“The world will be won by beauty.” Part 1 Reply


By Tom Quiner

I am exactly like you.  I love beauty.

Every human soul is instinctively attracted to beauty.  This modern world needs more beauty.  To that aim, Quiner’s Diner will begin a regular feature titled “The world will be won by beauty.”  We will occasionally post a work of art that transcends this world, that allows us to imagine the divine, namely God’s pure love.

I heard the quote above on the radio once.  I did a little digging and discovered it is a variation of Dostoevsky’s quote:  “beauty will save the world.”  The 19th century Russian philosopher, Vladimir Solovyov, had this to say about Dostoevsky’s words:

Dostoevsky

“Dostoevsky not only preached, but, to a certain degree also demonstrated in his own activity this reunification of concerns common to humanity–at least of the highest among these concerns–in one Christian idea.

Being a religious person, he was at the same time a free thinker and a powerful artist. These three aspects , these three higher concerns were not differentiated in him and did not exclude one another, but entered indivisibly into all his activity.

In his convictions he never separated truth from good and beauty; in his artistic creativity he never placed beauty apart from the good and the true.

And he was right, because these three live only in their unity. The good, taken separately from truth and beauty, is only an indistinct feeling, a powerless upwelling; truth taken abstractly is an empty word; and beauty without truth and the good is an idol.

For Dostoevsky, these were three inseparable forms of one absolute Idea. The infinity of the human soul–having been revealed in Christ and capable of fitting into itself all the boundlessness of divinity–is at one and the same time both the greatest good, the highest truth, and the most perfect beauty.

Truth is good, perceived by the human mind; beauty is the same good and the same truth, corporeally embodied in solid living form. And its full embodiment–the end, the goal, and the perfection–already exists in everything, and this is why Dostoevsky said that beauty will save the world” (Vladimir Soloviev, The Heart of Reality, trans V. Wozniuk, p. 16).

Schubert

What is beautiful?  Schubert’s Ave Maria, composed by the legendary composer in 1825, three years before his untimely death at thirty-one.

The version sung in the video above is by “The Priests,” a trio of Irish priests who have gained popularity in recent years.  They sing the traditional Latin version:

Ave Maria Gratia plena
Maria Gratia plena
Maria Gratia plena
Ave, ave dominus
Dominus tecum

Benedicta tu in mulieribus
Et benedictus
Et benedictus fructus ventris
Ventris tui Jesus

Ave Maria
Ave Maria Mater dei
Ora pro nobis pecatoribus
Ora, ora pro nobis
Ora ora pro nobis pecatoribus

Nunc et in hora mortis
In hora mortis, mortis nostrae
In hora mortis nostrae
Ave Maria

Here is the well-known English translation:

Mother Mary

Hail Mary,
full of grace,
the Lord is with thee;
blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

Schubert’s melody is beautiful, a perfect tribute to the second most beautiful human being God ever created:  Mary, the Blessed Mother of our Christ.

Why TeleMed abortions should be halted 3


By Tom Quiner

Maggie DeWitte, Executive Director, Iowans for Life

I attended a rainy outdoors press conference this afternoon in Des Moines, Iowa, on a subject that will have national implications: TeleMed abortions.

For the uninitiated, TeleMed abortions are abortions that take place without a doctor physically present.  The doctor dispenses advice from afar via a computer screen. Planned Parenthood (PP) is the agency utilizing TeleMed abortions.  They’re using Iowa as their guinea pig with the hope of rolling it out nationally.

PP likes the idea of TeleMed abortions because of their profit potential.  Their costs are lower.  And it helps solve the growing problem in the abortion industry:  fewer doctors are willing to perform abortions regardless of the money.

With TeleMed, abortionists are able to leverage their time and increase their “productivity” be aborting more babies throughout the state on the same day.  This is the business model of the future for an industry running out of doctors.

Iowa Right to Life (IRTL) has warned about this procedure for a long time.  PP in their usual inimitable style called IRTL liars, claiming they only publish ideology, not truth. It turns out that it was PP who was being disingenuous all along.

A new issue has come up regarding TeleMed abortions.  Is it legal?  Iowa law mandates that a physician must perform an abortion.  In addition, FDA regulations state that RU-486 (the abortion pill used in TeleMed abortions) may only be used up to the seventh week of pregnancy.

PP is apparently in violation of both laws.

That leads us back to today’s press conference.  Leaders in the Pro-LIfe movement throughout the state of Iowa have asked the Iowa Board of Medicine to intervene and acknowledge that TeleMed abortions are in violation of existing standards.

In a letter to the Iowa Board of Medicine signed by 57 different groups, it was argued that “a physical examination never occurs by a licensed physician who is supposed to perform the abortion.”

By law, it’s supposed to.  The letter points out another concern:

“… the mother never sees her ultrasound, as it is privately e-mailed to the doctor at a different location.”

