this year’s speakers were much better than last year’s. I missed having Governor Abbott there, but I had no idea his daughter was adopted or that his wife has credentials for days. Abby Johnson always does a great job speaking, not in the least due to her incredible witness. It is literally incredible: her stories are terrible, but they are both true and factual. Bishop Joe gave the invocation, as he did last year. He once again managed to offer a prayer that nailed the tricky middle ground between being overtly Catholic, firmly Christian, or vaguely God-directed. I’ve tried that myself; it’s hard. I also really enjoyed the closing prayer offered by a Baptist minister. I found myself really getting into it, which is unusual. Charismatic prayer is not usually my thing, but I’ve had bigger surprises.

I decided not to make or carry a sign. I am my sign. Even if you don’t speak to me at all, you can see that I’m young and black (or at least brown). That’s the only sign I need. I march for black women who are pro-life but fear speaking up about it. I march for young women who feel like they would betray second-wave feminism if they didn’t at least tacitly support “choice.” I march for people who can’t, who won’t, or who don’t yet. And I intend to keep marching until I can’t or don’t have to.

— 3 —

One thing in particular did concern me about the Rally for Life, though. It wasn’t just that it’s effectively just the Christian Rally for Babies & Moms. That’s an issue for another day. It was the counter-protesters.

In the years I went to the March for Life in DC, it became almost a game to try to spot the counter-protesters and confirm that theirs would be the only photos to show up in the news. Every year, there were maybe 100 pro-choice protesters. I only knew that because they were inevitably photographed by the Washington Post at an angle that made their group look much larger. I never actually saw them in person, though. I was buried in the throng of literal thousands of pro-life people filling up South Capitol Street.

Here, last weekend, I gave my usual response to our pro-choice counter-protesters: I ignored them. It’s not hard to ignore a few dozen people. What really left me confused was the small counter-protest rally my friends and I passed on the north side of the Capitol building as we headed home. Don’t get me wrong: they have absolutely as much right to hold a permitted protest rally as pro-life marchers do. The problem is that I didn’t know they would be there. Granted, gathering 100 people and a sound system to match doesn’t take much. We used to do that for Ash Wednesday on campus every year at my old job. But I did some research when I got home, and I still have no idea who was in charge. Did the Texas Alliance for Life know about it? Is this going to become an annual thing until we’re battling for audio space?

If they were trying to leave me unsettled, that worked, honestly. But I’ll be back next year.

— 4 —

Last Friday, I went to dinner with some friends. It was the birthday of my former roommate’s husband. (He’s my friend, too.) I’ve missed small group dinners since our young adult group disbanded, and I don’t get to see the birthday boy and wife much, so I gratefully accepted the invitation.

The weird part came when I realized who else would be attending. My former roommate, her husband, and six of the other attendees comprise couples married in the last 19 months. My (male) friend Sam and I were literally the only unmarried people among the ten of us. Somehow, we manage to split up men and women when we gather in Catholic groups (which is not conducive to getting the single people married), so I wound up having dinner with four recently-married women.

Naturally, the conversation turned to my love life. I’m not opposed to my friends keeping me on their lists, but I still felt awkward being singled out like that. (Pardon the pun.) It was as though the group suddenly took on the mission to Get Lindsay Married. I don’t usually get that kind of pressure, not even from well-intentioned friends. It was not pleasant. Of course I want to get married, but talking about it openly and often is a recent development. Am I alone in this?

— 5 —

All these restive feelings have been balanced out by Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homilies. Seriously, they’re fantastic, and you should listen. I get sad thinking about how I’m eventually going to catch up and then have to wait a week between homilies, like a caveman. Until then, I am tweeting quotations as I go.

Check out that favorite!

— 6 —

I can’t stop thinking about a particular Verily magazine article, on the real meaning of feminism and equality, since I read it. The author expresses an opinion I have long since held, but she does so eloquently and personally. Here’s the excerpt that made me realize I’d found a kindred spirit:

There is something about the way that we discuss gender equality that unsettles me. Take me, for example:

I majored in economics in college because I like it and I’m good at it. I took an economics class in high school and found that my mind clicked into the subject in a way that it did not click into others. Majoring in it seemed to me like the next logical step. When I announced my decision, however, my peers and mentors encouraged and applauded me with an urgency that confused me.
“Only 15 percent of economists are female,” they exclaimed.

