Why are Catholic organizations supporting Obamacare?

In this week’s video report, the American Life League leafs through the 1k+ pages of Obamacare to show how abortion is a Trojan horse in the bill.
Then ALL challenges Catholic Charities and the Catholic Health Association for supporting Obamacare, dropping this little bombshell: 5 days after endorsing Obamacare Catholic Charities got its 1st ever government contract – for $100 million. Quid pro quo….

On a grander scale, Deal Hudson at InsideCatholic.com has been writing on this topic all week. On August 10 in a piece entitled, “The risks of a ‘right’ to healthcare,” Deal wrote:

Through the official statements of the USCCB, the Catholic bishops assert that health care is a “basic human right.” Since the release of their 1981 pastoral letter on health and health care, the bishops have consistently argued that the federal government is responsible for establishing “a comprehensive health care system that will ensure a basic level of health care for all Americans.”…


Perhaps more Catholics would question the necessity of the present suggestion for health care reform if they realized the central argument – health care as a human right – is muddled and, therefore, dangerous….
To assert the right to health care as the end of the argument leaps over both prudential reasoning and the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, which stipulates that a social problem should first be dealt with at a local level before being addressed at higher, governmental levels….
Giving the responsibility for adjudicating the meaning of the health care right to the government poses obvious problems for Catholics, and should be a deal-breaker for the bishops….
Catholics will be handing the morally charged responsibility of medical treatment to political leadership whose operating assumptions about the human person are antithetical to Catholic social teaching…..

In a piece yesterday entitled, “Catholics Should Oppose a Federal Takeover of Healthcare, Period.,” Deal wrote:
jesus was a socialist.jpg

Are all Catholics supposed to become socialists in order to solve the health needs of the poor, the immigrants, the uninsured? Opposition to a federal takeover of healthcare is not just an “American” protest, it is a Catholic one, as well. A Catholic should know as well as any other citizen that the truly personal life of individuals and families should not be controlled by the state.
The current healthcare legislation, in all 5 of the bills being considered, poses a clear and present danger to the conscience and religious liberty of every Catholic. Catholics should be challenging the assumption that Church teaching is congruent with government-directed, universal healthcare. Medical care is one of the most morally-charged and private dimensions of our personhood. Why would anyone want to hand off those decisions to the federal government?
Rather than being directed by an individual’s decision-making, the government, with its own value system, will inevitably be rationing healthcare.

I concur with Deal completely and am relieved to read his thoughts. I have been bothered by certain Catholic leadership support of nationalized healthcare. I would be just as bothered if aware of liberal Protestant support as well, which I’m sure is out there.
The Evangelical Protestant perspective, which as you know is solo scriptura, is that the Church is primarily responsible to care for the poor and the sick, (importantly, the sick poor). Deal is saying the same thing from a Catholic perspective.
The government’s role is to protect citizens, and provide societal order and justice.
Mixing these roles causes societal chaos and harm. We’ve seen the government completely muck up care of the poor, since it instituted welfare, thwarting Biblical teaching, for instance, that fit people should not be given handouts. Who can forget the photo, for instance, of a supposedly homeless poor man taking a photo of Michelle Obama with his cell phone while in line for free food at a local D.C. soup kitchen in March?
michelle obama cell phone.jpg
We’ve seen the government completely muck up care of the sick, too, since becoming involved in healthcare, using that launchpad, for instance, to thwart Biblical teaching about sexual behavior.
In essence, the Church is abdicating its primary societal responsibilities by pawning the the poor and sick off on the government.
The pattern of giving also becomes hopelessly imbalanced. Whereas people used to give more to the Church and charities to care for the sick and poor, now the government is siphoning off that money and the Church and charities are getting less. Obama only plans to exacerbate this imbalance by decreasing tax write-offs for charitable giving. The principle of tithing (giving 10% to Church) becomes that much more difficult to attain.
It is good for pro-lifers to argue against abortion and euthanasia in Obamacare.
But Christians need to step back and argue against the principle of government-run healthcare.
[Top and middle photo attribution: InsideCatholic.com; bottom photo attribution: Los Angeles Times]

64 thoughts on “Why are Catholic organizations supporting Obamacare?”

  1. Well the interesting thing is that the Catholic church use to be heavily involved in healthcare. The church ran the nursing schools that trained excellent nurses. It ran Catholic hospitals whose care was the best. It ran the schools, the universities and the orphanages. Also all the best.
    By running it’s own institutions and training it’s own staff those nasty little ethical problems of conscience didn’t happen.
    And staff could implement Catholic social teaching in a Catholic atmosphere.
    The emphasis was on the good of the patient, not making a profit.

