Book reviews

Heather Marshall’s Looking for Jane (Atria Books, 2022)

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What would have been a great story about a child conceived from rape being reunited with her birth mother is reduced to pro-abortion propaganda with a needless lesbian twist.

Despite this catastrophic flaw, while it is a propaganda piece more than a work of fiction, Marshall’s work can be used by the worldwide pro-life movement to support pro-life feminists in their fight against abortion and other life-destroying activities.

For example, Marshall’s propaganda effort claims that pregnancy resulting from “circumstances like rape or incest” are “often horrific”, yet the author is blissfully (or ironically) unaware that one of her two main characters, Nancy, is a grown woman who was once an unborn child conceived from the rape of her mother.  Nancy escaped being killed for the crime of her father because abortion was illegal in Canada when she was born and because Nancy’s grandparents brought her mother to a home for unwed mothers negatively described as “just one big well-oiled machine” (84).

Another major irony in Marshall’s depiction of life-denying abortion propaganda is that Evelyn Taylor, an abortionist in the network of clandestine abortionists called the Janes, aborted her own grandchild.  The mother who comes to her for the purpose of killing the unborn child is, unbeknownst to her, her own daughter Nancy.  Evelyn will eventually realize—ten pages from the end of this verbose work—that she performed an abortion on her daughter, but never acknowledges the fact that she killed her own grandchild.

The 372 pages which constitute this apologia for abortion wrongs has several problems, four of which are significant.  First, having two main characters as married lesbians who undergo artificial insemination is worthless as character attributes.  In fact, having Angela and Tina in a committed relationship, albeit a distorted lesbian one, seeking to have children, although in a disordered manner, undercuts the author’s obvious leftist and woke philosophy.  (Marshall twice uses the phrases “pregnant person” once and “women and pregnant people” twice in her “Author’s Note”, a clear sign that she adopts the woke distortion of science which asserts that biological males can become pregnant; see pages 379-81.)  If anything, these lesbian characters support heterosexual normativity since their “marriage” leads to the happy event of children, which is the desired result of the sexual pleasure enjoyed by every heterosexual marriage.

A second serious problem of this abortion diatribe is that many characters are flat and function as allegories more than representations of real human beings.  The nun who ran the home for unwed mothers where the future abortionist Evelyn gave her child up for adoption is depicted as pure evil, derisively called “The Watchdog” throughout.  No human character can ever be pure evil as Satan, not even the American criminals Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden or (to honor Marshall’s setting) the Canadian abortion zealot Justin Trudeau.  Similarly, Canada’s abortion activist Henry Morgentaler is treated like a hero or a saint instead of the killer that he was (cf. 129-30).

A possible exception to this objection, however, is that Nancy may have round character traits when she realizes that post-abortion syndrome (PAS) contributed to a significant failure in her life: the secret of her adoption, her clandestine work for the Janes, and hiding her abortion from her husband are reasons for her eventual divorce.  Pro-life sociologists have documented the effects of PAS on women for decades, and it’s good that Marshall depicts a woman suffering from that psychological disorder because of her pro-abortion activity.

A third problem of this sometimes tedious attempt to enshrine abortion concepts in the reader’s mind is that anti-life slogans interfere with the story, which is essentially the effort of a birth mother to find her daughter.  For example, characters offer the usual claptrap that abortion is “just like any other surgery or treatment” (118) or ask the flaccid rhetorical question “Yet aren’t fertility clinics and abortion clinics just two sides of the same coin?” (119).

Worse, the characters perpetuate the philosophical error of thinking that mothers have no choice when faced with an untimely pregnancy besides abortion.  For example, Nancy thinks that abortion is necessary: “But you have to do this, she tells herself” (183; italics in original).  She thinks that having an abortion is “the keystone of her future” and that “abortion is the first step to setting herself back on track” (183).

This mantra of “choice” interrupts the narrative often.  Regarding her working with the Janes, Nancy “revels in the knowledge that she’s helping other women gain power over their own lives” (232-3) and that abortionists are “all about choice” (286).  Even the tired and dated slogan used by abortion businesses (like Planned Parenthood) is trotted out to prop up the choice element: “Every child a wanted child, every mother a willing mother” (305; italics in original).

What a terribly sad narrative of terribly sad women who think that harming themselves in abortion, killing the unborn babies whom they are carrying, and alienating the fathers of the unborn children are the only “choices” they have.

A final problem of Marshall’s narrative is that it completely ignores efforts by pro-life pregnancy support groups to meet the need that Canadian women had for assistance with their untimely pregnancies.  Marshall’s chronologically-shifting work is set in Toronto from the 1970s onward, so it is either pure ignorance or abortion propaganda on the author’s part to omit the moral and material support that the pro-life organization Birthright, founded in the metropolitan Toronto area in 1968, began offering to women facing untimely pregnancies.

