Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Star Wars: Episode III

I, the culturally deprived homeschooler, saw Star Wars: Episode III for the first time on Sunday. (Yeah, not much of a Christmas movie, but hey...) I was thoroughly terrified and disturbed. It was one of the scariest and most unsettling movies I have ever seen; scarier and more disturbing than LOTR, Harry Potter, any other Star Wars, Munich, or Crash; and almost as scary as Mystic River, though definitely not as disturbing.

It's just that Anakin’s path to redemption is so clouded; and in Episode III, you totally despair of any hope for him. The Star Wars saga as a whole is probably the most powerful story of redemption that I have ever seen in a movie, but in III, you despair, because even though you know how it turns out, there seems to be no hope. I mean (sorry for any spoilers, if the other 0.0034% of America that didn't see it is reading this), when he killed the kids, I was in shock. Jen can testify to this: when he was walking up to the Temple, I was like "what is he doing?" And then when he walks into the room with the kids I said, "no way. He's way…" I have never seen anything like that, in that respect. And after that, it didn’t get any better. Only when Padme said (in a clich├ęd sort of way) “there is still good in him,” I remembered that he is redeemed and forgiven in the end.

I did like Episode III—a lot. It reminded me that Star Wars isn’t just some over-rated, computer-generated, sci-fi epic, but a story of love and redemption.

You could call it “The Prodigal Father.”

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

More Random Pictures

These pictures were also taken by my dad on his cell phone thingy...

Anne on Christmas Eve

Luke with an expanding ball thing that he got for Christmas

Anne on Christmas day

Me on Christmas trying on a dress that I got for $2 and an evening wrap that I got for Christmas... I just need someone to ask me to the prom...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!

by Gerrit Van Honthorst

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Check This Out

Here's the new official website of my all-time favorite (and the world's best) writer, Mark Helprin.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Random Pictures

My Dad took these pictures with his new phone/camera/PDA/communicator/phaser/car battery/kitchen sink device. : )

Anne, John, Therese

Me before the dance

Jen before her performance (afterwards she came to the dance)

My Dad on ZENIT

ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome 2005-12-16

Countering the Myth of the Perfect Child

Bioethics Courses Focus on "Neonatal Euthanasia" and Other Problems

ROME, DEC. 16, 2005 ( Dr. Gerard Brungardt learned an unsettling fact when he came to Italy for an intensive weeklong course on bioethics.

The palliative care specialist from Wichita, Kansas, was surprised to learn that the average Italian woman has 12 sonograms during her pregnancy.

"It indicates our current fear of the non-perfect child," Brungardt said, "for which Dr. Bellieni has coined the term 'handiphobia' -- fear of the handicapped, the risks and realities of in vitro fertilization, embryo adoption, and neonatal/infant euthanasia."

He was referring to Dr. Carlo Bellieni, a neonatologist from Siena and self-described "fetus doctor" who teaches "The Myth of the Perfect Child" course during the week of studies at the Regina Apostolorum athenaeum's School of Bioethics.

A recurring theme in the many anecdotes Bellieni told his class of 80 students was how often parents reduce children to objects.

"We saw in this class how the child is no longer loved unconditionally and respected as a human person," said Dr. Laura Nino, a medical researcher from Houston, Texas, who participated in the course. Rather, the child is sometimes "seen as an object of possession which parents can dispose of when he or she falls short of their expectations," she added.


That sense of high expectations in parents can even lead to the death of perfectly healthy children in the womb.

Bellieni cited the example of prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome and the proliferation of the use of amniocentesis. That surgical procedure involves inserting a hollow needle through the abdominal wall into the uterus of a pregnant woman and extracting amniotic fluid, which may be analyzed to determine the sex of the developing fetus, or the presence of disease or genetic defects.

"A healthy fetus dies for every 200 amniocenteses done which, for 35-year-old woman, is about the same risk as having a Down syndrome child," observed Bellieni.