  2. I did my senior paper in high school on welfare and the BIBLICAL form of welfare. Jesus said to take care of the orphans and widows and elderly…he gave that charge to the CHURCH not government!!!!
    I remember when I was 20 and first living on my own, I lived in a cockroach infested efficiency in a poor part of town. I struggled to keep food in my belly because I was very poor. I worked very hard and little by little improved my life. It used to irritate me to no end to see welfare moms with their food stamps and welfare cards buying steak and lobster, using welfare cards to buy purses for themselves, they had their nails done and had cellphones. The cars they drove were new.
    I lived morally, worked hard and yet couldn’t afford steak, couldn’t afford a cell phone, never had my nails done in my life, and drove a ten year old car. I couldn’t afford to buy myself new things like purses and jewelry and clothes. I used to feel like “why even bother? I should just go on welfare too!”
    There is no accountability with welfare. Thats the problem.

  3. But Christians need to step back and argue against the principle of government-run healthcare.
    Amen! Our freedoms come from God and it boggles the mind to back a bill that eliminates most of them we currently have with respect to health care.
    angel, you make excellent points. For the life of me, I have to wonder if anyone at the USCCB has read the bill. There are issues there that will affect Catholic colleges with nursing or med schools. And that will affect Catholic students of conscience who are attending secular universities.
    And speaking of conscience, why is the USCCB focused only on conscience protection as it relates to abortion? It’s also an issue when Catholic providers and institutions are faced with government-mandated protocols for care.
    And why is no one speaking up about the home visits, where one of the stated goals is to increase birth intervals? Who’s naive enough to think abortion won’t be offered as an alternative to meet the goals the feds have set for those visits? Are they not aware that Catholic mothers will be facing down state-trained nurses with a state agenda?
    I wish every bishop would take time to go line by line through this bill and digest it carefully. There’s a lot to be concerned about, particularly when important details are left to the Secretary, newly created bureaucracies, and political appointees to decide and change at will.
    Why address politicians who are Catholic in name only and then lay down on legislation that renders Catholic health care workers and institutions Catholic in name only?

  4. Actually, it is quite right for governments to be involved in healthcare for the common good. This is not socialism.
    However, the common good does not include such things as abortion etc.

  5. I don’t think it’s at all ridiculous for a homeless person to have a cell phone. I have gone to the midtown Apple store (open 24/7) at 3am sometimes, after work, and that’s apparently like the “homeless hour” or something — there were quite a few people using the trial computers to check e-mail, and I saw the man next to me responding to job ads, giving — yes — his cell phone number to any possible employers.
    It’s ridiculous to expect homeless people to look like hobos from a 1930’s cartoon, with a little sack tied to a stick. The fact is that, with prepaid phones, phone-donation drives, etc, cell phones don’t have to be a massive expense at this point in history, and they are certainly within reach for people who struggle to make ends meet otherwise. Cell phones have the potential to revolutionize homelessness, in some ways, because they divorce the presence of an immediate form of contact (ie, phone number) from the presence of a reliable place to sleep. A cell phone can be, like, $15/month — less than the price of one week of food, to say nothing of rent (which would probably be necessary if you were trying to eat cheaply and thus prepare your own food).
    I think that a homeless person who has the presence of mind and determination to get a phone number and use it to get a job, even when he’s sleeping on the street or in a bus station or in a shelter, and eating in a soup kitchen, is a great example of a hard-working person who has a real shot at one day being self-sufficient. A cell phone isn’t necessarily a luxury; sometimes it can be a lifeline.

  6. The question of 100 million dollars to Catholic Charities as being the “first ever” I think is inaccurate. Actually, and correct me if I am wrong, Catholic Charities has been the recipient of tax dollars on an annual basis for some time, even more so under President George Bush’s faith based initiatives efforts.
    I will agree though that the timing of the contribution stinks. I saw the news release picture of the meeting between Obama and some unidentified representatives from Catholic Charities (or perhaps from the Bishop’s conference?) and it left me with a queasy feeling. But knowing that Catholic Charities has received tax dollars in the past and that they routinely assist people of all faiths speaks for itself. I really doubt that it is quid pro quo, especially since the Bishops’ position on universal health care has been consistent for decades.
    There have been some fairly strong statements from various Bishops on the matter of Obamacare and abortion. From listening to them it is quite clear the bishops will not support any form of universal health care that pays for abortions.

  7. Jesus was not a socialist. He didn’t believe in big government, he believed in the big hearts of individuals who would take care of the disadvantaged. “Much is expected of those to whom much is given.” I don’t recall Him mentioning politicians much in the Gospels.
    I just received an email regarding Catholics and Healthcare:
    “American Life League president Judie Brown will appear on EWTN’s “The World Over” with Raymond Arroyo to discuss health care reform with Catholic Health Association president Sr. Carol Keehan on Friday, August 14 at 8:00 p.m. ET.”