But then, pro-abortion writers must often disregard pro-life history since pro-life groups like Birthright assist the mother and the unborn child.  All an abortionist can do is kill one and harm the other.

Despite these serious flaws, pro-life activists can use Marshall’s myopic view of Canadian abortion history to advance life-affirming principles.

For example, although the reader must consider the source (an author who has completely bought into the pro-abortion and woke nonsense), Marshall apparently does not realize that she uses the same reasoning to support abortion that slaveholders used to justify the subjugation of African human beings: property rights.  An interesting passage from the “Author’s Note” makes this clear: “it [the unborn child] still resided inside my body.  /  My.  Body” ([373]-4; italics in original).  Thus, the support for abortion among woke activists and anti-life feminists is extremely tenuous if they must rely on a legal concept (slavery) which is abhorrent to the world.

Moreover, the five questions of right-to-life literary theory can be applied to show the vapidity of Marshall’s work.  For example, regarding the first question of right-to-life literary theory (whether the literary work supports the perspective that human life is, in the philosophical sense, a good, some “thing” which is priceless is clear): it doesn’t.  The only philosophical value that Marshall endorses repeatedly, ad nauseam, is the ambiguous “choice”—not the choice of free will or the ability to choose spumoni over chocolate ice cream, but an outdated legal opinion of a now defunct Roe v. Wade decision that allowed some mothers to kill unborn babies because those unique human beings were considered mere property of their mothers, like a purse or a car.

The second question of right-to-life literary theory (whether the literary work respects the individual as a being with inherent rights, the paramount one being the right to life) is just as easily answered: nyet again!  It is only the life of the woman who is superior to the life of the man or the life of the unborn child who is gendered either male or female.  That pro-abortion persons cannot perceive this distortion of equality between the sexes is remarkable, given all their assertions of equality throughout the last half century.  Thus, pro-life readers can point to Marshall’s polemic as evidence that it isn’t equality that pro-abortion feminists want for women, but dominance over men.

The third question of right-to-life literary theory (whether the literary work respects heterosexual normativity and the integrity of the family) can be answered affirmatively, if only because of contrast.  The desire of the lesbian “married” couple to have a successful artificial insemination of an unborn child reinforces the heterosexual normativity which their abuse of the marriage covenant implies.  If the lesbians were genuinely opposed to heterosexual normativity, then they would not seek marriage (a heterosexual practice) and would not seek to have a child (the result of a heterosexual union).

The fourth question of right-to-life literary theory (whether the literary work comports with the view that unborn, newborn, and mature human life has an inherent right to exist) is obvious: the characters conclude that abortion is not merely a choice, but a right that women have to kill.

Finally, regarding the fifth question of right-to-life literary theory (when they are faced with their mortality, do the characters come to a realization that there is a divine presence in the world which justifies a life-affirming perspective), the reader becomes painfully aware that these pro-abortion characters live carpe diem lives.  Evelyn is explicit in her rejection of religious concepts; she “hasn’t believed in any kind of god for decades now, and she doesn’t subscribe to the concept of fate.  Life is simply too cruel for those things to exist” (368).  The other pro-abortion characters, however, are blissfully unaware of any other force in the universe besides their own impersonal adherence to the nebulous idea of “choice”; the ancient universals of beauty, goodness, and truth are absent as philosophical notions which could guide their irreligious, secular lives.

While Marshall’s work need not be purchased (after all, why would anybody spend his or her pro-life dollars on a literary work whose author funds leftist and woke groups?), pro-life readers who would like to examine it in detail can always obtain a copy from their local libraries, thus saving their money for donations to pregnancy support groups.

But then, I read it so that you don’t have to.

Book reviews

George Gmitro’s Equality@Big Cypress (Viable Press, 2023)

Whether fighting slavery or its modern equivalent (abortion), Gmitro’s novel set in antebellum America illustrates the courage needed to effect social change.

The second in a series of three novels concerned with the prosecution of a young man who saved the life of his unborn child in an unorthodox way, Equality@Big Cypress provides a substantial backstory to account for why the protagonist of the first volume would have engaged in such a daring effort to save the life of that unborn child and the mother from abortion.

The controlling theme connecting both volumes is, unquestionably, courage: courage that Lance Strickland took in saving his unborn child in volume one, and courage that his predecessor, Wyatt Striklynn, took in helping three beloved slaves escape from members of his own family who were slaveowners in the antebellum American South in volume two.

