Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Working on the List.

As I mentioned in my first blog post of 2013, the closest I'll come to making a New Year's resolution for this year will be to read as many books as I can from Deal Hudson's list of 100 Best Catholic Novels. Of course, there's no way I'll even pretend to try and read the entire list in one year. With my schedule, reading two books every week for 50 weeks would be impossible. I also decided that, rather than read the novels in the order listed, I would read whichever book caught my fancy.

The first on my list is Watcher From the Shore by Ayako Sono. I have a soft spot in my heart for all things Japanese and I was intrigued by the idea of seeing inside the mind of a Japanese Roman Catholic.

The book centers around Sadaharu Nobeji, a Japanese gynecologist who operates his own clinic in a semi-rural area on the west side of the Miura Peninsula . Sadaharu reminds me of many among my generation; not exactly "totally" evil - he may have some good qualities - but he lives his life according to his own moral standards (which aren't necessarily consistent) and he is all too willing to overlook the evil of abortion. A thoroughly modern individual, Sadaharu is head over heels in love with cynicism and alcohol.

I know quite a few wanna-be Buddhists who might benefit from reading this book. Many of the people I grew up with have spend a good deal of time reading books on Japanese Zen Buddhism. Perhaps reading a different sort of Japanese writer could certainly be enlightening. The main character of Watcher From the Shore doesn't pretend to be Buddhist (as many American Liberals do) but the similarities between the American wannabe Buddhists and Sadaharu are striking.

The next book on my list is another novel by Ayako Sono; No Reason for Murder. Where I'll go after that is anybody's guess.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Kansas Wants Child Support from Sperm Donor.

I'll do my best to be,uh, unsnarky while writing this particular post.

In 2009, a lesbian couple, Angela Bauer and Jennifer Schreiner of Kansas, placed an ad on Craigslist in their search for a sperm donor. Their ad (and resumably, their prayers) were answered by one William Marotta, also of the great State of Kansas.

After meeting with Marotta and his wife, - and choosing not to use a clinic or doctor - Schreiner inseminated herself with a syringe. Bauer, Schreiner and Marotta signed an agreement relieving Marotta of any financial or paternal responsibility.

At some point, Schreiner and Bauer split up and according to one news report, "when Bauer was diagnosed in March with what she calls 'a significant illness' that prevents her from working, Schreiner sought health insurance for their daughter from the state. The DCF told Schreiner if she didn't provide the sperm donor's name, it would deny any health benefits because she was withholding information."

With the sperm donor's name, the Kansas Department of Children and Families claimed that Marotta was the baby's father and needed to support her.

From a legal standpoint, it's difficult to say if Marotta should have to repay the State for the $6,000 that Schreiner received through public assistance. After all, an agreement was signed by all three parties involved. The State of Kansas claims that the agreement isn't valid because no doctor was involved in the insemination.

Regardless of the "legalities", I believe Marotta should be made to pay child support. Artificial insemination, with or without a doctor, is immoral. The idea that Marotta could help create a human being without being responsible in morally reprehensible. Marotta was more than willing to donate sperm to two complete strangers whom he met via the Internet. An article on one website attempts to muddy the waters by suggesting "homophobia", but the process wouldn't be moral even if the woman was heterosexual. Should Marotta be made to pay, perhaps others will be reluctant to become sperm donors.

In its attempt to get money in a way which might be questionable legally, the State of Kansas might actually be encouraging moral behavior. That would be ironic coming from the home of Kathleen Sebelius.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

First Post of 2013.

Having written a post on the last day of 2012, it seem only fitting that I write a post on the first day of 2013.

One would expect to read a blog post written today filled with all sorts of resolutions. There will be resolutions in this one, but I won't go overboard.

In yesterday's post I mentioned a number of books that I had started reading last year but never finished. I can be easily distracted at times and if there is the slightest lull in a story, or if another story grabs my attention, I'll drop one book and pick up another. Finishing some or all of the books mentioned might be one resolution worth making (and keeping).