“We need more female economists,” they would say, “We need more women pursuing quantitative subjects.”

Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for the encouragement. I was happy that my success in economics was regarded as a necessity by my professors, advisers, counselors, and friends. But it was their collective reasoning that disturbed me. My interest and ability did not necessitate my success, according to them—my gender did. They seemed to think that because roughly half of the world’s people are women, so too roughly half of the world’s economists ought to be women. The ratio of women to men in the field is lopsided and thus, unacceptable.

It only gets better from there. Her reasoning is on point, and I agree with it wholeheartedly. Check it out at Verily, and subscribe to their daily emails while you’re there. It’s one of the best items in my inbox.

— 7 —

One last tweet. I haven’t yet shared the rest of my love story with my budget, but it’s coming. Trust me. I did have a huge financial accomplishment this week, though:

In a nutshell, this means that I am now one month ahead on all my monthly expenses, including savings. I feel excited, a bit dumbfounded, and joyful. More soon. In the meantime, visit YouNeedABudget.com (referral/discount link) and start your journey to freedom.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes on Twitter, Water, and Churchy Things


— 1 —

Why didn’t anyone tell me that Twitter is the best way to have actual (Internet) contact with actual (Catholic) celebrities? I would have joined sooner.

Look, Fr. Mike Schmitz responded to my dejected tweet about his podcast not working!

Then, when I got my latest review copy from Ave Maria Press, I tweeted about it and got this enthusiastic response from Dawn Eden!

Dawn reached out to me through my blog after I reviewed the original edition of The Thrill of the Chaste. It turns out that she went to school with my old friend Fr. Leo (who I knew before he was a priest). She was my initial connection to Ave Maria Press, and I’ve had a great relationship with the publisher and the author since.

The world is so small.

— 2 —

My mom has a habit of giving us odd gifts at Christmastime. This year, in addition to a flower-print hammer/screwdriver combo, she gave me this unique Zipster Zebra water bottle.


I forgot to add something for scale. Sorry! It’s about the size of an Arizona Iced Tea… or a Four Loko. It’s sparked some interesting conversations around the office, believe me. The best result, though, is that this bottle alone has helped me drink more water. It’s the opacity. Since I can’t see how much is left, and the double walls add more weight than I’m used to, I often find myself sadly facing an empty bottle. Then I get more water and I’m happy again. Who knew changing my tool was the key to healthy hydration?

— 3 —

I mentioned in the February part of my year in review that my diocese is developing a pastoral plan. After the SurveyMonkey and the listening sessions, they presented to the steering committee. (I’m no fool; I know they have listened but will make all the decisions. I feel the same way about this that I feel about the pastoral survey before last fall’s synod: I’m glad they asked at all!)

I’ve been trying to recap the survey results since they came out in May. The report should be released in about six weeks, so this seems like as good a time as any.

It’s a happy PDF, I must say. The respondents were 20% under age 30, almost 75% have at least one college degree, 87% go to Mass every week, and just over 50% say their faith is the most important thing in their life, all of which is fantastic (and, full disclosure: include me). Priests identify preparing people to witness (i.e. actively evangelize) as something to emphasize. Most of the news is really good news. Good job, Austin!

— 4 —

I was surprised and delighted to see that the pastoral plan survey identified preparing to witness as a potential area of emphasis for parishes. I absolutely agree.

I was in a FOCUS Bible study when I was in undergrad. They didn’t have the apologetics study yet, but we did talk about preparing a witness, a.k.a. giving your testimony. It’s not a common habit among Catholics—although we do love conversion stories—but ask evangelicals for their testimony and brace yourself for the passion!

A testimony/witness is the story of how you became a Christian (or a Catholic in particular), when you met Jesus, or how you came back. The mechanics of preparing a testimony is too much for one Quick Take, but I will say that when I started preparing mine, it not only enriched my faith, it built my confidence. I can explain how I came to faith in less than 30 seconds (the elevator pitch) or less than 5 minutes (the “tell me your story”). I’m still polishing my 30-minute pitch.

Do you have a testimony? If you have an elevator pitch, please share it in the comments!