The topic of the first volume in the series (Viable@140) concerned abortion and the mother’s now debunked “right” to kill the unborn child whom she might carry.  This second volume in the Write for Life series pursues other topics.  Pro-life activists have long compared abortion with slavery, as Dr. Jack Willke explained in his 1984 nonfiction work Slavery and Abortion: History Repeats.  In that nonfiction work, Willke argued that abortion is similar to slavery, which dehumanized the born person of African descent as much as abortion dehumanizes the unborn person of any race.

Gmitro’s novel can be considered a literary exploration of Willke’s claim from forty years ago.  While it was a central topic in the first volume in the series, abortion does not appear at all in this subsequent volume, yet the parallels between the unborn child deprived of his or her right to life and African slaves deprived of their right to live is inescapable.

Contemporary students may especially find it challenging to examine how it could have been possible that born human beings of one race could ever have thought that slaves—who, unlike unborn children hidden in the womb, were visible people—were considered less than human and therefore could be legally considered property.  Since the status of the slaves parallels the dehumanization of today’s abortion movement, Gmitro’s novel will disturb the radical minority of readers who support abortion, but regale others who celebrate that the faulty and now-defunct Roe v. Wade legal decision (which disordered the family relationships of father, mother, and unborn child) has been thrown into the dustbin of history.

A third-person omniscient narrative throughout, the structure of the narrative is as fast moving as a Mary Higgins Clark mystery.  Comprised of 133 chapters and a prologue and epilogue, each chapter of the 486-page novel averages less than four pages.  Most chapters end with a tease, a hook that persuades the reader to continue reading.  Each chapter shifts the action from various geographic locations (the west coast of Africa; South Carolina; Washington, DC; and others), but the shift in setting does not disturb the reader’s understanding of the plot.

In fact, the constant shifts in action in the various regions help the reader understand that the obtaining of African slaves (sold to European traders by African tribes) contributes to the description of what happens to those slaves when they reach South Carolina, for example, which then leads into what the Buchanan presidency must consider when one of the Democratic Party’s senators is caught in illegal transatlantic slave trading.

The action-packed writing style easily justifies the claim that the novel can be leisurely read in one or two days.  There are, however, significant drawbacks in the composition of the volume, mostly numerous punctuation and grammar errors, which, while not impeding the comprehension of the narrative, not only makes the reading choppy (since the reader must correct the errors him- or herself), but also casts doubt on the quality of the editorial staff reviewing the manuscript or (worse) the author himself.  It is hoped that future editions will correct these many errors to improve the quality of the volume.

Despite these drawbacks, I recommend Gmitro’s novel for high school and college students (especially those involved in social movements comparing the history of slavery and abortion) and contemporary social justice activists (especially those who fight against the woke distortion of Judeo-Christian social justice, such as the racist group Black Lives Matter and the violently pro-abortion Democratic Party).

Since Amazon collaborates with cancel culture zealots and bans conservative and pro-life books, buy this book directly from the publisher:

Book reviews

Brett Attebery’s Your Pro-Life Bottom Line (2022)

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Slightly repetitious, Attebery’s work presents solid ideas on how pro-life crisis pregnancy support centers in the Dobbs era of pro-life activism should adopt business principles to protect women from the Planned Parenthood abortion company.

Pressed for time?  Then every pro-life activist should read pages 14-17 for a glossary of business terms which pertain to pro-life activism.  Similarly, reading the executive summaries (called the “Bottom Line” of each chapter) on pages 26-34 would be sufficient to understand Attebery’s thesis (that pro-life pregnancy support centers should be run as businesses to achieve more success against abortion businesses such as Planned Parenthood).

Reading the entire book, however, will elaborate the executive summaries in a colloquial manner.

Pro-lifers can object to his claim that crisis pregnancy centers should receive more funding than legacy pro-life organizations which work for changing laws and electing pro-life candidates.  Instead of shifting such funding in an either/or dichotomy, pro-lifers should increase funding using a both/and philosophy.  However, Attebery’s book was written before the fall of Roe v. Wade, so he may not have been aware at the time of writing of the continuing need to financially support the supply side of the abortion/pro-life war as well as the demand side.

Since Amazon collaborates with cancel culture zealots and bans conservative and pro-life material, purchase this book from the other source listed on Attebery’s website:

Book reviews

Bonnie Martin’s Poppy (2022)

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Despite lugubrious paragraphs and static characters, Martin’s novel illustrates how ignorant twenty-first century young people could be about the abortion wars of the past half century before they become pro-life activists.

The paragraphs are often pages long; even dialogue is encased in the solid paragraphs and not written in lines like other novels.  Why the author chose to compose such lugubrious text cannot be determined.  Maybe she was striving to match a stream-of-consciousness of an ordinary teenaged girl?

