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Book reviews

Aimee Herman’s Everything Grows (Three Rooms Press, 2019)

Preachy novel of a lesbian teen’s pornographic mind, pass this up and read Dickens or Hawthorne instead.

Readers may find many lines in Herman’s novel difficult to understand; they’re written in English, but the ideas are straight from leftist academia.  For example, Flor, Eleanor’s mother’s lesbian friend, is “making room for myself in spaces that try to exclude me” (19).  Come again?  Also, why Eleanor would say “my body will feel less like mine” (56) when she would begin to menstruate is an idea that must have originated from a leftist professor, not a teenaged girl.

Maybe the preachiness of the novel comes from the author’s leftist ideology.  According to the “About the Author” section, Herman is “looking to disembowel the architecture of gender and what it means to queer the body” [226].  Wha-what?  Since such a troubled woman mentions “my own suicide attempts” [224] in the “Acknowledgements”, the compassionate reader, therefore, hopes this novel is, if not of literary, then at least of cathartic value.

An annoying grammar error occurs throughout the book.  Are constructions like “Dad had Gret and I” (66) deliberate to show that Eleanor is just a stupid teenager, or is it ignorance on the author’s part?  The former may be the cause; after all, Eleanor thinks that being “a feminist is someone who believes in the equal rights of men and women” (80), omitting completely the main purpose of feminism in today’s culture (forcing everybody to accept abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever).  Even more ignorantly, Eleanor asks if abortions can be obtained at Planned Parenthood (114).  Who in the world does not know that Planned Parenthood is primarily an abortion business?

The novel has the typical elements that are supposed to attract teen readers: an abortion sequence which spans four pages (112-5), Eleanor’s lesbian episode with a stranger (142-3), or another long and laughable lesbian sex scene (188-191).

Recommendation: read only if you must write a report for school or college.

This was the fourth of five novels I examined for a presentation before a scholarly audience on recent transgender literature and the right-to-life issues.  My recommendation is that it is neither worthwhile nor necessary to purchase this novel (especially not from Amazon, which supports pro-abortion politicians), but pro-life readers may want to borrow it from their local libraries instead.

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Book reviews

Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other (Black Cat, 2019)

A lugubrious yet creative novel intended to illustrate that black lesbian feminists and transgender persons eventually achieve social success, the reader would be more interested in the ultimate success of heterosexual normativity among persons with gender dysphoria.

Evaristo’s work is certainly challenging since it lacks ordinary punctuation and reads like 452 pages of a stream-of-consciousness free verse poem.  However, it never reads as preachy despite its anti-Trump/pro-racist Barack Obama allusions or the feminist, lesbian, and transgender nonsense permeating the work.

Much of it is, in fact, comic.  Several passages can make the reader howl with delight, especially when the leftist characters talk about the usual canards of their philosophy, such as “the evils of capitalism and colonialism and the merits of socialism” (12).  The Babylon Bee should film the litany of leftist groups’ demands on management of a building they appropriated for themselves (17-8) or the passage concerned with “white privilege” (65-6).

Furthermore, the tired feminist ideology and the newer transgender lunacy will make readers laugh at the passage where a character’s mother “was unthinkingly repeating patterns of oppression based on gender” (307) or another passage where “Megan was a woman who wondered if she should have been born a man, who was attracted to a woman who’d once been a man, who was now saying gender was full of misguided expectations anyway, even though she herself transitioned from male to female / this was such head fuckery” (321).

Despite the lesbian and transgender blabber, most ordinary readers will appreciate the ineluctable trend to heterosexual normativity in the narrative.

The lesbian main character, Amma, manifests the inherent heterosexual normativity of her gender when it is disclosed that “Yazz [her daughter] was the miracle she never thought she wanted, and having a child really did complete her, something she rarely confided because it somehow seemed anti-feminist” (36).

Moreover, the abstract importance of the heterosexual family is obvious, even among these lesbian and transgender characters.  For example, the crucial role of the mother is illustrated in one powerful line: “when your own mother pretends you don’t exist, it is like you are dead” (159).  Another female character acknowledges the inherent natural law against lesbianism when she objects to her husband’s approval of Amma’s lesbianism thus: “it’s not that she’s backwards or anti-gay, it’s more of a gut response to something that doesn’t feel natural” (234).

Of course, given the leftist politics of the characters, heterosexual normativity is never completely respected and is often disparaged.  For example, Dominique and her lover Laverne reverse the usual practice of marriage between a man and a woman (getting married first and then having children) by adopting children and then entering a “marriage” which may be legal but not sacramental.  Similarly, the heterosexual appreciation of unborn children is negated in this work.  One character views unborn children as “fatherless timebombs” (128); the concern for fatherlessness is evident again in another character who “had three kids […] / who’d grow up with no fathers in their lives” (212).

One character’s anguish over being adopted (a variation of heterosexual normativity to some, but excruciating for her) is painfully succinct: “she was an orphan / a bastard / unwanted / rejected” (282).

Of course, it wouldn’t be a feminist take on the British family in the 1950s and 1960s if the novel did not include a Tarzan-like summary of patriarchy at work (in the tired language of feminist theory, “oppressing women”), as one character’s husband puts it: “me hunter – you homemaker / me breadwinner – you bread-maker / me child maker – you child raiser” (289).