This is a big deal.  Nine out ten women who see an ultrasound of the baby in her womb change their mind and don’t go through with the abortion.  Is PP putting their patient first … or their profits?

Finally, the letter to the Iowa Board of Medicine points out the psychological implications of the TeleMed abortion:

” [PP abortionist] Dr. Tom Ross trivializes what happens at home as the “miscarriage experience.”  Anyone who has suffered a miscarriage will attest that it is emotional, traumatic, and can result in individuals being grief-stricken for a long time. [See article below.] To trivialize this is shameful.”

Jennifer Bowen, Executive Director, Iowa Right to Life

Speakers at today’s press conference included Maggie DeWitte, Executive Director ofIowans for Life, Jenifer Bowen, Executive Director for Iowa Right to Life, and Monsignor Frank Bognanno, pastor at Christ the King parish.  In addition, Kris Gaspari gave a heart-wrenching description of her life after having an abortion.  I have reproduced her remarks below and encourage you to read them in their entirety.

Ultimately, TeleMed can result in traumatic outcomes when unprepared mothers see the remains of their baby in the toilet.  Does she simply flush it? PP is used to discarding baby’s bodies everyday.  They’re okay with it.  It’s a critical source of their profits.

But it is devastating to a woman.

Let us hope the Iowa Board of Medicine intervenes to help end this unique form of exploitation of women in Iowa.  If they don’t, it will be coming to a state near you soon.

Restore dignity and save lives 1


By Kris Gaspari

Kris Gaspari speaks at a press conference outside the Iowa Board of Medicine

Proverbs 12, verse 17 states: “When you tell the truth, justice is done, but lies lead to injustice.”

17 years ago, I chose to allow Planned Parenthood to take the life of my unborn baby. I was a single parent, grieving the death of my mother and the end of a marriage. I was struggling to survive. I wish someone had told me the truth. I wish someone had told me that the mass of tissue growing inside me had 10 fingers and toes, a heartbeat…and a future if I chose life. That day devastated me. Not only did my child die, a part of me died, too. I was filled with shame and regret and vowed to take that secret to my grave. A year later I found myself in an abusive relationship, certain that I deserved any pain I was going through–and it was made even more clear to me that I deserved punishment when I found myself in an emergency room with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that nearly took my life. Instead of burying a baby, I buried my emotions….and I buried them deep. I woke up after surgery, disappointed that I was alive.

Years later when I held my now 12 year old daughter for the first time, I was given a glimpse of what I’d thrown away. I was overcome with remorse, sadness and shame. I became what I call the “overprotective Mother Bear.” I secluded myself, became less social and fell apart. I promised God that I would be the best mother that I could be. And that I was sorry for what I’d done. Four years later, I found myself facing another failed marriage and a question hung like a cloud over me. “What in the world was wrong with me.”

You all have heard the poem “Footprints.” So many years of my life was one set of footprints. The day I finally hit rock bottom  and confessed it for the last time, I forgave myself and started walking on my own two feet. Through the help of my church family I started to heal. One night I read an article in the Knights of Columbus publication “The Columbian” about post abortion syndrome. The woman in the article could have been me. All the symptoms described were what I had been suffering from for all those years. Instantly, I felt a peace that I had never felt before and I was filled with hope. I was normal after all — what I had done was not. Jesus could, and would, heal me.

I started that healing journey with my church and then attended a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat 4 years ago. I got my life back. My dignity was restored. The shame was lifted. I honored the two children I had lost. But most of all I got Christ back to the center of my life.

I will be praying that the hearts of medical staff are opened to a new awareness of how telemed abortions will deeply traumatize women. Emotionally and physically they will be at risk. This is not safe, nor ethical. As part of my healing I forced myself to look at pictures of aborted fetuses. I was devastated at what I saw and those images will be with me forever. I was traumatized. I can’t comprehend how one would cope with the emotions of this process and then be left alone to deal with the remains of what was once an innocent life. I urge you to think about dignity and respect. These are lives we’re talking about. Lives worthy of a future and ethical medical care.

In the middle of the night a couple of years ago, I woke up and thought I was talking in my sleep. I realized that I wasn’t. I was talking to God. I heard His voice tell me “to tell the truth. Be silent no more.” That’s why I’m standing here today. To speak the truth.  To give women and men who suffer, hope.  To educate our youth and our communities on the effects of abortion.   To show that if I can heal, you can heal and that by exposing the truth, we can restore dignity and save lives.

Auschwitz vs. Ground Zero Reply


By Tom Quiner

Edith Stein: "The anguish in our neighbor's soul must break all precept."

Edith Stein was executed at Auschwitz on August 9th, 1942, for the crime of being a Jew.  This 68th anniversary of her death is relevant today.

