Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Musings

I wasn't near a computer on Friday, so I was unable to publish a roundup of headlines. Hopefully, I'll get to it this week, with a few extras thrown in from last week.

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I had an appointment with my eye doctor last week - just a regular exam. While going through the check-in procedure at the front desk, I was asked to look into a camera mounted on the desk so that they could take my picture for their database. (?)  This, along with a few other strange questions and a much longer than usual form I had to fill out, made me wonder what was going on.

Later the doctor and I were chatting about some of these new procedures, and he explained that the new federal healthcare law requires these things. Other odd requirements for eye doctors include recording your weight and height, keeping a growth chart for children, and recording information about the patient's mannerisms - What was their mood? Were they pleasant to talk to?

My doctor admitted that he had no idea why he, as an eye doctor, should be interested in a person's weight or a child's growth rate. And if he did need to know this sort of thing, he doesn't need the federal government regulating the gathering of that information on every single patient. He also told me that his office had been through six different versions of computer software over the past year for gathering and compiling this information. Each time a new regulation was unveiled or a kink in the system was discovered, they had to recalibrate and try again. And all of this fuss was for information that they don't even need to serve their patients. This just goes to show what kind of bureaucratic mess is created when the federal government tries to manage something so personal as healthcare.

That's why the principle of subsidiarity is so important. In Catholic Social Justice the principle of subsidiarity states that a social problem should be solved by the lowest possible group or organization within society. Higher groups or authorities should not intervene in lower-level matters unless absolutely necessary, and even then it should only be in limited ways. The federal government has no business telling my eye doctor what information he should gather about my height or what "mood" I might happen to be in. If my doctor needs such information, he can gather it himself, and that should remain between me and him. The healthcare law is an obvious violation of subsidiarity. The federal government is reaching too far into the private, doctor-patient relationship, and it's only going to get worse as the law comes into full effect next year.

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I recently began reading a book entitled Women Priests and Other Fantasies, which contains a series of essays by Father Vincent Miceli. As the title suggests, at least one of these essays pertains to the issue of female ordination. All of the usual arguments against such a practice are skillfully explained by the author. But for me, one particular point stood out. Briefly, it goes as follows:
Feminists say that forbidding female ordination is an injustice against women. The reason Jesus didn't call women to be priests (according to feminists) is that He was conforming to the standards of His time - women were second-class citizens in His day, and so He simply followed that social norm. If He had lived in our age, then He would have called women to be ordained. Thus feminists argue that we must now ordain women to correct this longstanding injustice.

The author refutes this reasoning soundly by pointing out that Jesus was not a blind conformist...He broke social norms many times, especially regarding the role of women. But perhaps more importantly, if Jesus really was simply conforming to the social norms of His time by excluding women from the priesthood, then we must admit that Jesus instituted an unjust practice. He unjustly excluded women based on the social pressures of His day. This would mean that Jesus, the Son of God, is not the God of Justice. This can simply not be true. If we accept the divinity of Jesus, then the male priesthood makes sense because Jesus is the God of Justice.

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