Given all of the above, it is surprising, then, that, despite all the feminist, lesbian, and transgender instances which could have been vehicles to indoctrinate readers to their respective philosophies, the novel ends with an eminently heterosexual resolution.  Hattie, an old matriarch who had never disclosed that her father had taken her bastard daughter away from her and who never knew what happened to the baby, reunites joyously with her daughter at novel’s end.

While feminists, lesbians, and transgender persons, therefore, may not appreciate this denouement, the rest of us ordinary readers will laugh at the leftist lunacies scattered in the 452 pages and then simply rejoice over a happy ending.

This was the third of five novels I examined for a presentation before a scholarly audience on recent transgender literature and the right-to-life issues.  My recommendation is that it is neither worthwhile nor necessary to purchase this novel (especially not from Amazon, which supports pro-abortion politicians), but pro-life readers may want to borrow it from their local libraries instead.

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Book reviews

M-E Girard’s Girl Mans Up (HarperTeen, 2016)

A typical teen abortion novel with transgender stuff thrown in for no sufficient reason except to try to make a longwinded narrative sexy, read only if you must write a report for school or college.

Pen, the main character, is supposed to be a lesbian and transgender character, but most readers would conclude that wanting to style her hair or wear jeans as men do isn’t a sufficient reason for a biological female to pursue an aggressive LGBTQ lifestyle, which distorts heterosexual normativity.

The abortion episode in the novel is just as irrelevant as the transgender ones.  The father abandons both mother and unborn child, the child is killed, and the teen lovers split up.  Pen’s role is the same as any other collaborator in the abortion killing.  Her being transgender has nothing to do with the killing of the unborn child.

Finally, the sexual scenes in the novel are standard fare for publishers to entice teens to read their books.  The lesbian sex scenes are juvenile and laughable.  Somewhat more interesting are the depictions of the male characters who obviously have not learned what male sexuality is all about.  Pen’s video-game buddies, the males in Pen’s high school, all think that male sexuality just concerns ejaculation.  These boys have obviously swallowed the secularist philosophy of the abortion business Planned Parenthood, which grooms young people to think that sex is an activity that anybody can (and must) engage in solely for pleasure.  Is it possible those selfish sacks of male hormones will realize that sex is an expression of love between a husband and wife for the two purposes of uniting them in intense sexual pleasure and having their activity be open to the creation of new life?

Nah, these boys just want to squirt.  As one says, “I just wanna have fun and get laid” (30).

More interesting, however, are the passages where Pen’s language falters as she considers her gender dysphoria.  She knows she is a biological female; she recognizes that she is “a girl” (323) and that “Girls can’t decide they’re not girls anymore” (335).  The reader should therefore feel some compassion for how screwed up she has become in not understanding that her gender was not “assigned” at birth, but recognized.

Pen’s confusion over language can be illustrated by two passages.  The first regards the words “dude” vs. “girl”: “It’s like one second, I should be a better dude.  I should stop being such a girly douche, and I should just man up.  Then, it’s the opposite: I’m too much of a guy, and it’s not right.  I should be a girl, because that’s what I’m supposed to be” (42).

The second passage questions language which offered standard definitions in American English for years, some for centuries, to denote sexual deviancy in general:

“I don’t think of myself as being gay, because that word sounds like it belongs to some guy.  Lesbian makes me think of some forty-year-old woman.  And queer feels like it can mean anything, but like—am I queer because I like girls, or because I look the way I do?  Maybe I don’t know enough words” (65; italics in original)

Is this novel worth reading?  It can be if you must write a report for school.  It can be worthwhile if only to illustrate that even transgender authors like Girard will eventually produce novels which support heterosexual normativity.  It can even be helpful to show that transgender authors incorrectly presume that they must write pro-abortion works when they should realize that being transgender has nothing to do with abortion, which harms women, kills unborn babies, and alienates fathers—an eminently heterosexual thing for them to consider, which may account for their difficulty in depicting abortion episodes from the real world.

This was the second of five novels I examined for a presentation before a scholarly audience on recent transgender literature and the right-to-life issues.  My recommendation is that it is neither worthwhile nor necessary to purchase this novel (especially not from Amazon, which supports pro-abortion politicians), but pro-life readers may want to borrow it from their local libraries instead.

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Book reviews

Vickie Weaver’s Billie Girl (Leapfrog Press, 2010)

A typical anti-motherhood and pro-euthanasia narrative, Weaver’s novel almost makes the reader happy that the godforsaken eponymous main character commits suicide at novel’s end.

Weaver’s novel traces the life of Billie Girl from babyhood to old age.  Abandoned by her parents, raised by transgender “mothers”, manipulated by a boy who wanted her to masturbate him, and living with various men who use her as their sexual objects, one would hope that a woman who undergoes these abuses would realize that she has the opportunity to rise above her trauma, to love life, and to help others.

Unfortunately, Billie illustrates the opposite, and so the novel repeats a common plot of women with tragic lives who perpetuate tragedy in fellow human beings.  Billie does not change her life’s trajectory from being a victim to overcoming bad influences in her life.  She will continue to slither from one man to another, never considering that marriage is a sacrament.  The sexual activity she engages in with the various men in her life is just something to do to occupy her time.  Billie’s philosophy is succinctly offered in the ambiguous claim that “We do what we have to do” (132).