  8. Hi Janet,
    This “Jesus was a socialist” is another example of appalling ignorance and is right up there with “Joseph and Mary were homeless” and “Mary was a single mother”
    Joseph worked, he and Mary had a home, and Joseph paid taxes. They simply forgot to make a reservation for a hotel ahead of time!
    Mary conceived when single but was a married woman when Jesus was born. She was not a single mother!!
    Absolutely Jesus advocated for the poor and dispossed. Who does one think provided employment so that people would not be poor and dispossed? Bingo! The rich and upper classes. Jesus advocated OUR personal responsiblity toward our brothers and sisters in need, he did not call for social welfare programs from the Roman gov’t.

  9. Here in Sacramento, our local Mercy Catholic Hospital gives Hospital Privileges to known abortionists, even promoting them on the hospital website as “caring physicians” for pregnant women to select for their ob-gyn care! Hospital administrators claim that legally, there is nothing they can do to protect women and children from these abortionists, as long as the killings are done beyond the Catholic hospital property. We pray that our Church leaders will courageously defend LIFE, quickly rescinding Catholic Hospital Privileges from these known abortionists!

  10. Israel has a higher rate of abortions than the USA AND it is healthcare is state funded I guess you would call it socialistic. So I am not sure how this squares with your interpretation of the Bible that was written by Jews. They do not seem to consider abortion to be murder. If abortion=murder should women be executed for it ?

  11. Who said anything about the Bible?
    Abortion as a wrong transcends religious affiliation. It’s a deprivation of the most basic human right-the right to life-and anyone of any creed or denomination has the capacity to see this and oppose it.
    Abortion as murder isn’t necessarily accurate, as the woman herself is not the one carrying out the killing. I believe that typically when one hires a hitman to kill for them, it’s manslaughter.

  12. If you had ever spent any time assisting the unemployed you would probaly know that 3 things that they always need to help them get employed are an email address (they can use the public libraries computers) identification, and a working cell phone. Without these 3 things employment becomes harder. So should we provide them ? or not ? As for the person who saw food stamps being used for lobster and steak well of course what you saw was highly unusual. Most food stamps go to the working poor, not to people on welfare. Perhaps when you were working and poor you were unaware that food stamps were probably available to you ?

  13. Thanks for the heads up, Janet. Sr Carol gets under my skin but I’ll try to listen with an open mind :)
    Alexandra, I appreciate your remarks about the homeless and cell phones. Where I work I see a lot of homeless who have them for the very reasons you mention. Having said that, it also wouldn’t surprise me if MO were to stage a photo op.

  14. So confused about healthcare…
    I think that health is a right, personally, and would like to see more children insured. I just got back from the dentist two days ago and thought about what not having dental visits must be like (and in all honesty, the only reason that I have insurance, according to my mom, is that New Mexico insures citizens or children or something like that if they can’t afford it and qualify); it’s not right to see on the news of young boys who die from tooth infections that could have been prevented if only their family could afford the insurance.
    We all have to oppose the abortion aspect of this; it’s a violation of basic human rights; and I have faith in the good of the individuals voting on this (and the Blue Dogs) that they’ll remove it before the bill passes, but I personally am of the opinion that we’ve tried the old healthcare system, and it wasn’t working…we should try the new healthcare system and see if it works.
    The Republicans will gain control over the government eventually- power goes back and forth- and if the bill failed miserably, we can try a different strategy. But we have to do something; people can’t afford to pay their bills- pregnant women included.

  15. Thanks, Fed Up! I am so encouraged when I see homeless people who have cell phones. In my mind it’s like seeing someone use what little money they have to buy a fishing pole, rather than a fish — it shows initiative, planning, and motivation, as well as willpower (ie, to prioritize a vital tool that provides no immediate reward, over a very rewarding few days’ worth of food). :)

  16. “…..but I personally am of the opinion that we’ve tried the old healthcare system, and it wasn’t working…we should try the new healthcare system and see if it works.
    Not working? An 85% satisfaction rating is pretty darn good. The only people saying it isn’t working are the ones with the power to change it. Doesn’t that tell you something?
    I understand your concern, but there are free clinics all over the country with dentists and doctors who volunteer to help the poor. Perhaps at the local level these clinics can work to improve access – getting volunteers to drive people who have no means of transportation to the clinics. Parents have to be vigilant as well. If they see a problem, like a toothache, they need to find help. These problems won’t be solved by passing a law in Washington. It’s up to individuals. I think we have to be careful not to view this healthcare bill as a quick fix that will allow us all to forget and go about our merry way of living with blinders on for another ten years until a “crisis” arises again that we need to tend to.
    Passing it just to “do something” is wrong. When the roof is leaking and the paint is peeling of the walls, do we raze the house and re-build? No. We address the specific problems.