— 5 —

<a href=”href=”http://9daysforlife.com”>usccb-9daysforlife

Tomorrow (Saturday) begins the Nine Days for Life novena sponsored by the USCCB. Sign up by email, join the Facebook event, or download the app to receive a prayer, reflection, and act of reparation for the days surrounding the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. It’s well-written, actually doable for regular people, and not just anti-abortion (despite what the image says).

That last part is one of my pet peeves about the pro-life movement. We’ve made great strides toward showing love for and tangibly helping women and couples instead of just their babies. Now we need to also remember prisoners in danger of execution; people who are elderly, ill, or have a disability who face coercion to euthanasia; and all people who don’t feel genuinely loved simply because they exist. You shouldn’t have to earn the respect of others to stay alive.

It’s not the March Against Abortion; it’s the March for Life.

— 6 —

I didn’t do much this week, at least not in terms of calendar events. Spirit & Truth started up again on Monday. It was so good to see everyone, to hear them share their blessings, and to be with Jesus.

I went out for social hour afterwards, so I stayed out past my bedtime. That’s a literal bedtime; I have a phone/calendar alarm for it, and it went off when I took out my phone to record paying my check in the YNAB app. Staying up and out so late meant I was drained the next day, so I skipped the bigger happy hour I’d planned to attend.

I waver right on the line between introversion and extroversion. Sometimes my introvert side pops out. My Monday-to-Tuesday shuffle showed that it was out in full force this week. To recover, I stayed in and started watching my way through Merlin on Hulu.

— 7 —

I use my work IT guy to help manage my personal computing life. He emails us to alert us to Microsoft’s Update Tuesday. I use that as the reminder to do my computer maintenance and cleaning at home. I cleared off my computer desktop on impulse tonight, and I feel so free! I only have two icons: the Recycle Bin and the drop converter for PrimoPDF. Ahh.

(I highly recommend PrimoPDF, by the way. It’s free and works like Adobe Acrobat to convert documents to PDF. I use it all the time to “print” from the Internet.)

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes Friday: Vol. 176

— 1 —

I just discovered that Twitter has a bot called Pentametron. It searches tweets based on syllabication for the ones that are written in iambic pentameter! Then it organizes them by rhyming into a sonnet at Pentametron.com! It doesn’t delete hashtags, and it doesn’t screen for profanity, but it can read numbers and Twitter handles as words. This is one of those times when technology and art hold hands and it is glorious.

— 2 —

A Goodreads friend shelved a book as “not sure” that I am not certain I believe exists. It’s called Canceled: The Story of America’s Least Wanted, and it’s roughly about a reality show on abortion. America votes, the woman kills her child. I loved the satire of Bumped, but Canceled sounds like it might go one step too far. I’m intrigued, but I’m scared.

— 3 —

Forget trashing the dress. Make it into a baptismal gown for your children! I have never heard of anyone doing this before, but I wound up at Fairy Godmother Creations in the midst of some other research, and I am hooked. I cannot think of a better use for a wedding gown. Unless the style mom chose was particularly timeless, some women won’t want to wear their mother’s actual dress. You can deconstruct mom’s dress and use pieces for daughter’s wedding dress, sure. But what better way could you have to use the dress you wore on the day you joined with your husband in lifelong love than to put that same dress on the fruit of your love: your baby, being brought into the Church?

— 4 —

I found another fantastic Potter gift on Etsy! This one is a keychain that says “Accio keys.” Love it!

— 5 —

Happy Meatday! Today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, so I’m pretty sure you have a moral obligation to eat bacon today.

— 6 —

Related to the above, I came across a Pinterest board called Meatless Fridays. It’s entirely photo memes like the above, and not meatless meal recipes, but that doesn’t matter today! My bacon cheeseburger-eating self says, “Hooray!”

— 7 —

Through Monday night, you can get $2 in free MP3s at Amazon’s MP3 store with the code MP3S4ALL. I used $.99 of mine on the “Prayer of St. Francis” by Sarah McLachlan. I wanted Maroon 5’s cover of “Pure Imagination,” but they only sell that as partr of an album. What should I buy with my other $1.01?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Life Can Be Beautiful (Review: “October Baby”)

Last month, I went to see October Baby when its distribution expanded to Austin. Although I am a Christian, I do not feel automatically compelled to like Christian films. Holy people still sin; Christian films can still be terrible. I’ve never actually seen any of Sherwood Pictures’s movies (Facing the Giants, Fireproof, or Courageous), but I haven’t intentionally avoided them. I hear the acting is bad. An over-reliance on volunteers has plagued many a church endeavor.