Most distressing, however, is Billie’s adoption of standard anti-life ideas.  She never wanted her stillborn child because “I had never wanted to be a mother” (132).  Moreover, like other novels with characters who deny motherhood or who support abortion, Billie’s attitude toward the elderly is explicitly anti-life.  She calls the elderly in the nursing home where she resides “other old, useless, decomposing human beings—most of them not in their right minds” [221].  The cavalier way in which she describes killing people is remarkable.  The tortured syntax of saying that “The next two residents I sent on their way” (225) is brutal, yet a literary gem.  Killing a nursing home resident because “She had pooped in the bed” (228) almost gives the reader delight, if not a sense of divine justice, in knowing that such an evil person as Billie eventually commits suicide.

Billie thus has a didactic function to perform for contemporary readers.  Pro-life readers can use Weaver’s novel to be vigilant against those who disrespect human life, whether the life of others or their own.

This was the first of five novels I examined for a presentation before a scholarly audience on recent transgender literature and the right-to-life issues.  My recommendation is that it is neither worthwhile nor necessary to purchase this novel (especially not from Amazon, which supports pro-abortion politicians), but pro-life readers may want to borrow it from their local libraries instead.

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Book reviews

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun (Vintage International, 2021)

Interesting casual reading, functioning as a warning for parents against genetic editing of their children and for children not to rely on “Artificial Friends” for companionship.

Ishiguro has depicted once again a dystopian world like his Never Let Me Go which entertains, but serves the didactic function of literature more.  The novel is an admonition for parents, showing the negative effects of “uplifting” their children by genetic editing.  The work also serves to caution children and young adults not to rely on the AFs (Artificial Friends) created for them.

One thinks immediately of the hundreds or thousands of “friends” whom many young people have on social media services like Facebook or Twitter.  Is the art of friendship so lost among our youth that they rely on the sanitized profiles of anyone on the Internet?

One part of the plot is weak and implausible.  Klara, the AF for the human Josie, plans to destroy only one machine which she thinks will help stop the pollution that she thinks is responsible for making her human feeble.  Since AFs are supposed to be intelligent, if Klara were that intelligent, wouldn’t she know that much more would be necessary to save the life of her human?  Despite this weakness, the narrative proceeds strongly enough so that the reader doesn’t know with certainty until page 243 that being “lifted” means that children are enhanced by “genetic editing.”

Is the moral of the novel, then, that it’s perfectly human for kids to be stupid?  Not necessarily.  Besides, if any parent wants STOOPID kids, then he or she will send his or her children to public schools and then leftist colleges or have them vote Democrat.

There are, however, two conclusions one can reach from the novel.

First, work with the abilities that children naturally have.

Second, yank those damned Xbox and phones saturated with social media apps out of kids’ hands and then kick the kids out of the house to play in the back yard with other children.

A penultimate thought: religious readers will see through the stupidity of those adults who come close but never near enough to recognize that human beings have souls.  Witness the following passages where characters hint at that bit of immortality given to them by God yet never reach it:

“Our generation still carry [verb tense in original] the old feelings.  A part of us refuses to let go.  The part that wants to keep believing there’s something unreachable inside each of us.  Something that’s unique and won’t transfer.  But there’s nothing like that, we know that now”  [….]  It’s not faith you need.  Only rationality” (207, continuing on unpaginated 208)

Similarly, Josie’s father seems to think that the “human heart” is “Something that makes each of us special and individual” (215).

Dear God, are there that many people in the reading public who can’t understand religious language?

A final thought: the last paragraph in the novel, which shows Klara in a junkyard, waiting for a construction crane to take her away, is sheer pathos since Klara seems more human than the human characters.

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Book reviews

Thomas J. Euteneuer’s Demonic Abortion: A Sobering Commentary on the Satanic Nature of the Modern Abortion Industry (Human Life International, 2010)

A classic of Catholic Christian examination of the abortion industry and its demonic nature, Euteneuer’s 2010 book is as relevant in 2022 as it was when first published, maybe even more relevant than then since abortion zealots in academia, entertainment (so-called), and government (think of the violently pro-abortion wrongs Democratic Party) collaborate to force abortion on all of us.

Euteneuer’s book can be easily read in one day, and transcribing notes using the voice feature of most email services will enhance the study of the demonic nature of the abortion wrongs movement not only for students who are fighting high school and college indoctrination, but also seasoned pro-life activists who witness at abortion mills.

Instead of elaborating needlessly about the high quality of Euteneuer’s ideas and writing style, I offer the following quotes as the ones that I deem most interesting and applicable to fighting the satanic nature of the abortion movement.

“The pro-life movement has an immense amount of resource material on issues and activities related to the effort to restore legal protection to the unborn child, but the present work is not meant to be an analysis of the pro-life issues per se.  […]  Here I examine the spiritual power that the Church can marshal in the defense of the most innocent of God’s children, the unborn—and their mothers—from abortion.  I will also relate this effort to the need to repulse other demonic attacks against the sacred institutions of marriage and the family.” (6-7)

“The term ‘culture of death’ refers to any society, region or nation where killing innocent human beings has been legalized and institutionalized.” (9)

“Planned Parenthood-style hedonistic indoctrination about sex [has] a devastating effect on the young: they hook them on birth control, indoctrinate them into alternative lifestyles and open them to the idea that abortion is just another ‘choice’ that they can make when promiscuity gets them into trouble.” (17)

“The abortion industry of today offers ritual blood sacrifice to that ancient demon of child sacrifice: it is in every way a demonic religion.  It has an infallible dogma (“choice”), a ruling hierarchy (Planned Parenthood), theologians (feminist ideologues), a sacrificing priesthood (abortionists), temples (abortion mills), altars of sacrifice (surgical tables), ritual victims (babies and also women), acolytes and sacristans (clinic workers and technicians), guardian angels (police and escorts), congregations (foundations and private supporters of abortion) and its own version of ‘grace’ which makes everything work (money).” (21)

