Category Archives: Life

All Things Being Equal

March 15, 2013

America is a country founded on equality.  It is an idea formalized in our Declaration of Independence:

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Yet, the modern understanding of equality is threatening to undo us, as we become more and more fractured in our attempts to make certain that we all get an equal slice of the American Dream.  Bluntly put, equality today means that I can have what you have, no holds barred.  You have it, and I want it.  I deserve it because we are both equal.

Equality is at the heart of the battle between the sexes.  And most recently, equality has been argued at the Supreme Court as the premise for redefining marriage to provide for equality.  Equality?  How so?

Ask any child what equal means.  PieAt the age of three, he knows what to look for….my slice of the pie is just as big as your slice.  And kids have a very simple way to enforce the rules of equality.  You slice the pie.  I get first choice.

Sadly, many adults have never graduated from this simple definition of equality.  They wildly bandy the term “equality” around, as if all of life is one big cherry pie to be shared.

Children grow in their sophistication.  9871057-pizza-slice-with-everythingSharing a pizza is so much more complicated than cherry pie.  Even when the slices are perfectly cut from the center of the pizza into identical slices, there are so many ways to go wrong in getting your equal share.

  • How many slices of pepperoni are on each piece?
  • Which slice has the most cheese?
  • Does cheese matter to me?
  • If I give you my cheese, what will you give me in return?
  • If my brother is twice as tall, does he get twice as many slices?
  • What if I missed breakfast?  Can I have more than my extra tall brother?

Pie ChartWhat does equality mean?  Quite literally, it depends on how you slice it.  Some may object to reducing the arguments for same-sex marriage to a pizza party challenge.  But there is more to the comparison than meets the eye.

Cherry Pie – we all have relationships that could compare to sharing a pie.  For instance, there is the line at the box office.  Every person in line is equal as my competitor.  Our equal chance to buy tickets to the concert is governed by who got in line first.  If tickets are few and the line is long, they may restrict each purchase to six tickets.  And still, at the end of the day, they will run out of tickets and there will be the haves and the have-nots.  Some will have $300 to pay for a ticket sold online.  Many will not be able to ante up the extra money and will have to read about the concert in the papers or hope for a YouTube upload.  Every person in line is equal as my competitor.  But at the end of the day…some have…and some have not.  As my mother used to tell me, life is not fair.  I will not get everything I want.

Pizza – we all long for the relationships that are special orders, people who are essential to our life in personal and unique ways.  Every pizza is specially designed to appeal to the one who will eat it.  If we are lucky, we may have many such special order relationships.  Common understanding is that we will be able to count these relationships on one hand.  If I am lucky to have five special people that I can relate deeply to, what is the likelihood that each of these relationships is equal to all of the others?  There is the parent who is my best friend.  My spouse is committed to the fulfillment of my personal dreams.  My child protects me in a new and expanding world with challenges that I need help to deal with.  My friend of 40 years knows the history of my failings…and he loves me in spite of them.  Each relationship is special, but none of them are equal to each other.

Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary CakeHow can we reduce marriage to a simple piece of cherry pie?  That is at the heart of the premise presented to the Supreme Court justices…that equality will solve our differences.

All things being equal…there is never a day when all things are equal.  The best we can do is discern the differences and ask what those differences mean to us.

Marriage?  Special order…made especially for whom?  This is what we need to ask.


April 23, 2004:  m…m…Married?

May 14, 2004:  Order in the Courtroom!


Vaya con Dios, Papa

March 1, 2013

Nearly eight years ago, in the late evening of April 2, 2005, the world said goodbye to Pope John Paul II. Vaya con Dios, Papa.  As a non-Catholic who was preoccupied with my own busy life, I made little note of his passing.

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

His pontificate lasted nearly 27 years, but the only real memory I have of Pope John Paul II was seeing him standing in his Popemobile, waving to us as he sped up Central Avenue in Phoenix, just a block from my home.  He made 104 pastoral visits outside of Italy, and we felt lucky to witness history.

In the past month, one of my great joys has been watching the EWTN channel’s historical review of Popes.  I lived for over a quarter of a century during the lifetime of one of the world’s most popular religious leaders, but until this month I had seen and heard essentially nothing about Blessed Pope John Paul II.

It is easy to forget that the first commercial access to the Internet only happened in 1990, twelve Pope John Paulyears after the election of Pope John Paul II.  And YouTube did not officially debut until December, 2005, fifteen years later, too late even to provide live video coverage of his funeral.

From the evening of April 2, until his funeral on April 8, 2005, more than three million pilgrims went to Rome to pay homage to the mortal remains of Pope John Paul II. Some of them stayed in line for up to 24 hours to enter St. Peter’s Basilica. That would have been worth seeing.