I will admit, though, that I saw October Baby in a theater (on a Friday!) partly so that films of its nature will continue being made. It’s not that I want more material for critics to pan: I want the industry to improve. It’s hard to start making better Christian movies if you stop making them altogether. Think about how popular superhero films are right now, or how many dozens of paranormal teen romance novels you can find. When one works, more get made.

A few years ago, I went with the youth group I helped chaperone to see To Save a Life. I’m admittedly a sucker for stories about teenagers with problems, but I thought it was a good movie overall. The acting seemed okay, although it wasn’t phenomenal. The story did not end perfectly, and it was compelling and realistic without being too preachy (though not without being preachy at all, of course). I enjoyed it so much that I bought it on DVD. I knew it would be worth re-watching and contemplating. (It deserves its own review one of these days. Stay posted.)

photo by Martina Thompson, licensed CC BY-NC-SA

I’m not sure that I can say quite the same about October Baby, but I definitely enjoyed it. The movie tells the story of college freshman Rachel, who collapses on stage at her first major theatrical performance. Her suddenly worsened illness is linked to her lifelong health problems, which began with her difficult birth. Eventually, Rachel’s parents reveal that they adopted her after she was born during an attempted abortion. (Many pro-lifers will recognize this as the story of Gianna Jessen.) Torn over this new facet of her identity, Rachel sets out with her best friend Jason to find her roots and figure out who she’s going to become.

Without giving away too much of the story, I found it reasonably realistic. Some of the secondary characters were either too heavy-handed with the comic relief or entirely useless, though, which annoyed me. There’s a line between a background character and a flat secondary character, and it must be respected. Having lived in the areas where the film takes place, I can attest to the general behavior of those locals, as strange as it may seem. Sometimes people really are too nice to believe. Despite those odd characterizations, the acting left me with no complaints. When I learned that Jasmine Guy and John Schneider were featured, I knew this movie would be different. Hiring recognized actors brings so much credibility to a film such as this!

One of my favorite aspects of the movie was that Rachel and Jason demonstrated a beautiful and healthy relationship. He treated her with respect and protected her without being controlling at all, and she accepted his affection without losing herself in him. She was still independent, but he helped lift her up. They had a long history that contributed toward their future, and I believed that they had a genuine and Christlike love for each other. I can’t say that about every movie pair.

October Baby is clearly a message film. Its tagline, “Every life is beautiful,” suggests a kind of hope that many people have lost these days. Whether you find hope in God or in the balancing power of “the universe,” October Baby will help remind you that there is goodness inherent within people. The future may not be dazzling, but it can still be bright.

Deep in the Shallows (Review: “The Giver”)

photo by London looks

We Americans live in a world where choice reigns supreme. Everything from what exotic fruit to enjoy at any given time of year to when and whether to have children is up to our choosing. Whether we should make those choices is an entirely different question. That requires wisdom, faith, and a well-formed conscience. But what happens when people aren’t willing to learn, to trust, and to reason? What if they choose incorrectly? Would it be better to just take away their ability to choose?

In the futuristic world of Lois Lowry’s barely twenty-year-old classic, The Giver, the government has reached exactly that conclusion.

Read the rest at Austin Catholic New Media. This one’s nicely timed with the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity, if I do say so myself.

Friday Five: Thought Experiments

The title and the length of the questions alone makes me wonder if I shouldn’t have attempted this F5 a bit earlier in the day.