“There is indisputable evidence now that abortion targets the very people that feminists were supposed to liberate: namely females.  Female infanticide is the ugly hidden secret of the culture of death.” (29)

“In sum, contraception is essentially the gateway drug to an immense amount of spiritual evil.  It is a bitter pill that has poisoned the human race’s very gift of procreation and seduced generations of fertile men and women into sins against God and themselves.” (43)

“Finally, abortion has contributed mightily to the fracturing of American society into essentially two opposed value camps: pagan and Christian; or those who see all truth as relative and those who acknowledge that objective right and wrong really exist and have a claim on us.  These differences are reflected roughly in our political divisions, in our social permissiveness versus true moral values, in the various opposing cultural movements which are growing in intensity each day, in the corrupt media versus the new alternative media, etc.” (49)

“It is therefore no surprise that the culture of death has grown in direct proportion to the weakening of the Catholic Church and her leadership in the past forty years.  When the Church is weak in carrying out its God-given mission, all society is weak.  When God is driven out or unwelcome in a culture, demons enter in.  Only the re-establishment of a strong, authoritative Church will heal and liberate the world from abortion.” (56)

“At an abortion mill, for example, a person can bind any of the unclean spirits that are present at that spiritual stronghold: the spirits of abortion, birth control, coercion, fear, greed, violence, witchcraft, etc. [with the following prayer] ‘In the Name of Jesus, I bind the spirit of ­­­­­ ___.’” (60)

“Abortion is a traumatic experience, physically, emotionally and spiritually, and demons can enter through this trauma.” (74)

“In general, we must always be extremely careful to present the truth about abortion in a professional fashion to an abortion-minded woman, rather than trying to scare her out of an abortion by claiming that it is demonic or will cause infestation.” (74)

“Let us never pretend that abortion is just a social or political phenomenon that has to be voted out of office to be defeated.  We must do everything we can to restore legal protection to our most innocent citizens, but our battle against the devil will not be one of the polls.  It will be won on our knees before the Lord and on our feet before the centers of death.  More than ever we need men and women of tested holiness who are willing to fight the spiritual battle for the lives of God’s precious babies and the souls of their mothers and fathers.  Even abortionists […] are caught up in a demonic religion which can be challenged and defeated by those of us who belong to the true Church of Christ, the only spiritual power strong enough to defeat the ‘sacrament’ of abortion.” (114)

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Book reviews

Lisabeth Posthuma’s Baby & Solo (Candlewick Press, 2021)

A well-written odyssey of a male teen who befriends a teen mother who rejects abortion, Posthuma has generated a fast-paced novel that transgender and pro-life activists can enjoy without being bashed over the head with woke or leftist nonsense.

So many contemporary novelists (especially those who use their writing skills to groom children and young adults to accept abortion, gay marriage, or anal genital activity) bash their readers over the head with their distortions of sexuality.  Think, for example, of Heppermann’s Ask Me How I Got Here (Greenwillow Books, 2016) or Bonnie Pipkin’s Aftercare Instructions (Flatiron Books, 2017).

How refreshing, then, that Posthuma has written a novel which contains controversial elements that develop characters and advance the narrative instead of a novel which works merely to make her readers accept her positions on contemporary biological, political, or social issues.

And the novel has much which is controversial.

You want a gay component in your casual fiction reading, a feature which every novel published in the woke United States of 2022 apparently must have?  Posthuma’s novel has it; focus on the character Maverick and his male model perfection.

You want an abortion component?  Posthuma’s novel has it; the abortion business Planned Parenthood won’t appreciate this novel, though, since the mother in question went to her appointment for an abortion but obviously rejected that choice and delivered her daughter.  Lost profit for Planned Parenthood, but an exciting narrative for everybody else.  On this criterion alone, Posthuma’s novel far surpasses the preachiness of both Heppermann and Pipkin, who struggle to disinfect the abortion company as much as they can with their stiflingly ignorant praise of the business.

You want a little bit of religion?  Posthuma’s novel has it; orthodox readers will wonder at the hypocrisy of a purported Catholic character like the mother of the narrator, Solo, and every instance of the word “God” being lower case, as though God is merely an interjection.  Agnostic and atheist readers will appreciate the life-affirming choices that not only the character Baby makes to give birth to the unborn child, but also Solo’s choice not to commit suicide.

You want aliens from Saturn sweeping the hapless and useless Joe Biden out of the White House, thus saving the planet from World War III?  Not gonna happen.  Unlike other partisan hacks who write abortion or transgender “novels” which are more didactic than entertaining, Posthuma’s work is grounded in reality.  These are real irreligious young people who swear, think sex is meant for just casual entertainment, and slither from one minor life goal to another.

You want a transgender component, another feature which every novel published in the woke United States of 2022 apparently must have to avoid being persecuted by leftist activists?  This is perhaps the most fascinating feature of Posthuma’s work, the suggestion that the narrator or his alter ego, Crystal, may suffer from gender dysphoria.  Since I like this novel, no spoiler alert will follow.  Suffice it to say that activists on both sides of the transgender nonsense plaguing the nation will appreciate the sensitivity of Posthuma’s narrative, which, unlike other activist authors, shows readers the discomfort of those genuinely confused about their gender despite their sexuality having been recognized (not assigned) at birth.