Today, as I witness St. Peter’s Square filled with pilgrims, I am amazed at the Pope’s significance in our world.  Perhaps I should have understood this long before today.  But in an instant, being able to soak in the coverage of today’s events and revisit them on YouTube, I see for myself what the news has been reluctant to admit.  The world is lucky to be able to look to the Pope for leadership.

What an absolute joy to be liberated from the stranglehold our press has held on religious news!  If unable to contain positive Christian news in a black hole, main stream reporters have managed to intone darkly with their questions.  On NBC, a sober news anchor suggests that the Council of Cardinals might bring the church out of the dark ages and reward the liberal non-religious by reversing the church’s position on birth control.  Snide, all-knowing chuckles follow.

Changing channels, on EWTN, buoyant commentators revisit the high points of Pope Benedict XVI’s years in the papacy.  They love this gentle patriarch.  They pray for his well-being.  And cameras scan the vast crowds who love him, too.St. Peter's Square

In Pope Benedict’s Farewell Audience on February 27, he opened his heart to the crowds and shared fond greetings and memories with them:

They write to me as brothers and sisters, as sons and daughters, with a sense of a very affectionate family bond. Here one can sense palpably what the Church is – not an organization, an association for religious or humanitarian ends, but a living body, a communion of brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, which makes us all one. To experience the Church in this way and to be able as it were to put one’s finger on the strength of her truth and her love, is a cause for joy at a time when so many people are speaking of her decline. But we see how the Church is alive today!

The retiring Pope encourages the Church:

We are in the Year of Faith which I desired precisely to reaffirm our faith in God in a context which seems to push him more and more into the background. I should like to invite all of us to renew our firm confidence in the Lord, to entrust ourselves like children in God’s arms, certain that those arms always hold us, enabling us to press forward each day, even when the going is rough. I want everyone to feel loved by that God who gave his Son for us and who has shown us his infinite love. I want everyone to feel the joy of being a Christian.

Pope's Last DayAnd, with his farewell, he leaves us with his great assurance that God will endure even as we each will eventually make way for a future generation.

At this moment I feel great confidence, because I know, we all know, that the Gospel word of truth is the Church’s strength, it is her life. The Gospel purifies and renews, it bears fruit, wherever the community of believers hears it and receives God’s grace in truth and charity. This is my confidence, this is my joy.

Love, faith and hope…the Pope gives everyone a parting message that all faiths can cherish.  He is willing to open his arms wide with a humble embrace large enough for even his critics.  In the modern world of communication, his light cannot any longer be hidden under a basket.  It is a beacon, shining on the hill.

The crowds waving goodbye to Pope Benedict XVI reaffirm our trust in people and in the God of their faith.  From each face representing all nations, cultures and generations, love is transmitted to their beloved Papa.

We can see it.  We are a witness to truth.  We can share it with those who missed it.  And we can return again via the Internet to see it again, our visual memory of a cherished relationship that will pave the way for the next Pope.

Thank you for your service, Pope Benedict.  Thank you for your love.  And may you be greatly encouraged in knowing that we feel much loved, knowing you will fulfill your vow to pray for us into Eternity.

Vaya con Dios, Papa.

Economics of Family

February 15, 2013

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

It’s anybody’s guess…where the economy is headed.  And lots of people are guessing.

With Obama duly sworn in for another four years, we are headed into uncharted waters.  Tuned to the daily news reports, we try to gauge our economic plight with familiar terms:  taxes, spending, deficit, sequestration, budget, interest rates, short sales and austerity measures.

But one thing is missing from the discussion of America’s economy…the economics of family.  And it is no small thing.

We have come to treat the financial and the social parts of our lives as two completely different and isolated realms.  In politics, people are known to say, “Economically, I am a conservative, but socially, I am a liberal.”  At election time, we hem and haw, trying to decide whether to vote for economic issues or for social issues.  We couldn’t be more wrong.

At the very time when we pray for economic recovery, America seems ready to abandon its commitment to traditional marriage between a man and a woman.  Economically, our failure to support traditional marriage is also a financial decision.

Marriage is not just about a wedding cake, a piece of paper and insurance benefits.  It is the foundation of society, the supporting structure for building families and caring for children.  While we try to guess whether the GDP will go up or down next month, we do not have to guess about the consequences of deconstructing traditional marriage.

The Brookings Institute has extensively studied the phenomenon of out-of-wedlock births in America:

Since 1970, out-of-wedlock birth rates have soared. In 1965, 24 percent of black infants and 3.1 percent of white infants were born to single mothers. By 1990 the rates had risen to 64 percent for black infants, 18 percent for whites. Every year about one million more children are born into fatherless families. If we have learned any policy lesson well over the past 25 years, it is that for children living in single-parent homes, the odds of living in poverty are great. The policy implications of the increase in out-of-wedlock births are staggering.