  17. On the subject of Catholics and Socialism –
    A friend of mine sent me this quote in an e-mail recently. She wrote the sentences before and after the quote as part of a longer e-mail discussing the general subject of hypocritical Catholic politicians –
    . . .And yet, Pope Leo XIII warned of the evils of Socialism, even before the rise of Nazi Germany or Stalin or Red China … he wrote of it in 1878 (yes, over 130 years ago) saying of Socialists:
    “… They leave nothing untouched or whole which by both human and divine laws has been wisely decreed for the health and beauty of life. They refuse obedience to the higher power, to whom, according to the admonition of the Apostle, every soul ought to be subject, and who derive the right of governing from God; and they proclaim the absolute equality of all men in rights and duties. They debase the natural union of man and woman, which is held sacred even among barbarous peoples; and its bond, by which the family is chiefly held together, they weaken, or even deliver up to lust. Lured, in fine, by the greed of present goods, which is ‘the root of all evils …’ they assail the right of property sanctioned by natural law; and by a scheme of horrible wickedness, while they seem desirous of caring for the needs and satisfying the desires of all men, they strive to seize and hold in common whatever has been acquired either by title of lawful inheritance, or by labor of brain and hands, or by thrift in one’s mode of life. These are the startling theories they utter …”
    Pope Leo wasn’t the only man warning of the obvious and insidious evils of Socialism, but he is among the earliest. Obama is no student of history, clearly (and apparently, neither are many Catholics). And I recognize many of our elected officials somehow try to separate what they do from their “personal beliefs,” like being Christian is a dirty little secret or something. . .
    Catholic Charities took care of me during the first 5 months of my life and facilitated my wife’s adoption as an infant also, but it might be time to re-evaluate our annual contribution. Bad move to support Obamacare before anything close to a final version exists. Why not withhold support until the reform legislation clearly and unequivocally states that taxpayers will not be paying for abortion and other non Respect Life procedures and that also clearly and unequivocally states that private insurers (if there are any left in 10 years) will not be legally required to cover “reproductive services”?

  18. Vannah,
    I almost forgot the most OBVIOUS reason for not passing this healthcare bill. We can’t afford it. Contrary to our government’s example, you shouldn’t spend money you don’t have. Look what’s happened to our housing industry. It’s gone KAPUT.

  19. “Catholic Charities took care of me during the first 5 months of my life and facilitated my wife’s adoption as an infant also, but it might be time to re-evaluate our annual contribution. Bad move to support Obamacare before anything close to a final version exists. Why not withhold support until the reform legislation clearly and unequivocally states that taxpayers will not be paying for abortion and other non Respect Life procedures and that also clearly and unequivocally states that private insurers (if there are any left in 10 years) will not be legally required to cover “reproductive services”?”
    Posted by: jsable at August 14, 2009 12:38 PM
    Thanks for posting those words of Pope Leo XIII. CC does a lot of great work. Before withholding financial support from Catholic Charities, I’d suggest contacting your local office (since they are the ones who will be directly affected) and let them know that you are considering withholding funds due to your disapproval of CC’s support of the Health Plan. With enough feedback, they may change their position.

  20. we should try the new healthcare system and see if it works.
    You raise a good point, Vannah. Before something untested is imposed on the entire country, we should have a few pilot projects to see how it works. The closest thing is what Massachussetts has, and its costs have far exceed projections. It’s a tremendous risk to put the entire country under an untested system. Adding demand (millions of newly insured) without increasing supply (no time to increase infrastructure) runs the risk of forcing the system into chaos and potential collapse. (Sounds very alinksy-like, doesn’t it?)
    Those who say that the uninsured can’t wait for a new program to be tested should ask why we’re handing out thousands per person for new cars when stimulus money could have been used to get health insurance for the uninsured while we put together a better bill and do some testing.

  21. Thanks Janet –
    I do agree, Catholic Charities does do tremendous work and it would be a tragic loss if their services were no longer available. Lost in the Catholic bashing jargon is the fact that, throughout the world, Catholics and Catholic organizations have provided the most generous and effective support of the poor, sick and disadvantaged. Withholding contributions would be a last resort type of action. Let the letter writing and phone calls begin.

  22. Those who say that the uninsured can’t wait for a new program to be tested should ask why we’re handing out thousands per person for new cars when stimulus money could have been used to get health insurance for the uninsured while we put together a better bill and do some testing.
    Posted by: Fed Up at August 14, 2009 1:09 PM
    Insuring the uninsured will save the government money. The cash for cars program has been a huge success and is saving thousands of jobs. Everything is okay.

  23. Last time I checked, cell phones with cameras in them cost more than those without, and then you need a way to save or transmit the photo you take also. The unemployed need to have a way to be reached, but not to take photos of MO.
    Uninsured people today go to the local emergency room for all their healthcare needs. They have to wait hours to be seen. With ObamaCare, they will go to a doctor’s office and wait hours there to be seen, and so will those with insurance. Obama told Joe the Plumber that we should “share the wealth”, you know, so I guess he thinks we should “spread the poverty around” too.
    It’s really sad to see so many Catholic institutions seemingly sneaking in the back door at the “ObamaNation”. They appear to be drawn to political power like a moth to a flame, and the moral consequences be damned.