Since Posthuma’s fiction approximates real life, its 406 pages read so mellifluously and swiftly that the entire work can be leisurely read in two days.

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Book reviews

Bonnie Pipkin’s Aftercare Instructions (Flatiron Books, 2017)

Despite the pro-abortion author’s efforts to make the abortion business Planned Parenthood shine, pro-life readers can cite this book as evidence of the many negatives of the abortion behemoth—aspects that Planned Parenthood’s Marketing and Public Relations departments can never erase.

Of course, the novel has the usual components of an anti-life plot: warped sexuality (fornication), attacks on religious persons, disparaging pro-lifers, and the ambiguous use of language to refer to the unborn child.

For example, Genesis (the selfish and extremely voluble “I”, “me”, and “I” again narrator) is a young woman who is sexually “liberated”; her boyfriends Peter and Seth are just her boy toys.  Parents and grandparents are “old-fashioned” because they are religious and, ostensibly, pro-life.  Genesis’ sense of religion is a reduction to having meditated before theater class (9-10).  Peter’s parents are described as “nutso religo-freak parents” (13).

Since pro-abortion characters cannot refute pro-life ideas, pro-life activists suffer ad hominem attacks as in the case of Peter’s mother, who is demeaned as the “ringleader of our community’s pro-life, anti-choice movement” (38).  In contrast, abortionists are called “doctors” as though using this term would dignify their killing work as much as doctors who save human life (unpaginated 323).

Pipkin employs other standard tactics in the pro-abortion literary repertoire.  For example, she uses the third-person pronoun “it” ambiguously so that a reader cannot determine if that pronoun refers to the abortion procedure or the unborn child killed in that procedure.

For example, the narrator uses ambiguous language in talking about refusing sedation for the abortion when she says, “I wanted to feel it.  I wanted to feel my choice as it left my body” (unpaginated 3).  Does “it” refer to “abortion”, what she thinks is her legal right to “choose” killing another human being, or does that pronoun refer to the child killed?  Oddly, this same language and concept is repeated in one of the drama portions incorporated in this novel when Genesis tells the audience, “I need to feel this.  I need to know it’s real.  I need to feel it leaving.  I need to feel that I’m making a choice and it’s mine” (324).  Again, to what or to whom does “it” refer?

After five decades of anti-life authors writing about the abortion procedure, there is no new way to describe the act of killing, which is why Pipkin’s description of the abortion is clipped and composed of a series of nouns: “I think back.  To the click.  Slip.  Pull.  Snap of rubber gloves and metal wheels over tiled floor and my knees and thighs shaking” (62).  The description of the abortion procedure is repeated towards novel’s end in similarly mechanistic terms; the stage directions in one of the drama portions of the novel refer to “the buzzing sound of a machine” and then later, “The machine stops” (327).

All of these standard pro-abortion wrongs literary tactics are expected from a virulently anti-life author such as Pipkin, who is effusive in her praise of the largest abortion company in the country: “Thank you to Planned Parenthood, where I’ve been receiving safe and affordable care since I was sixteen years old.  Thank you for EVERYTHING you provide to the community without judgment.  I stand with you, always” (356; caps in original).

What is unique in this teen abortion novel is the recognition that Planned Parenthood has sinister sides.  High school and college students trained in close reading, an aspect of formalist literary criticism, will be able to look beyond the author’s pro-abortion bias immediately in the following lines.

For example, when Genesis wonders why Peter has not called her after the abortion, she says, “It’s not like I just had a tooth pulled” (41).  This line counters those anti-life activists who claim that having an abortion is a “simple” procedure, like a tooth extraction.

Similarly, Genesis’ description of the inside of the abortion business counters the best efforts of any pro-abortion marketing brochure.  “In the dingy waiting room where Security makes non-patients sit,” Pipkin writes, “With its gray-lavender walls and daytime television and fluorescent lights.  Trashy magazines and dead eyes” (155).

Another example illustrates Genesis’ frustration not only with her boyfriend, but also, using a typography which indicates shouting, with the business which aborted the child.  Genesis becomes angry over Peter’s leaving her “AT FUCKING PLANNED PARENTHOOD?” (221; all caps in original).  Note that she did not ask, as the author asserts, why Peter left her “at Planned Parenthood, where I’ve been receiving safe and affordable care since I was sixteen years old.  Thank you for EVERYTHING you provide to the community without judgment.  I stand with you, always” (see above for Pipkin’s sickening praise for the abortion company).  The use of the present participle “fucking”, in all caps moreover, suggests not so much a casual use of vulgar language typical of an irreverent and vulgar teen, but Genesis’ unconscious idea that there is something seriously wrong with Planned Parenthood.

Finally, Pipkin’s chapter titles betray Planned Parenthood as a place where medical attention is secondary to its profit-making motives.  Granted, all medical facilities give patients aftercare instructions, but those instructions naturally follow life-saving procedures.  Pipkin’s chapter titles, however, suggest that Planned Parenthood’s aftercare instructions are designed to minimize and cover up the killing which occurs at every one of its offices.

While some chapter titles seem innocuous; “Monitor Bleeding” (unpaginated 36) and “Recovery Times May Vary” (unpaginated 61) meet this criterion, the chapter titles quickly become more sinister as the novel progresses, such as “You May Experience a Wide Range of Emotions” (unpaginated 129) and “Talk to Someone if You Experience Feelings of Detachment” (unpaginated 144).  Given  the large number of mothers who have died at Planned Parenthood “clinics” and other abortion businesses and whose deaths are covered up by the pro-abortion media, the chapter title “Do Not Hesitate to Call with Any Questions” (unpaginated 175) could be translated by a suspicious person to “Call Us Instead of Your Attorney Because This Abortion Business Doesn’t Want to Be Sued.”

