Good Morning!  

It was Albert Einstein who observed, “Just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it isn’t true.” 

Asked today, most people assume the leading cause of death is COVID-19, heart disease or cancer. In reality, it is abortion: 

  1. Abortion is leading cause of death worldwide for third year in a row 

From the Christian Post: 

Worldometer, a database that keeps track of statistics on health, the global population and other metrics in real time, determines the number of abortions performed worldwide based on data obtained from the World Health Organization. The last available snapshot of the Worldometer, as it appeared on New Year’s Eve, captured by the internet archive tool The Wayback Machine, revealed that approximately 42.6 million abortions were performed worldwide in 2021. 

By contrast, only 13 million people perished of communicable diseases, the second-leading cause of death last year. The other leading causes of death paled in comparison to abortion, with 8.2 million people dying of cancer worldwide, nearly 5 million deaths caused by smoking, approximately 2.5 million alcohol-related deaths, nearly 1.7 million people succumbing to HIV/AIDS, more than 1.3 million people dying in traffic accidents, and nearly 1.1 million suicides worldwide. 

Additionally, water-related diseases caused approximately 850,000 deaths, the seasonal flu killed nearly half a million people, nearly 400,000 perished because of malaria, and over 300,000 mothers lost their lives during childbirth last year. A separate set of coronavirus statistics also compiled by Worldometer revealed that 3,524,139 people died with complications from COVID-19 in 2021. 

2. Former House Chaplain Enables Heresy, Uses Thomas Aquinas to Give Abortion Supporters Cover 

From National Review: 

There’s moral gibberish in an interview with the former chaplain for the U.S. House of Representatives. Father Pat Conroy, a Jesuit priest, tells the Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein: 

How do we, within our constitutional system, how do we get to our Catholic value in this case, [when women have] the right to choose. By the way, I want to know the American who thinks the government should take away their choice in any area of their life — any area of their life. It’s an American value that each one of us can choose where our life is going. That happens to be a Catholic value, too. That we should all use our gifts and our talents and our intelligence as best we can to make the best choices we have the freedom to make. 

Sometimes we don’t have the freedom to make really important choices because of fear, because of oppression, because of poverty, because of all kinds of things. Choice is a highly American value and it’s a church value. [Twelfth-century Italian priest and Catholic philosophical giant] Thomas Aquinas says if your conscience says to do something the church says is a sin, you are bound to follow your conscience. That’s Thomas Aquinas! 

What about the baby who is killed in the exercise of abortion? What about the right to life? He goes on to talk about the importance of racial justice. How about places like New York where more black babies die than are born? 

A Catholic priest is responsible to teach the faith, not to make people feel better about supporting abortion. Consciences aren’t helped by priests giving their blessing to evil. There is one God, and He is about truth. 

  1. ‘Mark My Words’: Elon Musk Bucks Leading ‘Smart People’ With Warning About Birth Rate 

From Daily Wire: 

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk warned against the low birth rate, describing it as “one of the biggest risks to civilization.” 

“I can’t emphasize this enough, there are not enough people,” Musk told The Wall Street Journal this week. “And I think one of the biggest risks to civilization is the low birth rate and the rapidly declining birth rate.” 

“And yet, so many people, including smart people, think that there are too many people in the world and think that the population is growing out of control,” the tech billionaire continued. 

“It’s completely the opposite,” Musk asserted. “Please look at the numbers. If people don’t have more children, civilization is going to crumble. Mark my words.” 

  1. Funds to Reopen Schools Spent on ‘Diversity, Inclusion and Equity’ and ‘Social Emotional Learning’ 

From The Daily Citizen: 

Congress passed the 628-page $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021” (ARP) last March, which included allocating $130 billion to state and local governments to “safely reopen schools.” 

But a new report from The Daily Wire’s Luke Rosiak shows that many schools are still closed and some of those funds went toward “Critical Race Theory-infused initiatives” to promote diversity, inclusion and equity (DIE) and “Social Emotional Learning.” 