  24. Across the Untited States in nearly every county in the country there a myriads of little taxing entitities known as xxI.S.D..(The I. S. D. stands for Independent School District.)
    But truth be told, few if any are truly ‘independent’ because nearly everyone of them receive federal tax dollars and there are conditions attached to those dollars which limit their ability to make truly ‘independent’ decisions. They must ensure that none of their decisions conflict with established federal policy.
    These ‘catholic’ social service agencies and institutions that have firmly attached themselves to the federal teat are no longer an appendage of the body of Christ or even the catholic church. They have become self subordinated susidiaries of the liberal humanist state.
    There is no king, but KING JESUS.
    Expressing that innocuous sentiment was enough to get Christian citizens thrown to the lions and burned at the stake in the Roman empire.
    I once met an ardent pro-life woman who was a former member of the ‘methodist’ church. She said she did not leave the ‘methodist’ church. The ‘methodist’ church left her.
    The apostle Paul referred to organized religion as dung and a whore compared to a relationship with the Living GOD who created the universe and sent HIS SON JESUS to make a way for us to be with HIM.
    yor bro ken

  25. Posted by: Hal at August 14, 2009 1:49 PM
    Insuring the uninsured will save the government money.
    The cash for cars program has been a huge success and is saving thousands of jobs.
    Everything is okay.
    And pbho is more catholic than the pope.
    Nancy Pelosi says she love ‘disrupters’.
    Sheila Jackson-Lee really cares about all her constituents.
    The checks in the mail.
    I will still respect you in the morning.
    This will only hurt a little bit.
    I know you are not stupid.
    I believe you are honest.
    Therefore the only way I can reconcile your claims about Obamacare and cash for clunkers and the state of the Union is to conclude you have taken one too many tokes off the liberal humanist crack pipe and it has seriously eroded your judgement.
    Drinks lots of water, walk slowly and listen for the ‘pop’.
    yor bro ken
    yor bro ken

  26. Hal, what the hell are you smoking?
    The cash for clunkers program cost billions more than planned. It has crushed the used car industry, hurting both lower income individuals and dealers. It has also crushed car donation charities and those they help. It also skrewed over junk yard owners who can’t sell the most lucritive part of the car.
    Go Cash for Clunkers!

  27. Last time I checked, cell phones with cameras in them cost more than those without, and then you need a way to save or transmit the photo you take also.
    I don’t know about that. I am really not a gadget-y person — I have an iPhone now, thanks to my job, but for years before that I had whatever was cheapest or free to renew my plan. And I really, really hate the gadget-y aspects of most phones (current phone excluded; it works intuitively) so after a certain point, once camera phones were on the scene, I would have to specifically seek out non-camera phones. The last two phones I had were camera phones, though, because they were what worked out best, financially, with my plan. They were what the store was pushing with discounts etc. I really didn’t care about the camera but it just made the most financial sense.
    Plus there are programs that accept donated phones for a variety of purposes — cab drivers (to encourage reporting crime), domestic violence victims (who often end up relying on shelters and soup kitchens), etc. I donated my totally crappy phone from 5 years ago, and it had a camera in it.

  28. Hi Lauren 2:38PM
    Another example of our gov’t at its most efficient. Just think, the folks who want to run the Cash for Clunkers program want to run healthcare. Hey Obama, rather than taxing us to the hilt, why not just let us folks keep our hard earned money and buy cars with that? What a novel concept.

  29. I am driving a 22 year suv with a V-8 engine that would surely qualify as ‘clunker’ (In a couple of more years it will be a ‘classic’.)
    I know this does not make good money sense but I cannot in good conscience take advantage of the ‘cash for clunkers’.
    Why should anyone else have to subsidize my ‘choice’ in automobiles?
    I don’t want to subsidize their ‘choice’ in health care.
    yor bro ken

  30. Posted by: Mary at August 14, 2009 3:07 PM
    ….”why not just let us folks keep our hard earned money and buy cars with that? What a novel concept.”
    I know you ‘know’ this but the question is even more basic. Where did the federal government ever derive the power to ‘let us keep’ our money?
    I am not a tax protestor but that statement reveals how we have all had our understanding negatively impacted by the liberal humanist statist propaganda.
    The primary purpose of good government is to protect human life and protect and provide liberty for the citizens it serves.
    yor bro ken

  31. Ken 3:26PM
    Excellent point.
    BTW, I drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee. I love it and is my idea of a vehicle. I don’t like to feel like my rear end is dragging on the street when I drive. No way do I trade it to drive some politically correct oversized lawnmower. I’ll buy another SUV.

  32. Did anyone catch the menu at the soup kitchen?
    Mushroom Risotto?! Seriously? Man, I know where to go for dinner the next time I’m in DC!