Interestingly, a series of even more sinister chapter titles occurs in quick succession, warning the mother who has aborted that “You Are Not Alone” (unpaginated 219), “If Your Temperature Reaches 100.4°, Call Us Immediately” (unpaginated 229), “A Period of Emotional Paralysis Can Occur” (unpaginated 243), “Are You Experiencing Any Regret?” (unpaginated 265), and “Support Groups Are Available” (unpaginated 275).

That a pro-abortion author would include such damning lines as the above in an ostensibly pro-abortion novel is not only fortunate for pro-life activists; it’s also a refreshing bit of honesty from those who support the harming of women, the killing of unborn babies, and the alienation of fathers.

Thank you, Bonnie Pipkin, for writing a novel that pro-lifers can use to protect women from Planned Parenthood!

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Book reviews

Heppermann’s Ask Me How I Got Here (Greenwillow Books, 2016)

Although a feeble teen abortion account, pro-lifers can use this “novel” (so-called) to show how post-abortion syndrome affects a young woman who lacks orthodox religious faith.

Heppermann’s work, a “novel-in-verse”, is anything but.  The “poetry” is feeble; the “lines” would read better if they were written as sentences in paragraphs.  Since full-length novels have the space to develop characters, this “work”, therefore, could qualify as a short story.  It still would not give Hemingway a run for his money.

Why Greenwillow Books would waste 225 pages of paper and ink like this is beyond me.  Maybe it felt that this tenuous “book” served a young adult reading audience need, I dunno.

Bad publishing and marketing choices aside, though, this “work” has some merit.  Although Addie is a typical young woman who fornicates with her boyfriend, becomes pregnant, and thinks only of killing the unborn child at one of the offices of the abortion business Planned Parenthood, the “work” does illustrate three ideas long known in the pro-life world:

1.  That mothers who abort experience post-abortion syndrome (PAS), often a short time after the killing has taken place.  This is evident when Addie’s personality disintegrates; she quits track at high school; picks fights with her boyfriend, leading to their breakup; and chooses a misguided lesbian relationship as a source of affection.

2.  That parents who are weak in their faith often abscond from their responsibility as parents in helping their teen daughters choose life.  This is the case with Addie’s parents, whose lack of firm Catholic Christian faith is evident when they say nothing about helping Addie choose life.

3.  That the abortion itself is difficult to talk about and the person killed in an abortion is always dehumanized.  This is obvious when Addie’s parents are unable to talk about the time of Addie’s abortion.  Addie’s mother refers to the abortion as “what we went through / a few months ago” (172); her father, similarly, cannot refer to the abortion:  “She never had those [side aches] before” without specifying that the term “before” is a truncation of “before the abortion” (173).  How surprising, then, to read that, when Addie writes a letter to her unborn child towards the “novel’s” end, she refers to the child as “a girl with Nick’s smile, / a boy with my eyes, / a baby” and says that she “would never want you / to hate yourself”, which suggests that Addie hates herself (211).

Maybe this novel is so feeble because the author herself is anti-life; Heppermann promotes the abortion business Planned Parenthood on the last unnumbered page of the book as one of several anti-life organizations that “exist at the community and national level that teens can turn to for help.”

This vapid “work” only takes about an hour to read; the “poetry” is ordinary language, nothing significant, so, unless you’re an English professor who must read crap like this to monitor fiction on the life issues, one can turn page after page without needing to annotate anything important.

The best way to reply to the book’s title Ask Me How I Got Here is to say, “Let’s not and say we did.”

Categories
Book reviews

Paul V. Mankowski’s Jesuit at Large (Ignatius Press, 2021)

Mellifluous, trenchant, and often witty writing on a variety of topics, this collection of Fr. Paul V. Mankowski’ s essays will inspire faithful Catholics to fight against pro-abortion priests and to affirm their Catholic Faith.

First, though, since Amazon collaborates with cancel culture zealots and bans conservative and pro-life books, don’t buy this book on Amazon.  Purchase it from Ignatius Press directly: https://ignatius.com/jesuit-at-large-jlerp/.

A few pages into reading this book, I knew I had a problem.  Besides George Weigel’s well-written introduction, which was forcing me to annotate several paragraphs, by the first couple of pages of Fr. Mankowski’s essays, I knew I had to buy the book.  The annotations were becoming so numerous that buying the book instead of transcribing notes from the library copy would save time in recording them into my electronic notes.

Why is the writing of Fr. Mankowski so worthwhile?  I offer three reasons.

First, of course, is the human element.  Every faithful Catholic who is persecuted by priests who are not pro-life or who support pro-abortion Democrats like the hapless Joe Biden or Catholics who are orthodox in their faith but are called rigid by the Church hierarchy (as the leftist Pope Francis does) can sympathize with Fr. Mankowski, a persecuted priest who died without ever knowing the praise he deserved for exposing corruption in the Jesuit order.

The book’s editor, George Weigel, notes that Fr. Mankowski “was often berated, deplored, and rejected by his own” (13).  Knowing that Fr. Mankowski was persecuted by his “fellow” Jesuits for exposing the political machinations that shoved a pro-abortion Jesuit, Fr. Robert Drinan, into the U.S. Congress colors the entire reading.  The book is transformed from a collection of essays into a dramatic narrative; the reader wants to know if Fr. Mankowski will be redeemed.

