Friday, January 19, 2007

A really weird, but off topic story

This morning Kathy and the four youngest were preparing for a trip to Minnesota. Suddenly our 12-year old daughter says, "Where's the phone so I can call the health department!" Our 15 year old boy and I said, "huh?! Why do you need to call the health department and why right now?" She said, "I need to find out whether age is the only criterion for sitting in the front seat with air bags or if there is also a weight and height criterion." She wanted to sit in the front seat, but since state law says you have to be 13, she wanted to know if there was an exception for tall girls like her.

As it turns out, there isn't. So she sat in the middle seat of our van.

Doesn't it seem ludicrous that a girl would have to call the health department to department to find out if she can sit in the front seat. Isn't that government overreach? Shouldn't she just be able to ask her parents, who could then make a decision? I find this to be weird.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Milwaukee Catholic Home Schooling Converence

April 27-27. The keynote speaker will be Fr. Raymond Gawronski, S. J. He will be speaking about what John Paul II taught us about fatherhood. I will be on a panel on Friday and speaking on Saturday about what constitutes a genuine Catholic education. They've posted all the essential information on the Greater Milwaukee Catholic Home Eductors website. Please come!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Catholic Book Reviews Monthly

This site by Mary Brittnacher, a former librarian here at Sacred Heart, reviews new books on Catholic topics. Her current review is of Fr. Robert Barron's Heaven in Stone and Glass: Experiencing the Spirituality of the Gothic Cathedrals. Her previous reviews have been of Fr. Richard John Neuhaus's Catholic Matters (although the link is currently defective on this one), Jonathan Englert's The Collar (a book about Sacred Heart School of Theology), and Thomas Cahill's Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science, and Art from the Cults of Catholic Europe. The reviews are detailed and insightful.

By the way, Fr. Barron is great. If you don't know his work see his website, Word on Fire.


One of the most important points St. Ignatius makes is the necessity for a healthy spiritual life to be grounded in gratitude. That is why the twice-daily examen (noon and bedtime) always begins with an act of gratitude for a specific thing. I think it is also important to begin the day with gratitude, no matter how you feel and no matter how unpleasant the day ahead appears to be. So, I've taken to beginning the day by thinking of ten things for which I am grateful before I do anything else. For instance, today my list included:

  • The beautiful snow
  • Sleeping in until 7:00
  • The Latin language
  • The Word of God
  • Our seven children
  • Our house and yard
  • The old 1980s journal of mine that my wife found in the garage yesterday
  • My morning cup of coffee
  • Classics
  • My twenty minute walk to work in the woods

Some of these I will repeat day after day; others will be different each day.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Health Care Ethics Resources

To show that someone actually does read this blog, I am publishing the following e-mail I received:

Dear Dr. Gotcher,

I noticed your blog comment this morning. Please check out our website: ttp:// We have more than 230,000 citations in a bibliographic database, many with links to full text. We are adding about 12,000 items a year. However, our library was established in 1973, so we don't have very many books that precede that date. You may want to simply enter: catholic* into the Basic Search box for ETHX on the Web to get an idea of what we have. The most recent items appear first. You can narrow your search with other concepts, classification numbers, etc. In addition, you may want to request a custom search through that free service.

Doris Goldstein, MLS, MA
Director, Library and Information
Kennedy Institute of Ethics
Georgetown University
DC 20057-1212
tel: 202-687-6695
library tel: 202-687-3885
library email:
fax: 202-687-6770

Monday, January 15, 2007

Health Care Ethics

I am teaching health care ethics this semester. One of the frustrating things about it is that there are really no classical texts in the field. The Church and theologians have only been thinking about it in anyway systematically since the 1970s. There has been so much change in the medical field that sometimes even those books and articles have only historical value. So you wind up reading from books and articles written in the past ten years. Very boring!

"Duty" and "obligation"

Do they mean the same thing?

You can say, "I have an obligation," and "I have a duty," but you can't say, "He did his obligation" in the same way you can say, "He did his duty." What you would say is, "He fulfilled his obligation."

Do they mean the same thing?