  1. What is your response to Philippa Foot’s infamous trolley problem? (For those who don’t know, the problem is thus: “A trolley (or train, if you prefer) is running out of control down a track. In its path are five people who have been tied to the track by a mad philosopher. Fortunately, you could flip a switch, which will lead the trolley down a different track to safety. Unfortunately, there is a single person tied to that track. Should you flip the switch or do nothing?”) Why should/why shouldn’t you flip the switch? I shouldn’t do anything. If I flip the switch, then I am directly responsible for the injury or death of the single person. The number of people matters to the law, but not to my soul. I shouldn’t directly be involved in killing someone who isn’t trying to kill either me or someone I have to protect. If I don’t flip the switch, I’m not directly responsible for killing. Besides, I don’t know for sure that they’re going to die. I don’t have out-of-control train ESP.
  2. What if the only way to stop the trolley from killing five people would be to physically push someone into its path? Should you push that person or leave them be? Why/why not? I’d leave him or her alone. This situation is just like the previous one. Pushing a person into the path of danger would take more work on my part, but flipping a switch has the same result. I’m still getting directly involved.
  3. What if the person on the other track is a child? Should you flip the switch or do nothing? What if you had to physically push the child instead of flipping a switch? Why/why not? I’m sticking with my answers and doing nothing. If I’m not directly involved, I can’t be blamed. Any action I take makes me responsible for everything that happens.
  4. A sailor builds a ship and names it Vessel of Theseus. He takes it on a long voyage and along the way, he is forced to repair it with new parts at every port. By the time he reaches home again, not a single piece of the original ship remains attached. Having lost all its original pieces, is it still the same ship? Why or why not? I’ve never heard of this one before. It comes down to what makes a ship a ship: the physical structure or the name. You could say that it’s still the same ship because it has the same name and the object of doing all those repairs was to augment the original ship, not to build a new one. You could also say that it’s not the same ship because the structure is completely different even though it has the same name. This would be different if it were a person, though. As long as the soul (and brain, I guess, since you can’t see or touch a soul) is the same, you can replace all the other body parts and have the same person underneath, whereas having a replacement baby for a dead child and giving it the same name does not make the new person the same as the old one.
  5. What if the original pieces of the Vessel of Theseus were then gathered up and used to build another ship, christened Hobbes’ Way? Which ship (if either) is the original Vessel? Why? In this case, I think only the first ship is the real Vessel of Theseus. The new one has a different name, and it was not assembled to be the Vessel of Theseus, only made using its parts. Hobbes’ Way is a different ship.

Questions 1-3 have awakened my pro-life side. They’ve specifically got me thinking about miscarriage versus abortion. It would seem heartless to have no sympathy for a woman who miscarries, but it’s somehow offensive if I do have sympathy for a woman’s aborted child. Directly intervening in the development of the unborn child is very different from not stopping a miscarriage. The result is the same, but the actions taken are not.

I don’t think this was my favorite F5, but it was definitely the one that made me think the hardest.

The Friday Five

Really Knowing Both Sides (Review: “Unplanned”)

I pray every time I pass a Planned Parenthood. I have also prayed outside Planned Parenthood clinics that do abortions here in Austin and back home in D.C. I pray for a world where no one will desire abortion. I don’t think making abortion illegal will change hearts, but it might be a start. By far, though, the most important part of the struggle is remembering to do all things in love, as Jesus would. Jesus called people out for their sins, sure, but then he called them to something greater (remember, he told the woman caught in adultery to “sin no more”). Abby Johnson knows exactly what it’s like to love both people who provide abortions and people who pray for an end to them. She worked for Planned Parenthood for eight years, but one day, she knew she had to switch sides. Her book, Unplanned, cowritten with an editor from Christian publisher Zondervan, tells the story of her life up to that day and its heartbreaking aftermath.

photo by Martina Thompson, licensed CC BY-NC-SA

I first heard Abby Johnson’s story last year. I was astonished. It was picture-perfect: someone who knew Planned Parenthood from the inside had literally gone from standing on inside of the fence to praying on the outside. She begins her story with the turning point. She had been director of the Bryan, Texas Planned Parenthood affiliate for some time when she was asked to hold the ultrasound probe during an abortion. As she watched the procedure, she was horrified, and she knew that day that she needed to get out. The Bryan Coalition for Life next door took her in and defended her in the ensuing legal battle. She had joined Planned Parenthood as a college volunteer to help make abortion “safe, legal, and rare” (Planned Parenthood’s alleged goal) and to help women in crisis. When her supervisor told her that she needed to increase abortions to stay in business, and that her personal mission to reduce abortions was going to hurt the bottom line, she knew that Planned Parenthood was not the place to achieve her goal of “safe, legal, and rare” abortion, and she gave up her career for what she believed in. Could you be that brave?

Read the rest at Austin Catholic New Media.

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