Furthermore, why is reading a book which includes a significant portion focusing on one pro-abortion Jesuit (Drinan) so worthwhile?  Weigel explains:

During his congressional career, Father Drinan was a reliable vote in favor of the most extreme interpretations of the abortion license created by the 1973 Supreme Court decisions Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton; in doing so, he helped provide political cover for numerous Catholic politicians who tacked to the prevailing cultural winds by taking a similar stand.  (15)

When Fr. Mankowski gave Jesuit archival material to another Catholic researcher, the famous Catholic historian James Hitchcock, abortion-minded Jesuits did not merely oppose him; they persecuted him:

The publication of Hitchcock’s article unleashed a firestorm of criticism, but the hot blasts of opprobrium were not aimed at Father Robert Drinan or his Jesuit enablers.  They were aimed at Father Paul Mankowski, who had given materials he had gleaned from the archives of the New England Province of the Society of Jesus to Professor Hitchcock as documentation for his article.  (16)

Fr. Mankowski himself succinctly explains why he exposed Drinan and his politically-minded operatives within the Jesuit order, basing his actions on pro-life principles which should endear him to every pro-life civil rights activist today:

Pro-lifers (of whom I am one) regarded Drinan as one of their most formidable and injurious opponents in the U.S., despite his insistence that he accepted Church teaching on abortion.  I’ve yet to meet a politically aware pro-life Catholic who wasn’t baffled and exasperated by the damage Drinan was permitted to do as a priest-congressman and a priest-lawyer.  Therefore, presented with firsthand testimony that Drinan was complicit in a ruse from which he launched his career as a pro-abortion legislator, I was fully disposed to challenge his moral authority by making the knowledge public.  (196)

One would hope that this persecuted good man was vindicated.  Unfortunately, Fr. Mankowski’s contributions in exposing the fraud of Drinan and those who collaborated in getting him into Congress despite the opposition of Superior General Pedro Arrupe were never appreciated in his lifetime.

This book, therefore, damns those pro-abortion Jesuits who oppose the Catholic Church’s respect for human life and vindicates Fr. Mankowski for his suffering and heroism.

The second reason why Fr. Mankowski’s essays are worthwhile is that they remain relevant, even the ones dating from the 1990s.  The pro-abortion zealot Drinan is long gone, but faithful Catholics still must contend with disgraces to the Catholic Faith like Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, two Democrats who, like Drinan, put “social justice” (or their distortion of it) ahead of the first civil right, the right to life, and thus vote for tax dollars for abortion, appoint judges who oppose the first civil right to life, etc.

Fr. Mankowski knew that the presence of pro-abortion Jesuits was only a symptom of a larger problem: “rot” affecting the entire order.  As quoted by Weigel, Fr. Mankowski wrote, “I believe those in command [of “the Roman Jesuit leadership”] are, for the most part, frightened to stand up to the full extent of the rot.  I believe a few positively desire the rot; they want religious life to disappear and want to be agents in its disappearance” (14).

A third reason why Fr. Mankowski’s essays are worthwhile is that they address those relevant issues within the Catholic Church in a learned, beautifully written style that often contains snarky humor.

Examples of Fr. Mankowski’s mellifluous prose can be found when he affirms working-class Catholics.  His praise for such hardworking people ranges from the simple “In effect the new liturgists disenfranchised working-class Catholics, and in particular working men, from reasonably wholehearted participation in the Mass” (30) to lengthier and more complex prose, culminating in a call to “resist” those who would distort the most significant item of Catholic worship, the Mass:

Taken together, all the visions of the deconstructionist, all the resentments of the disaffected, all the personal quirks and daydreams of the individual minister, all the globally contextualized inclusivities of the professorial hierophant, do not add up to a single reason to deprive the faithful of the Mass, the Mass in its full integrity.  Those who come into our midst mouthing the sweet words of compassion and openness are, very often, trying to wheedle us out of our birthright.  Perhaps the time has come to resist.  (37)

Faithful Catholic readers will understand immediately Fr. Mankowski’s discussion of a category of cleric he calls “tames”, priests, bishops, cardinals, and, we could add, perhaps even the current problematic (and Jesuit) Pope Francis.  These tames aim for popularity instead of orthodoxy, which, by itself, is not problematic, but Fr. Mankowski explains how the drive for popularity emasculates tames when they are compelled to collaborate with the aggressive gay and lesbian lobby.  “In the contemporary Church,” Fr. Mankowski writes:

tames serve the agenda of gays in the long run, even though they sometimes find themselves forced to take a contrary stance.  Tames are extremely susceptible to emotional blackmail of all kinds, and gays are adept at putting a thumb on the emotional windpipe of weak men in order to manipulate them.  (67)

Readers will find footnote six on this matter especially interesting:

It is noteworthy that bishops who are tames almost always have a number of gays as advisers or high officials in the chancery; once in office they are virtually powerless to prevent gays from collecting around them, and as a consequence any pressures for reform are effectively neutralized.  (70)

Fr. Mankowski’ s comments about the sexual orientation of his fellow priests are alarming.  Regarding the number of priests who have unresolved same-sex attraction, he writes:

I would estimate that between 50 and 60 percent of the men who entered religious life with me in the mid-1970s were homosexuals who had no particular interest in the Church, but who were using the celibacy requirement of the priesthood as a way of camouflaging the real reason for the fact that they would never marry.  (74)