Some background is in order.  She was born into a devout Jewish family on Yom Kippur, the youngest of eleven children.  As a teen, she moved away from her Jewish faith to atheism until she experienced a profound religious conversion at the age of twenty-nine. She eventually converted to Roman Catholicism.

Ms. Stein gained renown as a writer, philosopher, and speaker, throwing her talents into the Catholic Woman’s Movement.  She eventually became a Carmelite nun and took the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

In 1932, she denounced Hitler and Nazism.  She wrote the Pope and asked him to also denounce the Nazis and “to put a stop to this abuse of Christ’s name.”  A public denunciation, of sorts, didn’t come until 1937 when Pope Pius XI condemned the tenets of Nazism in his German encyclical, “Mit brennender sorge” (“With burning anxiety”).  The encyclical did not specifically mention anti-Semitism, but did vigorously support the concept of universal human rights.  On Palm Sunday in 1937, it was read from the pulpit of every Catholic Church in Germany, eventually resulting in increased persecution of Catholics.

The horrors of Auschwitz were prayerfully commemorated in 1979 when Pope John Paul II visited the site during his historic trip to Poland.  There, at “this Golgotha of the modern world,” as he characterized it, the Pope invoked Edith Stein:

“ … many victories were won [here].  I am thinking, for example, of the death in the gas chamber … of the Carmelite Sister Benedicta of the Cross, whose name in the world was Edith Stein … Where the dignity of man was so horribly trampled on, victory was won through faith and love.”

With sad eyes, the Pope recalled the anti-Semitic horror of Auschwitz:  “In particular I pause with you … before the inscription in Hebrew. This inscription awakens the memory of the People whose sons and daughters were intended for total extermination. This People draws its origin from Abraham, our father in faith … The very people that received from God the commandment “Thou shalt not kill”, itself experienced in a special measure what is meant by killing. It is not permissible for anyone to pass by this inscription with indifference.”

Pope John Paul II: Showed compassion to victims' families.

Perhaps inspired by the Pope’s visit, perhaps inspired by the martyrdom of one of their own, a group of Carmelite nuns purchased an abandoned building at Auschwitz in 1984 and opened a convent.  There they prayed for the souls of the army of innocents executed on those grounds, very much in the tradition of Edith Stein’s words: “it is our vocation to intercede to God for everyone.”

Jewish groups were understandably concerned.

To some, it seemed as if the site of the Auschwitz memorial was being hijacked by the religion, Christianity, of their oppressors, the Nazis (some of whom were nominally Christian).

Some were offended at the idea of Catholics praying for Jewish souls “as a guarantee of the conversion of strayed brothers,” as if Judaism was insufficient for salvation.

Some were offended by the idea of anything Catholic at Auschwitz, since in their eyes, the Vatican had not been strong enough in denouncing anti-Semitism.

Catholic-Polish groups couldn’t understand what could possibly be wrong with a group of nuns calling down God’s love and forgiveness at such a notorious place of evil.  And besides, more Polish-Catholics were killed there than Jews.

Jews responded that extermination of the Jewish race was a central goal of the Third Reich, that Auschwitz held even more important symbolism to Jews than Christians.

Both sides had a point.

Pope John Paul II interceded and asked the nuns to move, which they eventually did.  In his mind, the good accomplished by a Carmelite convent at Auschwitz would be outweighed by the pain it caused to Jewish groups.  Their mission, their prayers, could continue in a convent at a different location.

A similar drama unfolds today, only this time, it is a Muslim group that wants to build a mosque at Ground Zero in New York.

The same issues, the same sensitivities are in play.  The leadership, though, is remarkably different.

Mayor Bloomberg: Scolds victims' families.

New York Mayor Bloomberg attacks families of the victims who don’t want the mosque at Ground Zero, asserting they should “be ashamed of themselves.”

Contrast his approach with that of the Pope who showed compassion to victims’ families and the anguish in their souls.

The Mayor couches the issue in terms of religious freedom for Muslims.

The Pope, on the other hand, viewed the issue through the lens of humility.  Yes, the Carmelite nuns had a right to be at Auschwitz, but at what price?

What would Edith Stein have to say about this controversy?  This: “As for what concerns our relations with our fellow men, the anguish in our neighbor’s soul must break all precept. All that we do is a means to an end, but love is an end in itself, because God is love.”

[I am at work on a new musical titled “The Pope of the People.” It presents Pope John Paul II’s dramatic trips to Poland and Iowa in 1979.  Watch this space for updates.]

President and Mrs. Bush greet returning soldiers Reply


By Tom Quiner

Returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan were shocked and awestruck when they got off their plane at Dallas/Ft. Worth airport last week.  The 145 returning soldiers were greeted by President and Mrs. Bush.

This isn’t the kind of story that will get big press.  The video above is worth watching. The soldiers really appreciated the gesture by the former President and First Lady.