  33. Risotto is a very common and easy way of preparing rice. We served risotto more than once when I was helping at a soup kitchen. We often served “linguine” instead of “pasta,” etc.

  34. The involvement of Catholic institutions is OUTRAGEOUS, especially at this stage.
    Catholics should complain to their priests and bishops about this. Call local Cath Charities, etc., and talk to people in charge. Put pressure on them to reign in unwise Catholic institutions that back bills in the draft stage, and bills that do not honor human life in all stages or are vague about life issues.
    PRAY for your priests and bishops. And then ACT. If Church is a family, the sad truth is, beyond being embarrassing, we will all be held accountable for our brothers. So we MUST DO SOMETHING wise and kind to hold fellow Catholics and Cath institutions accountable. It is a work of mercy, and thoroughly biblical, to admonish the sinner.

  35. Alexandra, I know what Risotto is. I also know that it is very expensive. It’s about 3 times as expensive as regular rice and takes constant monitoring. Much easier to stick some rice on and forget about it than to constantly babysit risotto.

  36. The expense varies depending on what kind of rice you use; and it doesn’t require as much monitoring as people think, especially if you’re in the kitchen anyway doing other things. You can even make risotto in a rice cooker, if you have one; and you can use a lot of short- or medium-grain rices without the dish totally bombing. No, it won’t be restaurant-quality, but it will still technically be risotto.
    I’m sure it’s possible that soup kitchens are actually gourmet restaurants in disguise, using precious dollars to buy the toothless guy on the corner a 5-star meal, but in my experience it is far more likely that they jazz things up as much as they can with the fairly cheap ingredients they rely heavily on.

  37. There’s only one type of rice you can use if you’re making risotto. You could make “risotto” style rice by pushing a lot of water into normal rice, but it’s not risotto.
    I’m sure it’s not a five star resaurant, but it just strikes me as really odd that they’d be offering something that is definitely a “splurge” for our family even when I buy it and cook it myself.
    I’m not saying that a soup kitchen should serve only grub, but seriously, I never go out to eat anywhere that would even know the word risotto.
    It very much strikes me as something done because the first lady was there and very out of touch with normal people and normal soup kitchens.

  38. Substituting a variety of short- or medium-grain rices might violate some cuisine rule about it “actually” being risotto, but people do things like that pretty commonly. A friend of mine is a chef and he routinely makes “brown rice risotto” — home cooking only, not restaurant, but still.
    I think the main issue with the word risotto is that it sounds fancy, and we as a culture think of it as fancy because it’s only found in fancy restaurants. When you get into home cooking it doesn’t need to be so fancy, or so expensive. Most of what I cook is Japanese, and people often think that I’m some foodie or something, blowing my budget on sake and raw fish — but really, it’s the cheapest, quickest cooking I do. I actually only got into Japanese cooking because I am LAZY and pretty devoid of cooking skills. I make the rice in the rice cooker and freeze it; whip up massive batches of teriyaki sauce in about 5 minutes, plus a few “side” sauces I rely heavily on for vegetable dishes; flash cook whatever vegetables I have on hand. Miso soup in 10 minutes, beginning to end. People often have the impression of Japanese cooking as being fancy-schmancy, but that’s because in our culture Japanese cooking is usually only eaten in fancy-shmancy contexts.
    My other staple is Indian curries, followed by Korean staples like stews and scallion pancakes. I actually find the more traditionally “American” dishes to be more expensive and time-consuming than a lot of “exotic” dishes. I live in a neighborhood that has a strong immigrant population, and the Mexican, Indian, and Japanese grocery stores are pretty cheap when it comes to their country-specific products. (Tragically I must go to Manhattan or Flushing for the Korean grocery store. Woe.)

  39. It really is pretty funny how some of the most common foods have been elevated to delicacy status. My favorite example of this is polenta.
    It’s basically just grits, but foodies would probably take my head off for saying so.
    To me thats sort of what the sign sounded like. ZSome people who were pretty out of touch with what normal people eat trying to feel fancy smancy.
    I’m not articulating it well, but it just struck me as an odd menu item for a soup kitchen.

  40. It really is pretty funny how some of the most common foods have been elevated to delicacy status. My favorite example of this is polenta.
    Yeah, I hate that.
    I guess I see risotto as something that plenty of “normal” people eat. Mr. Alexandra’s parents once implied that I’m snooty because I rely heavily on quinoa as a staple, but it’s cheap and easy and pretty freaking normal — it just isn’t what usually passes for “normal” in their rural Kentucky setting. Risotto, like polenta, has “peasant”-y roots in some senses, and I have neighbors who eat it regularly as part of a very strict family budget.
    I guess the sign could have said, “Mushrooms on rice that was cooked in butter and broth,” but I don’t see a problem with it, for some reason.

  41. I think it might also be a regional thing. Things that are pretty common place in NYC aren’t so in areas where the only restraunts are Chili’s and TGI Fridays.