Also, the characters are more static than dynamic.  Poppy is always obedient to her mother (slight rolling of the eyes notwithstanding).  Tucker, her classmate with whom she discusses the pro-life topics ventured in the novel, is not merely a typical handsome high school senior, but a well-balanced young man who is a faithful Catholic, pro-life activist at a crisis pregnancy center, and just a good boy.  Perhaps his only fault is that he touches his mass of hair too often.  Can any young man be that pure and holy and dripping with righteousness?  Slightly incredible say I.

Some scenes are depicted beautifully, such as the disclosure of the body of the abandoned baby (pages 250ff), which is a damning example of the callousness that some have of newborn human life.  That episode, however, concerns infanticide more than feticide, the early area of concern that Poppy has, or abortion, which she later realizes is her primary social justice issue.

While the seasoned pro-life activist would wonder how such sweet innocents, raised in a culture of high technology as ours, could be so ignorant about the controversy regarding the right to life of the unborn child, maybe that is Martin’s purpose: to reach similarly ignorant, naïve, or just plain simple-minded young teenaged girls who come to the abortion issue without the benefit of knowing the movement’s history of five decades.  If this is the author’s intent, then she may succeed with that reading demographic.

Book reviews

Bethany Mandel and Karol Markowicz’ Stolen Youth: How Radicals Are Erasing Innocence and Indoctrinating a Generation (DW Books, 2023)

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After reading this book, every parent will say, “This woke crap has got to stop, and it’s up to me to do something about it.”

The third word in the above quote was much more vulgar in the first version of this review, but I changed it because this is a book review and not a rap or trap song filled with obscenities and vulgarisms.

The problem of my editing the first sentence of this review, however, obtains: parents will be angered to the point of uttering vulgarities or obscenities when they learn to what degree that woke ideology has penetrated social institutions which were once safe for everybody, especially their children, including Disney (105ff), the American Library Association (108ff), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (136ff).

Bethany Mandel and Karol Markowicz do a stellar job of defining “woke”, demonstrating how that leftist philosophy has permeated the culture.  Best of all, the authors punctuate their several chapters with suggestions on how parents can fight back against the woke indoctrination occurring in their children’s schools and entertainment venues.  They state their purpose in writing the book clearly:

“In this book, we set forth with a few objectives: expose how the woke are infiltrating American childhood, provide parents with the tools to fight back, and tell the cautionary tales of parents who didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late.” (17-8)

Numerous paragraphs could be included in any review to highlight facts and opinions which clarify the perversity of the woke movement.  For example, the quotes culled from the book preparatory for this review take nine pages, single-spaced.  The task of determining which quotes are worth mentioning brings me perilously close to the limit suggested for quotes.

But the fear of trespassing copyright law must not stop me from highlighting several trenchant facts and opinions which the authors include in their research.

For example, some facts are simply shocking; I can see how they would easily contribute to parents’ anger against woke teachers.

“A 2018 study by San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge and University of Georgia psychology professor W. Keith Campbell published in Preventative Medicine Reports found that ‘even after only one hour of screen time daily, children and teens may begin to have less curiosity, lower self-control, less emotional stability and a greater inability to finish tasks.” (53)

Tell me again why public school teachers’ unions pushed so hard for online instead of in-classroom learning.

“By June 2020, the management company McKinsey & Company had ‘created statistical models to estimate the potential impact of school closures on learning.’  The company found that its models predicted the worst impact on the very students the equity-warriors pretend to care most about: ‘The average loss in our middle epidemiological scenario is seven months.  But black students may fall behind by 10.3 months, Hispanic students by 9.2 months, and low-income students by more than a year.  We estimate that this would exacerbate existing achievement gaps by 15 to 20 percent.’” (69-70)

Tell me again how woke teachers are supposed to be fighting for students because of “equity”, a concept that was once sound and justifiable, but which leftists took over as a tool to use against “white privilege” and other canards.

“The Biden administration was in on the crackdown of parents from the start.  In an internal memo, the NSBA [National School Board Association] revealed that they had had discussions with the Biden White House before sending the letter.  In an October 5 email, NSBA Secretary-Treasurer Kristi Swett wrote that it was President Biden’s Education Secretary Miguel Cardona who had solicited the letter from the group.” (74)

Tell me again, National School Board Association and your state affiliates, why you hate parents so much.

“In 2015, Verdant Labs released an extensive study on the political affiliations of professions.  They used political contribution data to figure out which jobs lean Republican and which lean Democrat.  What they found was that teachers were overwhelmingly Democrats.  Elementary school teachers were Democrats by an eighty-five to fifteen margin.  There were eighty-seven Democrats teaching high school for every thirteen Republicans.  School health educators were even more ideologically slanted at ninety-nine to one.” (76)

Tell me again how such partisan teachers can be fair in the classroom.