Sadly, as we continue to keep count of the number of children living in single-parent homes, we do not seem to have the stomach for considering our personal and cultural failures that have brought us to this point.  We want a strong economy.  We just don’t want to fix the economy at the personal level.

We have reduced marriage to the trivial.  We declare it as unnecessary for fathers and mothers, men and women.  Conversely, we declare it to be the “a right” for those in same-sex relationships.

Our ambivalence about marriage is quite apparent in the educational programs being used to teach the next generation of Americans.  Teens are taught that they can have sex “when they are ready.”  We encourage their readiness for sex by supplying baskets of condoms and pills.  Now, judges have secured Plan B drugs for children of any age “if they have an accident.”  And if Plan B should fail, our government will assist our children in getting an abortion.

We are totally fixated on how to NOT have families.  Nowhere in any of our educational plan for teens do we teach them about constructing families…about the positive link between sex, marriage, and children.  This is not just a sexual issue.  And it is not a religious dogma.

It is economics!  It is basic Economics 101.  Marriage between men and women is an issue that should matter to government because it is the strongest foundation for our economic system.

If we want to revive our economy, we must open a national dialogue that truly respects traditional cropped-Family-Sunset-Beach.jpgmarriage as a valuable institution worthy of our support.  This dialogue must be more than media-friendly sound bites demanding same-sex marriage.  The same-sex debate has completely derailed our understanding of marriage.

If we want economic recovery, we must start by restoring the economics of family.  And these economics are grounded in the security of healthy marriages between men and women.

The Invisible Crowd

February 1, 2013

It is a common fantasy of the common man…and woman…finding a way to become invisible, to become the proverbial “fly on the wall” in a room, to witness happenings that would be closed to us, to hear words that would be denied us.

In 1897, H. G. Wells explored this fantasy in his famous novella The Invisible Man, where scientist Griffin finds a way to change a body’s refractive index to that of air.  In the same way as air, Griffin’s body reflected no light.  He was invisible.

Griffin, the mad scientist, was only able to accomplish his feat through mastery of scientific principles and conducting hours of chemical experiments recorded in three notebooks.  But there was an easier way.  I know.  On January 26, 2013, I became invisible…without performing one scientific trick…sharing my invisibility with a large crowd of nearly 50,000.

2013 March for Life Plaza 2On a bright San Francisco morning, blessed with perfect temperatures and clear skies, an estimated 50,000 people congregated at the Civic Center Plaza for the 9th Annual Walk for Life.  I had personally invested hundreds of dollars to make myself visible as an American who values the dignity of each human life from conception to natural death.  I had hoped to be seen.  I wished to be counted.

In the opening greeting to the crowd, the speaker asked those of us at the Walk for the first time to raise our hands.  My hand went up.  I wanted people to see me…to see us…all of us.

I shared in the mission for the walk:  Silent No MoreTo change the perceptions of a society that thinks abortion is an answer. Abortion does violence to women and to their children, both physically and emotionally. We deserve better than abortion.

I hoped to further the goal of the walk:  To be a vocal and visual message that people of the West Coast stand for life. To reach out to women harmed by abortion. To inform society of the damage done to women by abortion.

Walk for Life SF 2013 StreetThe crowd was a wonderful mix of people, each one committed to being a voice for life.  Fifty thousand of us walked the two miles to the Embarcadero. Another 500,000 marched in Washington, D.C., despite freezing snowy weather.

And for all of the people and all of the opportunities to talk with us and to photograph us, we were largely invisible.  My hotel provided guests with free copies of the San Francisco Chronicle.  I waited for a copy of the paper with a front page story and photo to take home to my family and friends.  I waited.  I am still waiting.

How do you make a crowd of 50,000 people invisible?  You work for a San Francisco news service so devoted to abortion of babies at any time and for any reason that every person at the paper is willing to close their eyes to the undeniable tens of thousands of people walking through your city.

Thanks to the Internet, I finally located the Chronicle’s story about the crowds at the march.  Instead of focusing on the 50,000 people, the reporter and photographer highlighted pro-abortion activists…across the city at Justin Herman Plaza.  The lead photo for the story showed two pro-abortion protestors with their bullhorn yelling and waving their bright orange sign:  Abortion on Demand and Without Apology.  But who were they yelling at?  Where were the 50,000 people?

March for Life 2013 Young WomenThe reporter made obligatory references to the invisible crowd in her story.  But it was all packaged in bright colors to tell another story under The Chronicle headline:  S. F. abortion rally shows 40-year split.  Abortion rally?  Clearly, those 50,000 of us attending the Pro-Life rally must have been invisible.