Chicago Public Schools, for example, received $2 billion in “Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief” funding. But the city “earmarked $32 million of ARP money to a ‘comprehensive, culturally responsive curriculum’ developed ‘through the Curriculum Equity Initiative,’” Rosiak reported. 

Yesterday, the Chicago Teachers Unions voted to shut down in-person learning, with 73% of teachers in support of the walkout. So much for local districts preparing to “safely reopen.” 

  1. In 2021, Encounters of Unaccompanied Children Along Southern Border Increased Dramatically 

From The Daily Citizen: 

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released agency statistics on Monday, January 3 showing a massive increase in the amount of drugs seized at the southern border in 2021. The number of unaccompanied children (UC) encountered along the border also increased dramatically last year. 

“The operational statistics for Fiscal Year 2021 show the breadth and scope of CBP’s mission, which encompasses travel and trade, drug interdiction, and border security,” said CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus. “These are not just numbers; they reflect the commitment of CBP’s workforce to their mission, to protecting the American people, and to fighting modern-day slavery.” 

The CBP said that it seized 624,500 pounds of drugs across the border in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. 

Comparing FY 2020 to FY 2021, 

  • Cocaine seizures increased 68%; 
  • Methamphetamine seizures increased 7%; 
  • Heroin seizures decreased 6%; 
  • Fentanyl seizures increased 134%. 

Late last year, The Daily Citizen reported on the ongoing drug epidemic in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that from May 2020 to April 2021, 100,306 Americans died from a drug overdose – an all-time high, and a tragic milestone. 

  1. American Safetyism Makes Parenting Harder and Scarier 

From the Washington Examiner: 

“Parenting isn’t about minimizing risk to your children,” a mother in Arizona once wrote to me. “It’s about eliminating risk.” 

This pernicious notion doesn’t only infect the minds of parents. It also drives school and government officials, including child protective services, to impose draconian rules that punish parents who make slight slip-ups or even those who do something completely safe but that violates the rules of safetyism. 

The end result is parenting made much more difficult. Safetyism probably also drives down the birthrate both by terrifying parents and would-be parents and by making parenting so much more laborious and time-consuming than it should be. 

Lenore Skenazy has spent years inveighing against this mindset and documenting the absurdities and atrocities committed in the name of “child safety.” Last week, she published her year-end worst-of list . Some highlights (lowlights). 

  • A Nevada mother let her 8- and 10-year-old sons play at the end of their dead-end street. That’s when “a neighbor called 911 to report two unsupervised children.” Firefighters arrived at the scene and thankfully didn’t take any action against the mother. 
  • An Ohio mother left her 10-year-old and 2-year-old in a motel room so she could work a shift at a pizza place. To “protect” those children, the police arrested her and locked her in jail. 

We need more parents to become familiar with the actual risks facing children, as opposed to the imaginary ones. We need more neighbors and passersby to help children or check in on children they think might be unsafe. This is what Skenazy calls “free-range parenting.” More of it would probably increase birthrates. 

  1. Philadelphia fire kills 13, including 7 children, officials say 

From Fox News: 

At least 13 people are dead – including seven children – after a fire erupted in a three-story Philadelphia duplex early Wednesday, officials say. 

The blaze happened at a property owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the four smoke detectors inside the building were not functioning, according to Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy. 

“This is without a doubt one of the most tragic days in our city’s history,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “The loss of so many people in such a tragic way. Please keep all these folks and especially these children in your prayers. Losing so many kids is just devastating.” 

“I’ve been around for 35 years now and this is probably one of the worst fires I’ve ever been to,” he said. “We are working with the fire marshal’s office, we plan on and intend on getting a cause for this fire. We plan on making sure that this tremendous loss of life did not happen in vain.” 

  1. Healthy Churches Embrace Evangelism, Kids, and Chaos 

From the Gospel Coalition: 

The tiny, older congregation meeting in a derelict church building is a common image when introducing the topic of church revitalization. Indeed, many churches fit the bill. The decline is obvious, especially if the church was much larger decades ago. Many of these churches were once thriving, only to go through a long season of slow deterioration. What caused the decline? How did it begin? 