  42. Oh definitely, Lauren. I didn’t want to get into that because sometimes it comes out wrong from my side of that culinary divide. I’m sure that risotto is more often seen as an exclusively fancy food by people who don’t have easy access to foods that are not traditional American staples. But I think that something seeming “too fancy” for a soup kitchen is not an argument against the soup kitchen serving that thing. If they can do it cheaply – and they can, with risotto – then good for them.

  43. I guess it’s more a matter of perspective. If someone from my home town walked in to volunteer at that soup kitchen and they were serving something that they considered a really fancy meal, it would definitely seem odd. Not necessarally bad, but odd.
    For a lot of people risotto exists on the same level as veal.
    On a completely different topic, how is your friend’s IVF going? Is she pregnant?

  44. My friend did just get pregnant this week! They implanted 2 embryos. Her doctor thinks she will have twins, based on hormone levels. My friend decided before the whole process that she would bear twins but would “selectively reduce” anything more, so it’s good that they only started with 2. She still has nine leftover, sone of which she might freeze. The whole thing makes me uncomfortable.

  45. I’m happy to hear that she’s pregnant. It makes me uncomfortable too. I’m glad that her doctor was responsible when he did the transfer.
    IVF is such a complicated issue. I completely understand wanting despreately to have a child, and the children born after IVF are every bit as precious as those conceived the old fashioned way. I just feel so terrible about the prospect of creating children that will later be destroyed.

  46. Posted by: Alexandra at August 15, 2009 2:17 PM
    Uncomfortable? …Just uncomfortable?
    I trust she attempted to adopt first, right? Unless she’s pro-choice, and the statement about “selective mutilation” certainly sounds like it.
    I can almost garantee you those fertilized leftover human beings will be killed. But hey, so long as you get a manufactured baby out if it…
    The only problem I have with these places is that you could adopt, and really help someone, rather than go ahead and freeze a handful of human life in a risky operation that could, and does very frequently, kill small unborn children.

  47. Lol, xalisae! I wish I was smart enough to follow a recipe. I am seriously not a natural cook at all. When I’m alone — cooking just for myself and not for Mr. Alexandra or friends — it’s scary what I consider “food.” Usually a bowl of quinoa with some olive oil and salt on it. Or if I’m feeling fancy, a lime squeezed over it and maybe some tomatoes chopped up. Seriously I have been living alone for the past 2 weeks and every Monday I’ve made a gigantic batch of quinoa, and just eaten that every night. In the winter my “trademark” is a steaming hot bowl of rice with an egg cracked into it, and a little bit of soy sauce on top — stir all together and the egg “scrambles/cooks” in the hot rice. UM YEAH I just embarrassed myself.
    Abel, no, not just uncomfortable. A variety of emotions that can probably best be summed up as uncomfortable, given that a) I don’t like IVF for a variety of reasons, and b) she is a dear friend of mine and has been actively trying to conceive for five years now, and will, if all goes as hoped, have a wonderful baby soon.
    I wish she would have adopted, but she found it too expensive, assuming she didn’t go through the foster care system first, which she didn’t feel prepared to do at this point. Her insurance covers IVF so, unfortunately, there was financial as well as emotional incentive to go that route. Personally I would much rather adopt than give birth but that’s just me. She is somewhat aware of my opinion on this subject, and I have never expressed enthusiasm at progress made in her IVF journey, but I supported her emotionally with related struggles (stress between her and her husband, deciding whether or not to take a much better-paying job with much worse health benefits, etc), and now that she is pregnant I support her 100% in that.

  48. In my defense, x, I will add that I make real meals when someone else is eating with me! I am just honestly almost too lazy to eat, sometimes, much less cook something — if there isn’t some external motivation to do so.

  49. I love to cook, I just hate the cleaning up part afterward. Try making plain omlettes with a little soy sauce and sugar mixed with the egg before you cook it, and serve that with rice. It’s the easiest thing in the world, and it tastes really good.
    Congrats to your friend…but…I just get sick when I think of the foster care/adoption system(s) in this country.

  50. Oh, there are no words to describe my loathing of the clean-up. I don’t have a dishwasher so my general view is: the fewer dishes, the better.
    You just described one of my favorite things! I make this and put it in a lunch box, about 2-3x a week: justhungry.com/tamagoyaki It’s super fast and (hooray!) easy to clean up — nothing makes me angrier than washing so many dishes that I end up late for work. >:(
    The tamagoyaki woman’s sister website, geared towards lunchboxes/lunch food, is like a treasure trove for me. justbento.com She has a laser-like focus on making things quickly, cheaply, and (mostly) healthily. I make quite a few of those recipes for dinner and extra portions for lunch the next day, etc.
    I get sick at the adoption process here too. I haven’t researched all aspects of it but it freaks me out, because I would really love to adopt multiple children but it just seems so impossible.