The Chronicle is in good company.  Local and national media are loathe to report in any significant way on the growing tide in America that supports human life…all life.  It’s OK.  I will still pay hundreds to attend the next Walk in 2014 and to be a witness for life.

The best part of walking in 2013 was to share the sidewalks with the impassioned young people who can see the truth, even in a culture that works so hard to make the truth invisible.  Life is precious.  And the coming generation of young people who are not afraid of the truth will tell the story missed by The Chronicle.March for Life 2013 Logo

The Chronicle hires the reporters and photographers who refuse to see life.  But their failure to tell this story will not prevail.  Just ask all of the parents who witness their baby growing in the womb, clearly visible on the 3D and 4D ultrasounds.

Life is precious.  Above all, no matter how hard we try, life will tell its own story.  Close our eyes, cover our ears…yet through it all…life refuses to be invisible.

Save your pennies.  Hitch a ride.  Bring your friends.  We have a story waiting to be told.  Hope to see you with me on the streets in 2014!


For full video and photographic record, with photographer credits, visit the official website:  WALK FOR LIFE WEST COAST

Cooooooool, Man!

January 15, 2013

  The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.  ― Isaac Asimov

There are not enough “o”s in Cooooooool to describe the absolutely delicious ten winners of the 2013 Cool Science Image contest sponsored by The Why Files.

Every realm of scientific study is represented in the field of winning photos.  At the macro level, Earth Atmospherea satellite image from October 28, 2012, shows the amount of water vapor in the Earth ’s atmosphere and sea surface temperatures. Brilliant colors of orange and red pass over cooler blues and greens, all of these colors wrapped in a blanket of white cotton fluffs, highlighting the unmistakable brown land of South America in the center field.   [Source: Rick Kohrs, staff, Space Science and Engineering Center]

At the micro level, under the microscope, slime mold becomes decidedly Amoebaemore attractive than its name suggests, revealed as a social group of multicellular organisms rising from the ground in a fluid modern dance of single-celled amoebae. [Source: Sheryl A. Rakowski, staff, Bacteriology]

Monkey BrainAnd in the mysterious interior realm of a living creature, we can only wonder at the images of neural pathways tracing the brain activity that produces the physical and emotional activity of the brain’s owner, a monkey.  [Source: Christopher Coe, faculty, Psychology]

Sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, from its Why Files headquarters, the goal of the contest is to highlight the aesthetic aspects of Scientific imagery obtained in the search for data that “can yield important and sometimes striking insights into nature and the way things work.”  In its third year, the contest produced 105 submissions and has now gained support from the Madison-based Promega Corp.

Science, seen as a field of analysis quantified in number and calculus is often reduced to the Magellanic Clouddispassionate exploration of the world we see, touch, hear, taste and smell.  What a mistake!  Consider the photos from the Hubble telescope.  Named with dispassion as STScI-PRC2013-17, one can only marvel at the glory of stellar material hurling through space, larger beyond imagination in a photo, yet a speck of the totality of the universe. [Credit: NASA, ESA, CXC and the University of Potsdam, JPL-Caltech, and STScI]

How amazing is this universe that contains humanity!  Yet, the unfortunate result of our accumulation of this large body of scientific information is our creation of an even larger number of people who lack appreciation for the unknown and of the magnitude of human ignorance.

The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be. ― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time

We are so wrapped up in the “pile of data” we have amassed, that we turn our back on the mysterious, the things we may never know.  We continue to map DNA.  But when the map is complete, will we be any closer to understanding the intellect that created DNA?  Sadly, the spheres of knowing and wondering have moved further and further apart.  We are a world of brains that analyze and synthesize separated from the world of the spirit that trembles with humble amazement.

The Knowable and the Unknowable…how vast the distance between the two!  We live in that vastness, our intellect confined as much by hubris as by gray matter.  The advantage we have at hand with our telescopes and electron microscopy is more than matched by the humble openness of a man who scans the skies in wonder.

Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory
in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them? [NIV]

Science and spirit are not enemies.  They are both part of the created existence.  Science can reveal both the limits of man and the realities of the absolutely extraordinary universe that is our home.  Without this understanding of the unity of science and spirit, a scientist is merely caught up in enumerating the number of genes in a homo sapien, the measuring the circumferance of the moon, and the illustrating the structure of DNA.

What a marvelous gift we have been handed in the third millennium to be able to spy into creation and share our vision through these beautiful photographs.  Most importantly, may we stand in humble awe of what we see!Bird Flying Sunset

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. ― Albert Einstein


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