“[Ibram X.] Kendi is just one of the people banking on schools paying up to make sure everyone knows they’re not racist.  It’s a system ripe for con artists.  […]  It seems like a scam because it is.  In April of 2021, the New York Times broke a story about BLM’s co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors ‘snagging four high-end homes for $3.2 million in the US alone’.” (84)

Tell me again—  No, better not; don’t raise my blood pressure by talking about the racist and pro-abortion agitprop Black Lives Matter.

“American librarians are talking out of two sides of their mouths: they are decrying the ‘censorship’ of books that are wholly inappropriate for children while at the same time engaging in the actual censorship against classic writers like Jane Austen, Dr. Seuss, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.” (114)

Tell me again why a masterly British literary icon (a woman, too), rhyming children’s books, and a series of books about prairie life in the nineteenth century must be not only banned, but replaced with drag queens grooming children by encouraging them to twerk their little butts in public libraries.

The English professor in me recoils at the recommended verbosity and faulty causation of the following example of woke nonsense, this time promoted by the American Medical Association:

“In late 2021, the American Medical Association (AMA) released ‘Advancing Health Equity: A Guide to Language, Narrative and Concepts’ as part of a multi-year project called the ‘Organizational Strategic Plan to Embed Racial Justice and Advance Health Equity.’  […]  The document calls for doctors to change their language to insert progressive politics into everything, even statements of fact.  For instance, instead of saying, ‘Low-income people have the highest level of coronary artery disease in the United States,’ members are encouraged to say, ‘People underpaid and forced into poverty as a result of banking policies, real estate developers gentrifying neighborhoods, and corporations weakening the power of labor movements, among others, have the highest level of coronary artery disease in the United States.’  Everything must be modified to fit woke orthodoxy.” (149)

Tell me again why it’s not only improper but also wrong (in the moral sense) to tell an African American or another minority person that he or she is obese and should stop eating so much damned McDonald’s.

Quoting Dr. William Malone:

“the vast majority of childhood-onset gender dysphoria resolves naturally, ‘with 61-98% of children re-identifying with their biological sex during puberty.’  While there are no studies yet to provide comparable data for adolescent-onset gender dysphoria, one can imagine it would not be far different.” (172)

Instead of my own “Tell me again” repetition as a response to the authors’ presentation of facts, their own commentary a page earlier is a perfect conclusion to the ad hominem attacks which transgender activists use against parents who affirm that there are two genders:

“The battle for gay rights was always about acceptance—mainly, the right to marry.  For ‘trans rights’ it’s a different ballgame completely, especially when it comes to minors.  ‘Acceptance’ of a transgender child comes with body-altering modifications that can cause lasting damage.  That fact is ignored and denied by its proponents.  And if you bring up that pesky little fact, you’re told you’re a bigoted transphobe who wants eight-year-old trans kids to kill themselves.” (171)

Quoting Brian Willoughby, a professor at Brigham Young University:

“‘More and more young people,’ he says, ‘are seeing sexual content before puberty—not because they’re seeking it out, but because it’s been delivered to the smartphones their parents are buying them.  In the current generation of young people, their first orgasms are tied not to real-life experiences, but to pornography.  We know from brain research how influential first experiences are for mapping the brain, which could explain how year after year, we’re seeing fewer and fewer young people interested in sex, dating, and committed relationships.’” (199)

Tell me again why students whose ages are single digits must have sex education which does not merely show, but recommends (in alphabetical order) anal sex, exposure to “Minor Attracted People” (MAPs or pedophiles; page 201), gender bending, homosexuality, masturbation, multiple sex partners, oral sex, or other sexual practices which my innocent mind cannot understand.

Not all is doom and gloom, though.  The authors are vibrantly optimistic that parents can effect change in their children’s schools and thus eradicate the woke nonsense which pervades the culture.  They pepper their volume constantly with affirmations of how parents are the force of change.  The following are the more concise expressions of what parents can do to achieve this change:

“Parents have to start drawing a sharp line when it comes to their kids.  Our children belong to us.  The home is where we teach our children to stand up for themselves and learn they don’t have to hide their true beliefs.  There are a lot of jokes about ‘safe spaces’, a term that hit the popular lexicon when colleges began providing rooms with Play-Doh and crayons where students, the majority young adults, could hide from controversial opinions.” (44-5)

“The home is the last line of defense.  In totalitarian societies, parents have to pretend to believe the lies that kids are taught at school, lest they make themselves or their children a target.  In a free country, you don’t have to do that.  You can and should explain to children that life isn’t black and white and that America’s history is complicated, just like any other country’s history.  You can and should reassert the morals that matter in your family.  You can and should teach your child to be himself or herself and not be coerced into other people’s opinions.” (46)

“No amount of nonsense equity education can take the place of actual academic instruction, and no amount of rejiggering the standards will help.” (87)