  51. Alexandra, could you please email me some recipes? :P
    Posted by: xalisae at August 15, 2009 5:47 PM
    I was thinking the same thing. I’m always looking for good healthy recipes and I don’t like spending a lot of time cooking. :)
    I’m going to try your simple “eggs and a side of rice” recipe.
    I’m bookmarking the two food sites you suggested. The “justbento” one has some adorable photos. Thanks!

  52. Alexandra, the adoptiong process is definitely daunting! I know adoptuskids.org has some good information if you’re interested in adopting out of the foster system. Recce’s Rainbow has information and help to adopt special needs children.
    I’m not sure of any programs that help with traditional adoption, but I’m sure they exist!

  53. It seems that thirty years of aligning with the republican party on pro life issues has caused us to confuse religious conservatism with political conservatism. What a shame. We were supposed to change the republican party, but it changed us instead.

  54. Great, Janet! I love the bento site — the author is actually not very interested in making things cute (nor am I!) but sometimes the pictures are too adorable to pass up.
    I also frequently make kale chips — they take about 25 minutes or so, but they’re delicious. Mr. Alexandra’s friends like them during football games, when I make sheets of them at a time, but I just make them for myself sometimes: thekitchn.com/thekitchn/ingredients-vegetables/unmeat-how-to-eat-a-bunch-of-kale-in-one-sitting-078886 when I want a special treat — it’s not an everyday thing but it’s a nice fancy-feeling salty snack sometimes. That website is not geared towards quick cooking — or cheap cooking — AT ALL but that recipe is a fave of mine.
    Lauren, I periodically look into adoption sites but it just seems so absolutely impossible sometimes. I always get so tired just looking at all of it. Sometimes people are like, “Why do you get so upset about it? Why don’t you wait to see if you NEED to adopt?” and I’m like, “Because I WANT to adopt!” I hate that adoption is so often seen as, like, this tragic last resort.

  55. We want to adopt too. We’ve always wanted to adopt since we’ve been married. There are so many restrictions, and it definitely gets a bit overwhelming. I know that it’s a lot easier to adopt from the foster system than to try to arrange a private adoption. It used to be easier to adopt from another country, but most countries have really tightened their restrictions lately.
    We trust that God will open the door when it’s time. I’ll pray the same for you guys! I totally agree that adoption should not be seen as a tragic last option. It is a wonderful thing!

  56. Alexandra,
    Thank you for all of the tasty ideas!! :)
    If you really want to adopt God will make a way for you!! Some churches have Micah Funds to help with expenses. Most children that are special needs have the fees waived. I will be praying for you!! You too, Lauren!

  57. Catholic Charities….
    St. Vincent de Paul…
    Catholic Health Association…
    All I can think about right now is a church parishioner who works for Catholic Charities, and who has always ended every presentation with the words, “Respect for life, from conception to natural death.” … I don’t know how he’s handling this, but I’m so at a loss about the whole thing.
    Now I am fully convinced. This presidency is about destruction of the credibility of the Catholic Church. When Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is made to look like a good Catholic, and Pope Benedict XVI is made to look like a bad Catholic, you KNOW something’s fishy.
    Catholic Charities. SVDP. Catholic Health Association… Sellouts.
    Also, to address a point that Xalisae brought up,
    Who mentioned the Bible?
    Those who work for Catholic Charities, for SVDP, for Catholic Health Association… The reason you’ll see some outrage over this is because it’s a Judas Oscariot situation. Being betrayed by those who claimed to hold true to your moral values. When good Catholic institutions (and when I say that, let me stress the word good) start to endorse bad, immoral policy, we who have contributed to them, who have supported them, who have worked with them… WE feel betrayed…blindsighted… and yes, angry.

  58. Thanks, Alexandra! I love websites like those. :D
    “It seems that thirty years of aligning with the republican party on pro life issues has caused us to confuse religious conservatism with political conservatism. What a shame. We were supposed to change the republican party, but it changed us instead.
    Posted by: jeff at August 16, 2009 2:29 PM”
    Speak for yourself, Jeff. Have you ever thought that perhaps regular old conservatism makes sense overall, religious or not, and conservatism itself isn’t readily lent to flexibility, no matter what your religion is? You might want to try the other end of the spectrum. I’ve found that conservatism is more like doing the right thing because it’s the right thing and if you do that first, the good end will follow. Whereas, liberalism seems to be starting with the good end product in mind and trying to alter your approach as you go in an attempt to get to that good end. Conservatism makes more sense to me because I think you kinda have to do the right thing first to reach a good outcome, and you can’t dance your way toward one. All of this is keeping in mind of course that conservatives assume that people will do the right thing as they go while liberals believe people must be made to do the right thing by passing laws.
    Why would you want to change conservatism!?!?!!

  59. so All of the Cartholic Bishops are wrong on this matter ? Was the Pope wrong to oppose the war in Iraq ?

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