Early in Decemeber, I came across something by Deal Hudson, where he lists 100 Best Catholic Novels. Or, How to Buy a Catholic Library for Christmas. Not rich enough to purchase the entire 100 books, I could resolve to read some of the books from the list. Let's be realistic. There's no way I could possibly finish 100 books in one year. Reading two books in any particular week would be possible,but certainly not two books every week.

The books are listed in chronological order of publication. Eight of the first ten on the list are in the public domain and available at Project Gutenberg  free of charge. Number six on the list, Leon Bloy's, The Woman Who Was Poor, is available in French. I can't read French and the English translation is priced out of my reach. Number eight, Robert Hugh Benson's, Lord of the World, was one of the books I read in 2012. Number ten, Sigrid Undset's, Kristin Lavansdatter, isn't in the public domain, but I have the 3 volume set already; the first book in the trilogy, The Bridal Wreath, was also one of the books I read last year. At the very least, I could finish reading the trilogy as well as the six books I downloaded from Project Gutenberg. (Adalbert Stifter's, Rock Crystal is available in a large collection of German literature which I haven't download yet).

In addition to the books in the public domain, I want to read some of the later books on the list. I've already purchased copies of Ayako Sono's two books on the list - The Watcher from the Shore and No Reason for Murder.

Those ten volumes should keep me occupied for some time. I have weeks to decide which book will be number eleven.

Happy New Year.

The Last Blog Post of 2012.

At the risk of stating the obvious, I haven't done such a bang-up job of keeping this blog up to date. I've only managed 125 posts this year and most of those have very little actual writing in them. At the very least, I should make an attempt to wrap up the year on this last day of 2012.

The two most significant events of the year were the discovery early in the year that I had prostate cancer and the death of one of my brothers this past August. The cancer was easily dispatched ... a radical prostatectomy took care of that problem, although the surgery was not without side effects.
The death of my brother, Rodney was unexpected. He had lived a hard life (of his own choosing). He had finally come to settle down a couple of years ago. He hadn't succeeded in repairing all the bridges he had burnt over the past 30 years or so, but I'm not going to spend time going into any sordid details.

After my return to work after the surgery, my schedule didn't encourage my writing; the little free time I had was spent either reading or watching reruns of Poirot,  Miss Marple   (or the later series Marple ) and Inspector Lewis on Netflix.

Following is a list of the books I've read (or reread) this year:

King Solomon's Mines, by H. Rider Haggard

Allan Quatermain, by Henry Rider Haggard

On Loving God, by St. Bernard

The New Anti-Catholicism, by Philip Jenkins

Lord of the World, by RH Benson

Paradoxes of Catholicism, by RH Benson

Return of Tarzan, by ER Burroughs.

The God That Did Not Fail, by Robert Royal

The Gods of Mars, by ER Burroughs

My Grandfather's Son, by Clarence Thomas

Moby Dick, by Herman Melville

The Egg and I, by Betty MacDonald

The Plaque and I, by Betty MacDonald

Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Aunt Phillis's Cabin Or, Southern Life As It Is, by Mary H. Eastman

Kristin Lavransdatter - Vol.1 - The Bridal Wreath, by Sigrid Undset

Danny Gospel, by David Athey

Dead Man Walking, by Sr. Helen Prejean

Forgiving the Dead Man Walking,by Debbie Morris with Gregg Lewis

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, by Vicente Blasco Ibañez

Of the group, the most disappointing read was Danny Gospel, by David Athey. It had been given high praises. The most enjoyable was Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, by Vicente Blasco Ibañez; that may be because it was the last one I read and the impression the book made on me is still fresh in my mind.

Among the books I started reading this year, but never finished are:

Anna Karenina, but Leo Tolstoy

The Idiot, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The River War, by Winston Churchill

The Confidence-Man, by Herman Melville

The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie

She, by Henry Rider Haggard 

Tomorrow I'll post a list of the books I'm planning on reading in 2013. Hopefully, the list will include the ones I began this year but didn't finish reading.