“Many activists like [Quisha] King [spokesperson for Moms for Liberty] recommend that parents start with involvement at the school board level.  Attend the meetings, support candidates, and take seriously the local elections, as they have the biggest effect on what happens inside your child’s school.  Support candidates who want school choice.  Push for curriculum transparency.  That one should be easy, and you can assume that a school district with nothing to hide will not have a problem with telling you what they teach.” (100)

“What can parents and concerned residents do about the woke takeover of the publishing industry and library system?  Given that a great deal of the shift in kids’ literature is driven by publicly funded institutions like schools and libraries, one librarian suggested, ‘Patrons need to use the online purchase suggestion forms that most libraries have and start asking for titles!  I had already been trying to figure [out] a way to get your books into our libraries before today, but it is difficult to justify ordering from lists of different companies without a specific patron request or without surrounding libraries doing the same.’  Moderates and conservatives should also vote with their wallets and support smaller publishers in a David and Goliath fight against the massive power that Scholastic (with its in-school book fairs) and other large publishers wield.” (126; brackets in original)

“Just like with books, paying attention to one-star reviews online and looking up potential shows and movies on Common Sense Media are important steps for parents wishing to keep tabs on what their children are watching.  The assumption with any new show has to be that there will be objectionable content; and even shows we grew up on like The Muppet Show and Blue’s Clues can’t necessarily be trusted.” (131)

“We cannot afford the luxury of shutting out the outside world; we have to stay engaged, stay in the fight, and work to send wokeness to the dustbin of history.  We should do it not just for the mental and physical health of our own children, but also that of children around the country for whom there is no voice.” (164)

The volume has some flaws.  One intellectual problem is that the authors may have misunderstood that Catholic social justice is not equivalent with its distortion by woke zealots (156).  The volume itself is flawed because there are no section breaks within the chapters; thus, for example, the reader must try to follow the explication of twenty-four pages on transgenderism in schools without subdivisional headings which would help the categorization of the ideas presented.

Worst of all, the book has no index.  Faculty, parents, and students who want to quickly ascertain, for example, how the abortion business Planned Parenthood is involved in gender reassignment surgery and hormone blockers in children (pages 177 and 185) must plow through whatever chapter the reader thinks may concern that anti-life entity.  Not even the twenty-four pages of small print endnotes, giving URLs for internet access to sources (pages 271 through 295), can assist the faculty, parent, or student researcher as well as a detailed index.  One hopes this mission will be corrected in subsequent printings.

Despite these minor flaws, Mandel and Markowicz’ book is a mellifluous, yet aggravating read of the penetration of woke nonsense in American life.  It will definitely inspire parents to get involved in the fight to make education great again for their children.

Since Amazon collaborates with cancel culture zealots and bans conservative and pro-life material, purchase this book from DW Books directly:


Tracking the extremist Ohio abortion ballot initiative

Civil rights/pro-life activists:

You can follow the progress on defeating the extremist abortion proposal to Ohio’s constitution here:


Translation: abortion clinics are in it for the money.

Well, well…what have we here?  Evidence that pro-life pregnancy support clinics help women more than abortion clinics, which, like Planned Parenthood, promote abortion because of the $$$ they make off women.


Video of activity of an unborn person

These are the unborn people—human beings like you and me—whom the violently pro-abortion Joe Biden, the Satanic Temple, and the Democratic Party/DNC (forgive me for being redundant) want to kill.

Thank God there’s a pro-life movement to counter this violation of human rights!

Always remember: abortion harms women, kills unborn babies, and alienates fathers.

Book reviews

Gerard J. M. Aardweg’s Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages, and Warnings from Purgatory (TAN Books, 2009)

If you know a dead person, then you should read this book.

Now that I have your attention…

Seriously, though, Aardweg’s book is not simply an illustration of the merits of praying for the dead (a feature of Judaism and Catholic and Orthodox Christianity, long abandoned by our Protestant brothers and sisters).  It is, in contrast, an interesting summary of the theology behind Purgatory and the benefits of praying for those who have died.

Besides theology, the reader can accommodate the 134 easy-to-read pages in about two days, accounting for DuckDuckGo searches to locate more information about the persons who have seen or been touched by the dead.

That Aardweg was able to generate 134 pages of text (and 20 pages of endnotes and a bibliography) based on only ten artifacts held in the Piccolo Museo del Purgatorio (the Little Museum of Purgatory) in Rome testifies to his ability to incorporate accounts of the various seers to substantiate his thesis.