"This means that in order to eliminate one Down syndrome child, we accept the risk of the death of another innocent child as an adverse effect of the amniocentesis," he said.

Bellieni sees a deeper problem lurking behind the overuse of amniocentesis and the widespread tolerance of abortion. That problem touches on interpersonal relations and even self-image, all of which he talks of in almost philosophical language.

"I" of the storm

"Most fundamentally, we cannot say 'I' anymore because saying 'I' would mean that we have found someone who has called us by name and loved us only because we exist, not because of our utility," Bellieni contended.

"This loss of the capacity to say 'I' leads to our loss of the capacity to say 'You' to the fetus," he added. "We do not love ourselves anymore and therefore we cannot love others. We see others, including the fetus, as a means and not as the end they truly are. One of the consequences of this outlook would be neonatal euthanasia."

"The Myth of the Perfect Child" is only one of several bioethics courses offered recently at Regina Apostolorum. The weeklong courses are offered twice each semester, and once during the summer to accommodate non-traditional students working toward degrees in bioethics.

Now in its fifth year, the athenaeum's School of Bioethics boasts 350 students from 30 countries. Lay people -- including politicians and health-care professionals -- study side by side with religious.

One of the invited guest speakers for next April's intensive courses is Dr. Edmund Pellegrino, the new chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics in the United States. More information about the courses is posted at or available via

Among those who came to Rome this year to deepen their knowledge of science -- and the faith -- was Jennifer Miller of New York.

"Coming from Fordham University," she said, "I saw that scientists get so desensitized that they forget what they are really doing. There is a need to re-humanize science with a focus on human dignity."

ZENIT home

Friday, December 16, 2005

Songs That Should Be in the CL Songbook

First, what is the CL songbook? Well, it's the 'official' songbook of Communion and Liberation. (CL Online) It has songs by everyone from Bob Dylan to Simon and Garfunkel to U2. There are also lots of traditional songs, Catholic hymns, African-American spirituals, and foreign-language songs.

Anyway, these are just some suggestions of mine for the songbook; songs that I think fit very well among the actual selections. They all have a 'CL' message and strike me as fitting additions.

"Hanging by a Moment"-Lifehouse

"Talkin 'bout a Revolution"-Tracy Chapman

"Clarity"-John Mayer

"Something's Missing"-John Mayer

"3x5"-John Mayer

"No Such Thing"-John Mayer

"The Great Divide"-Scott Stapp

"Broken"-Scott Stapp

"We Danced Anyway"-Deena Carter

"With Arms Wide Open"-Creed


"Crawling in the Dark"-Hoobastank

"This is Your Life"-Switchfoot

"Meant to Live"-Switchfoot

"Dare You to Move"-Switchfoot

"Pride(In the Name of Love)"-U2 (This is not only the 2nd best U2 song of all time, it's one of the few that is not in the songbook.)

"Walk On"-U2 (3rd best; and in case you're wondering, the #1 U2 song of all time is "Beautiful Day," which is in the book.)

"Caruso"-(Traditional Italian)

"Summer of '69"-Bryan Adams

"Better Days"-The Goo Goo Dolls

"Iris"-The Goo Goo Dolls

"The Scarlet Tide"-Alison Krauss

"You Will Be My Ain True Love"-Alison Krauss

"I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow"-Alison Krauss and Union Station

"Carry on Wayward Son"-Kansas

"Meet Virginia"-Train

"Shoulda Been a Cowboy"-Toby Keith (it's all about desire ; )

"Don't Stop Believing"-Journey

If anyone has any more ideas, please share them! Thanks for reading...

"Our voices sing with a reason."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Family Picture

Here's our family Christmas picture. It turned out pretty well, I think.




Saturday, December 03, 2005


I've been doing research for my health paper, and I came upon some statistics. The number above? That's the estimate of how many babies have been killed by abortion since 1920.

By the end of 2006 there will be well over one billion.

Think about it. That's an average of 1 out of every 6 babies.

What's happening? All I can say is Lord have Mercy on us.