Churches decline for two main reasons, both having to do with a shift in priorities. First, they lose passion for the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. As a result (second), they no longer give God glory. When a church no longer pushes outward with the gospel, the people will no longer look upward to the glory of God. A church lacking both an outward and upward perspective will inevitably move in the other two directions: inward and downward. Inward churches always decline. 

Churches that grow stronger in the next five years will focus on “going out.” The strength will be in a twofold strategy. First, the church’s culture will favor moving into the community. Second, leadership will train the congregation to be ready for evangelism opportunities

Optimistic churches also embrace children. Your church will not grow larger with the oldest generation. Older members provide stability, wisdom, and important resources, but for churches to grow and remain healthy, they must also reach, enfold, and retain younger generations. This is one of the natural tensions that will only increase as a church becomes more multigenerational. 

  1. No Optimism, Much Hope 

From First Things: 

World politics are likely to be grim. The Russian bear will continue his aggression in Ukraine, perhaps kinetically. China will intensify its pressure on Taiwan after the Winter Olympics (during which the communist regime’s massive human rights violations will not receive nearly as much media attention as the BLM movement did in 2020). Democracy will erode further in Latin America. Authoritarian and totalitarian regimes will weaponize refugees and migrants, inventing new forms of human trafficking to destabilize the West. The European Union will continue to insist (as it did recently) that limitations on the killing of unborn children constitute “gender-based violence” because abortion on demand is a “fundamental human right” that “cannot be subordinated to cultural, religious, or political considerations.” The World Health Organization will remain an obstacle to getting at the truth about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Will life in these United States be calmer? I doubt it. In the run-up to the November midterm elections, each party will demonize the other as a mortal threat to the Republic. Crackpot conspiracy theories will flourish on the internet and social media. The obscene national debt will mount. If the Supreme Court does its constitutional duty and consigns Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood to the historical dustbin where we find Dred Scott v. Sandford and Plessy v. Ferguson, fifty-one arguments over providing legal protection to the unborn will unfold across the country; those debates are unlikely to be any more rational than those involving other bitterly contested culture war issues. And as the president’s cognitive incapacities become more unmistakable, the possibility of a constitutional crisis looms.  

No matter what the vicissitudes and trials of history, Christians live in a different time zone: the time zone of salvation history. That is the truth to which the solemn liturgical proclamation of those dates attests. And that is why, however shaky the grounds for optimism, there is every reason for hope. 

10. Is Looking at Art a Path to Mental Well-Being? 

From the Wall Street Journal: 

Though making art has long been regarded as a form of therapy through self-expression, recently, the passive participation—the looking at art—is now being assessed as a different way of improving mental health. ​​“We know that for a lot of people, making art can be very therapeutic,” says Tim A. Shaw, artist and co-founder of the arts and mental health charity Hospital Rooms. “But also, making art isn’t usually an easy, relaxing thing for artists; it’s an uncomfortable pleasure.”  

A few months ago, doctors at one of Brussels’s largest hospitals partnered with—and began prescribing visits to—the city’s fine arts museums. “We’re in the middle of a crisis [that has] brought so much stress to people, and I think that culture may be the answer,” says Delphine Houba, alderwoman for culture in Brussels. The World Health Organization, in 2019, also released a 146-page report that recommends the inclusion of arts in the treatment of mental health. In the U.K., Hospital Rooms has been transforming dozens of psychiatric wards by painting their walls and filling them with art, commissioning works by artists like Nick Knight and Gavin Turk. 

Beautiful environments could impact both our mood and physical well-being, according to several studies in publications including the Journal of Psychiatric Intensive Care and Frontiers in Psychology. “Generally, beauty and music or art is very rewarding to the human brain,” says Wendy Suzuki, a neuroscientist and professor of neural science at New York University. “It can activate our natural, de-stressing part of our nervous system called the parasympathetic nervous system that slows our heart rate down. And I think that’s so important these days because our stress and anxiety levels are so high.”