Despite the praise it deserves for bringing to the attention of twenty-first moderns the instances of souls from Purgatory reaching out to living persons, the book has definite flaws, some minor and one major.  Some sentences are not as mellifluous in English as they could be; perhaps these matters of diction can be attributed to translation deficiencies.  The major flaw is, as is typical with many books published by TAN, the lack of an index.  (What is it with that company that it produces books with no indices?  Doesn’t the company know that faculty and students may want not only to read its productions, but also to use them for research?)

Despite these flaws, since Amazon collaborates with cancel culture zealots and bans conservative and pro-life material, purchase this book from TAN Publishers directly.  At $5, the book is a steal:

Quotable quotes:

“The prevailing cheap optimism holds that […] the life of practically everybody automatically ends up in a state of bliss” (x).

“Purgatory (to say nothing of Hell), penance, expiation, God’s holy justice: these do not fit in with today’s cheerfully cheap religiosity” (x).

“Yet on balance, the place or state of purification, of God’s fathomless justice, is at the same time a place or state of God’s mercy, of hope, inner peace, and joy” (xxi).

“Typically, ghosts, i.e., souls from purgatory, seem to wait humbly until their host questions them” (7).

“Some apparitions that present themselves as souls of the dead may indeed turn out to be demons in disguise, seeking to deceive the credulous” (17).

“Souls from Purgatory and Hell have one decisive point in common: they cannot be conjured up at will” (17).

“Reports of poor souls dwelling in churches are not exceptional; these souls seem to get more ‘rest’ in holy places and places of prayer than somewhere else” (22).

“The widespread age-old belief in reincarnation or migration of the souls (into newborns or even animals) was perhaps a degeneration of an originally more correct insight; at any rate, it contained the wisdom of the necessity of some purification after death” (29).

“Offering sacrifices for the dead is an extremely old and almost universal custom that at least hints at some awareness of Purgatory, and praying for the dead is so spontaneous and human a reaction that one can hardly believe that this habit originated only a few hundred years before Christ” (30).

“The notion of Purgatory and the belief that the living can come to the aid of the suffering souls there are anything but medieval inventions.  Affirmations of the ancient Church Fathers show that the apostles themselves professed them” (33).

“It is furthermore remarkable that reports of apparitions of souls from Purgatory are highly consistent in the course of the centuries and vary but little from one historical period to another” (35).

“Terrestrial bonds of love continue after death” (36).

“The fire of Purgatory, which comprises the sufferings of the ‘pain of loss’ and the ‘pain of sense,’ is the fire of the love of God enkindled in the soul right after death” (40).

“Demons appear as repulsive creatures; if they disguise themselves as human persons, there is usually some abhorrent quality of shape or manners that puts the seer on his guard” (77).

“These apparitions clearly prove that it is the individual person and not some depersonalized, anonymous ‘soul matter’ that survives bodily death” (78; italics in original).

“It is not unusual for animals to perceive something physical, too: dogs may become scared, and cattle or chickens become restless” (78).

“The perception of a spirit cannot be reduced to a merely mental event, something internal in the seer; it is a manifestation outside of him.  He can see the door opening or a strange light that makes the objects in the dark room visible; objects (such as a light-switch on the wall) cannot be perceived anymore during the time the phantom stands before it, but as soon as it is gone, the object is normally visible again” (78).

The Bavarian mystic Sister Maria Anna Lindmayr writes, “I have always been given to understand that: how you sin, so you must do penance” (79).

“It cannot escape us that the seers of souls from Purgatory are often reported to be especially good and pious persons” (80).

Regarding why more women than men are the seers of poor souls, “it might be explained by the motherly, caring, and more compassionate nature of the woman” (81).

The seer Eugenie von der Leyen recounts how the poor soul Old Heinz “threw himself upon me and strangled me so firmly by my neck that I thought I would suffocate.  It didn’t last more than a second, to be sure, but it was horrible and totally upset me” (95).

The Bohemian widow who saw the dead, called “Ruth”, is told that the poor souls of deceased family members “stand at the door of their houses, of our former dwellings, and wait” (121).

The deceased father of a nun reports to her “that St Joseph was present at his judgment, that he had since repeatedly visited Purgatory in company of the Blessed Virgin to console him, and that he often saw his guardian angel, who came to comfort him” (132).

Chapter 5, endnote 1: “Apparitions of the dead are reported in most, if not all, pagan cultures before Christianity.  In the light of the fact that some poor souls in recent apparitions manifest animal features, to express the vices they must atone for […], one may wonder if such apparitions didn’t occur in ancient times as well, giving rise to the confused idea that some souls come back (reincarnate) in animals” (140).

Chapter 11, endnote 9: “Look at the dehumanized figures of several poor souls who came to Eugenie von der Leyen.  An exceptionally stark example was the soul that manifested itself as a snake” (145).