Since persons with same-sex attraction who have fallen victim to the gay and lesbian lifestyle invariably oppose chastity and purity, Church officials who promote those virtues would necessarily be targets of their opposition and hatred.  Fr. Mankowski accounts for the Jesuit hatred of Pope, now Saint, John Paul II thus:

Over the course of twenty-eight years in the Society of Jesus, I’ve watched Wojtyła- [Pope John Paul II-] hatred turn into one of the principal subthemes of Jesuit life [….]  The dreams that progressivists surfaced during Paul VI’s pontificate—of a congregational, sexually emancipated, anti-sacral “picnic” Catholicism—were frankly infantile.  Yet Catholics over fifty will remember the emotional mist of auto-suggestion that “the next pope” would move with the times and make these dreams come true.  Not all Jesuits got smitten by this vision, but the majority did, and was stunned when Wojtyła failed to act out its fantasy.  Many left the Society to seethe outside it; others remained, and seethe within.  (81-3)

One fellow Jesuit is a particular target of Fr. Mankowski’s criticism.  Everybody knows Fr. James Martin, whose pro-LGBTQ views and opposition to the Church’s teaching on sexuality saturate contemporary leftist media.  Martin has done more damage to persons with same-sex attraction than any other by suggesting not only that gays and lesbians have been abandoned by the Church, but also that the Church must accept their homosexual lifestyles.  Fr. Mankowski counters Martin’s flaccid arguments with one succinct line: persons with same-sex attraction who live a chaste life “already live in the heart of the Church” (158), and the frequency with which same-sex persons receive the confidential Sacrament of Penance testifies to their faith.

Fr. Mankowski offers a thorough analysis of another unorthodox and famous (infamous) priest, Theodore Hesburgh, president of the University of Notre Dame.  “Hesburgh became resentful of direction—which he viewed as interference—on the part of agencies claiming superior authority, most notably the Holy See and his own religious congregation” (186), Fr. Mankowski writes, so it is understandable that Hesburgh would coordinate the Land O’ Lakes conference, which sought to separate Catholic colleges from the Magisterium on a distorted claim of “academic freedom” (186).  Hesburgh further manifested his antagonism to the Magisterium by supporting contraception (188-9).  Hesburgh relegated the right-to-life movement to an inferior position, siding instead with leftists in favor of the safer, politically-correct social justice issues of “global poverty and world peace” (189).  Unlike Fr. Mankowski, who praised working-class Catholics, Hesburgh had a “fear of being lumped with the defenders of Humanae Vitae—the thick-necked ‘red meat and rosary’ folks who typified working-class Catholicism” (190.)

Students who want to appreciate a solid writing style should study Fr. Mankowski’s use of parallelism: the repetition of “I live” (21), “gone” (60), and “every culture” (112) are exemplary.  His diction is concise, as demonstrated by his ability to translate the psychobabble of papers presented at leftist academic conferences into plain English.  For example, he brilliantly reduces one paper from the American Academy of Religion to the following: “Were I forced to decode [the presenter’s] thesis in monosyllables, I would render it thus: gay men see things in more black-and-white terms than do ‘bi’ girls” (104).

I can confirm Fr. Mankowski’s general comment about the academic preoccupation with sex, having attended numerous academic conferences whose programs read more as sex therapy or heterosexuality gripe sessions than symposia for English language and literature professors:

For want of a better term, I would call it an impulse to vandalism.  The interest here displayed was overwhelmingly an interest in aberrant sexuality—evidenced not only in repeated protests against so-called “compulsory heterosexuality” but in a macabre litany of erotic pathology: mutilation, child abuse, incest, sadomasochism, ritual castration, and so on ad nauseam.  (116)

Granted, Fr. Mankowski critiques the culture well in a learned manner, but the essays are punctuated with comic gems.  For example, there is this first-page bit of humor: “I am promised prosperous and intriguing companions by the folks who brew my beer; and those who sell my shaving cream are at pains to assure me that it will provoke the women I encounter into sexual frenzy.  (The last claim, I might add, is an exaggeration.)” (21).

Feminist nuns are an especial target of some of Fr. Mankowski’s humor, probably because they, like pro-abortion Jesuits, don’t care for the pro-life issues as much as politically-correct leftist social justice ones:

Today’s Skimpole is more likely to be a feminist than a Nazi, but both are missing something—and not just a balanced picture of God.  [….]  Feminist Skimpoles [….]  are in the same intellectual position as a pouting child at the breakfast table picking the raisins out of the bran flakes.  (131-2)

Fr. Mankowski even jabs feminist nuns while reviewing a dismally ridiculous Norman Mailer novel:

[H]e is so far behind the Heterodoxy Curve as to be unaware that his shattering innovations are little more than the platitudes of New Age suburbia, and have long been superseded by those “weekend spirituality workshops” in which feminist nuns and retired orthodontists are taught how to deconstruct the New Testament and make pumpkin bread.  (152)

This 237-page compilation ends with a chronology of Fr. Mankowski’s expose of the pro-abortion Drinan and a detailed list of Drinan’s extensive anti-life votes (229-31).  Unfortunately, the volume does not have an index, a fatal flaw from Ignatius Press which impedes faculty and student research.

Summary judgement: it’s time to canonize Fr. Paul V. Mankowski for having accomplished two major tasks, exposing corruption within the Jesuit order and living worthily as a genuine and pro-life Jesuit priest.