I’m a writer, pro-life activist, and slow-but-steady hiker in New Hampshire. (More here about all that.) My attitude is summed up by something Pope Francis once said: “Do I, a Catholic, watch from the balcony? You can’t watch from the balcony! Get involved! Give it your best.

Media Moments, October 2020

40 Days for Life AND election season add up to lots of material for conversations online and on-air. My thanks go to Liz Gabert and Jack Kenny who welcomed me to their respective programs this month.

Life With Liz, WSMN Nashua

No written agenda is needed when Liz invites me to join her. She always makes me feel like I’m sitting down for coffee with a friend (which is pretty much what we’re doing!). This time, we talked about the importance of down-ballot offices in this year’s election, with New Hampshire’s Executive Council races as an example. Later in the show, Sister Mary Rose Reddy joined us to talk about the current 40 Days for Life campaign.

Life With Liz, 10/14/2020

Rainbow Stew with Jack Kenny, Manchester Community Television

I was pleased to represent the Manchester (NH) 40 Days for Life campaign in this interview with Jack Kenny.

Jack Kenny’s Rainbow Stew, taped 10/21/2020

On Judge Barrett

As one Catholic woman to another, I send my best wishes to Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the U.S. Senate votes on her nomination to the Supreme Court.

I don’t know how she’d vote on a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, and neither do you. Even so, I think every objection to her nomination comes down to one thing: the possibility that she might have even the teensiest reservation about abortion. Any objections to her faith I’ve encountered are all about that. It’s not that she’s Catholic; it’s that she might take Catholic teaching on the nature of abortion and conscience rights seriously.

That’s “might.” One may hope.

Note that in a buffer zone case in 2016, she voted with the majority to uphold a buffer zone law in Chicago that employed a “bubble zone.” That decision also pointed out that in light of SCOTUS’s McCullen decision, the Chicago case would be vulnerable on further appeal.

I believe it’s pure theater to say that she poses a threat to everyone’s health insurance, by means of a pending court challenge to the “Affordable Care Act,” better known as Obamacare.

Yes, theater. The ACA has no severability clause, thanks to the Senators (including one of my New Hampshire Senators, Jeanne Shaheen) who voted to pass it without one. If SCOTUS throws out the law because no single part of it can be separated from the rest, they’ll be following the path laid out for them by the House, Senate, and former president Obama in 2010. (But see this commentary from ScotusBlog outlining less extreme possibilities.)

I’ve asked my Senators to vote to confirm Judge Barrett, even though they have both declared their firm opposition to her, or perhaps only to her nomination. It’s hard to tell if they can distinguish the woman from the man who nominated her.

Will the result of this nomination be judicial recognition of the dignity and worth of each human being without exception? I have no idea. As I said, one may hope.

Open Book, October 2020

It’s been awhile since I’ve contributed to the Open Book linkup, hosted by blogger Carolyn Astfalk and the team at CatholicMom.com. Time to catch up and find out what other folks are reading.

I’m looking forward to reading more than just excerpts from Pope Francis’s Fratelli Tutti, released a few days ago. Headlines seldom do justice to encyclicals. At the same time, I’m re-reading St. John Paul II’s The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae), which was released 25 years ago.

I just finished this one, and I highly recommend it for anyone who likes good stories and elegant prose: West With the Night is a memoir by Beryl Markham (1902-1986), probably best known for her pioneering transatlantic flight in 1936. I picked up the book out of mild curiosity about how she described her own accomplishment. What I found was one of the most beautifully written works I’ve read. The epic flight rates a single chapter near the end, and those few pages are a small treasure in themselves.

I’m reading a book of G.K. Chesterton mysteries that I found in a bookshop, knowing nothing about them except the author’s name. The Man Who Knew Too Much contains eight short stories with an interesting common bond: to borrow from the book’s cover, “justice does not take its usual course.” These are eight quick little diversions.

Every time John LeCarré puts out a new book, I read it in the usually-vain hope that he can match the perfection of his Smiley trilogy, published about 40 years ago. That’s hardly fair. I’m in the midst of his latest, Agent Running in the Field. So far, so good-ish.

When this year started, I made a list of all my yet-unread literary finds from yard sales and used-book shops. It’s an imposing list. The idea, or rather the good intention I had on New Year’s Day, was to either read them and then pass them on to someone else by the end of the year. I’m actually about halfway through the list at this point, three-quarters of the way through the year. The giveaway box is filling up. That’s progress.