Chapter 13, endnote 4: “Some souls do not or cannot speak before reaching some minimal stage of purification, and when they speak, it is usually telegram-style, their answers being no more than a few key words that are all the more emotional and impressive” (147).

Chapter 13, endnote 26: “It may well be that demonic influences play a role in many cases of compulsive and obsessive needs and drives (which need not be precisely possessions proper, but rather partial possessions, or demonic obsessions and oppressions)” (148).

Chapter 17, endnote 5: “Family bonds of love and of responsibility reach over the grave” (150).

Book reviews

Daniel J. Sullivan’s An Introduction to Philosophy: Perennial Principles of the Classical Realist Tradition (TAN Books, 2009; originally published 1957)

This 1957 masterpiece can help beleaguered conservative and pro-life people in 2023 understand how leftists (either ignorant of or deliberately opposed to basic philosophy) attempt to destroy contemporary society.

I found so much of this work significant that I have annotated (either by underlining, adding parallel lines in the margins, or drawing stars of David) virtually all pages, so repeating those annotations here would be repetitious to the extreme.  However, the few comments which follow may be of particular interest to conservatives and pro-life activists concerned about, among other topics, the delusions of gender activists and anti-life/pro-abortion ideas.

For example, I think everyone has read about or seen on social media the lunacy of gender activists who claim that a man can become a woman merely by (poof!) claiming to be one.  The mental illness of transgender activists doesn’t stand a chance when confronted with biological reality, a foundation principle of Western philosophy.

Sullivan’s comments throughout the book about reality being the basis of philosophical speculation should therefore encourage those who argue rightfully that there are two genders and that no cacophonous rage shouting by a transgender person that he is female can overcome reality.

In short, dealt with it, buddy.  You have a penis and a scrotum containing two testes.  Enjoy being a man.

Similarly, abortion wrongs activists have argued that the unborn child is not a person (which is, apparently, a legal term more than a philosophical one).  In philosophical terms, this is comparable to saying that the unborn child is not a being in his or her own right.  This rejection of science is necessary if abortion zealots want to force all of us to accept their anti-human philosophy.

Again, Sullivan’s comments about being, which are passim, can help pro-life persons counter those deluded souls who think that human life doesn’t begin with the reality of fertilization.  Personhood, existence, or being isn’t granted to someone just because (poof!) his or her mother thinks so.  The right to life, the right to exist, is an essential, inherent aspect of our humanity.

In short (yes, I know: the second one in this review), pro-abortion zealots should therefore shut up already and accept the reality that a pregnant woman carries another human being and that both mother and unborn child deserve our love and protection.

Reading Sullivan’s work can be disturbing for many.  For example, Protestant Christians may ineluctably conclude that their denomination’s “Reformation” wasn’t that as much as a divorce from a coherent philosophy begun in the ancient pagan world through solid logical reasoning and refined by Western (Catholic) Christian saints for 1,500 years.  The subjectivism of the Protestant mindset would lead to the nihilism of today, and all of us suffer from that five-hundred year rupture from reality and sound logical thinking.

Likewise, a second major disturbing result of Sullivan’s work is that many would reject philosophical study because it is infused with ideas and terms developed by the Roman Catholic Church.  American Catholics know well that anti-Catholicism is a vibrant force, not only in the area of respect for life, but in virtually all of society.  Therefore, the reader may despair that many in contemporary culture could remain ignorant of the structure and depth of philosophical principles simply because such profundity is rejected by their anti-Catholic bigotry.

Fortunately, though, there is hope that conservative young people will not only resurrect the sound philosophical conclusions reached by scholars like Sullivan, but also live their lives according to those principles.  Two instances can justify this hope.

Philosophical proofs for the existence of God?  St. Thomas Aquinas makes as much sense in the twenty-first century as he did in the thirteenth.

Can the old-fashioned virtues of prudence, temperance, fortitude, and justice still apply in this utterly technological twenty-first century?  Stifled by sexual immorality; families consisting not of mothers and fathers but a mother and various baby daddies; and politicians like the fake Catholic Joe Biden supporting abortion, which harms women, kills unborn babies, and alienates fathers: all of these social realities testify to the relevance of these, not so much old-fashioned, but ancient virtues which have guided human beings in prehistoric cultures to our own.

Though brief for an introduction to a major field of study (280 pages of text, followed by extensive reading lists and an index), Sullivan’s work takes time to read, digest, and understand, so prepare at least a month for delving into his summary of 2,500 years of Western philosophy.

The presence of an index is a major benefit.  As many TAN Books customers know, works published by that firm often do not have indices, making it extremely difficult for students and faculty to conduct research without wasting time flipping through pages, hunting for a term or name.

Finally, since Amazon collaborates with cancel culture zealots and bans conservative and pro-life material, purchase this book from TAN Publishers directly: