“STUNG by a BULLET ANT”–What it Reveals about Us


An entertaining YouTube video called “STUNG by a BULLET ANT” has gone viral: Its popularity is a symptom of a civilization that does not know what to do with pain.

In the video a brave young man–Coyote Peterson from the Brave Wilderness Channel on YouTube–undergoes tests of pain tolerance by seeking out ants that cause progressively more painful stings; these tests of nerve finally culminate in the horrific sting of the bullet ant, an ant which–you’ve guessed it–stings so painfully it feels as if a bullet has struck you. Peterson takes on the role of a scientist (giving us details about the creatures) and an adventurer (who spends days in the jungle looking for the elusive bullet ant which will carry out the sensational sting). Of course, after each sting, he is very gentle with the ants and places them back with their companions in the ant colony.  Peterson offers this explanation in theguardian:

“If I were to just take a bullet ant and let it walk around on my arm or look at it in a glass capsule you’d have more people saying: ‘Ah, that was interesting, but it would have been a lot more interesting if you’d let it sting you’, because that at the end of the day is what people really want to see and we’re aware of that,” he said.

“At the end of the day what we’re really hoping is these extreme episodes bring in the audience that then does find the episodes that are more conservation-based.”

So Peterson pulls people in with self-inflicted violence, so that he can teach people to interact more responsibly with the environment. The violence is a manipulative means to his end and caters to a voyeuristic audience’s thirst for spectacle.

I was both riveted by and revolted by the video, just as one might be when passing a massive car wreck on the freeway. The video has had over 17 million views in YouTube already; Peterson’s earlier videos after two years have had 525 million views. Pain is entertaining.

Interestingly, the pre-Christian culture of the Satere-Mawe tribe has had a custom of having boys undergo stings by multiple bullet ants in order to reach the status of manhood and to earn the designation of warrior.( Scroll down a bit on this link to access a video about it.)

In American society, we seem to have contradictory approaches to pain.

On the one hand, many people respect the ability to tolerate pain. We have Stoic elements in our own society. Complaining about every little thing is frowned upon. Consequently, there are comments on Peterson’s video such as the following: ‘And yet. He still didn’t swear.” And “I like how he teaches us while he’s in severe pain.” And “Wow he never once cussed wow.”

On the other hand, many Americans can’t tolerate even a small headache; they take Tylenol for it. They go to Pain Management clinics. They can’t tolerate boredom: they need to see movies repeatedly and watch sports nonstop for stimulation. They can’t bear the pain of abuse and loneliness  and despair–or boredom–and thus get addicted to drugs (or the Internet or video games) to anesthetize themselves. Academic and professional accomplishments are cut short because self-discipline is too difficult. Many go so far as to kill the unborn either to prevent a life of suffering for the children or to prevent a life of suffering for their mothers. Finally, American culture is heading more and more toward legalizing assisted suicide–and euthanasia–so that people can shorten anyone’s painful life at will. Pain and suffering is verboten. 

I think part of the attraction to Eastern thought, particularly Buddhism, in the United States, is because of its purported cure for suffering: Life is suffering; the cause of suffering is desire; the cure for suffering is the eradication of desire; and the Noble Eightfold Path is the method of erasing desire and, therefore, suffering.

Christianity’s sales pitch does not involve getting rid of suffering. The Cross is the corner stone which is at once the stumbling block–a stumbling block because it is hard to accept a Cross!

But the Cross involves meaningful suffering. It’s meaningful because Jesus’ death on the Cross serves as the paradigm for our suffering. When we intentionally unite our sufferings with Him through an act of will, we offer our sufferings up–sufferings patiently borne–for the good of our souls–as reparation for sin–and as reparation for the sins of others, in this way helping the spiritual state of all the people of the world.

In the Catholic Church, there is even discussion of “victim souls” willing to suffer to any extent God desires to carry out God’s work of reparation and redemption. Some of these victim souls develop the stigmata, i.e., bleeding wounds in the hands, feet, and side, in the  very locations in which Jesus was wounded. The Sunday Visitor sums up the approach to the suffering of victim souls and of Catholics with a more ordinary calling thus: “We can accept the pain and suffering of this life with patience and love for the intentions and benefit of ourselves and others in the Communion of Saints.”

Although Catholicism stresses that our personal suffering is to be borne well for spiritual benefit, we are not at all to be indifferent to the suffering of others. On the contrary: we are to be compassionate toward the pain of others: we are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, help the sick, visit the imprisoned, teach the ignorant, give hope to the despairing, and more . As Mother Theresa says, we are to treat other people in the way we would be treating Jesus himself–with love. Such complete outpouring of our love involves suffering on our part–meaningful suffering.

Suffering is not meaningful when we purposefully inflict pain on ourselves for attention or for thrills in risky, daredevil stunts. Aristotle tells us in the Nicomachean Ethics that the virtuous person deals with pleasure and pain appropriately–and for Aristotle that means rationally.  Reason alone should tell us the stunt with the ants (or similar such deeds) do not suit us as rational human beings. We should aspire to nobler deeds.

The popularity of a manipulative approach to pain tells us something:
It is an indication that our society does not know what to do with pain.

Marianne  Bovée




The Meaning of the Magi: Catholicism is the Truth for Everyone


On the Feast of the Epiphany, before breakfast, I opened the curtains in the kitchen and saw three mourning doves resting on the wires in our backyard. Usually, there are only two resting there, and usually it’s in a warmer season, not in the nine-degree cold of a Wisconsin winter.  Wisconsin doves apparently migrate south for the winter, but other doves, and in particular male doves, are wont to migrate from Canada and remain in Wisconsin during the frosty season.  In an imaginative leap I felt nature was in tune with the acknowledgement of the three Magi who had come from the East, and I was glad we had added the three Magi figures to the nativity set that marked the Christmas season in our  front yard.

I had not been in the habit of reflecting much on the Epiphany over the years.  Christmas and the meaning of the Incarnation had been my focus. However, this year was different, perhaps because we made a conscious effort to add the Magi figures to the nativity set to mark the arrival of the wise men at the appropriate time.  Remember, the Magi were not there on Christmas day itself, when Jesus was born. They came later.

So the importance of the Feast of the Epiphany, fittingly enough, came as an epiphany to me.

The teaching surrounding the Epiphany is plain enough. At first the birth of Jesus was revealed to the Jews. But with the coming of the wise men from the East, who represented all people, even to the far ends of the earth, Jesus, our Savior, was revealed not only to the Jews but to all people.  No one is left out of the Christian plan of salvation.

There are so many angles from which one can approach the significance of the Magi coming to acknowledge the Messiah, the anointed One.

I would like to emphasize this: Not only are all people included in the plan of salvation that Jesus brought into the world in the sense that no one is rejected, no one is left out, but beyond that, the Christian plan of salvation is the plan for all people.  The Magi came to Jesus from the far ends of the earth because Jesus had the truth for everyone.

Now to some that seems a rather presumptuous idea. We live in such a time of relativism, that some Christians will say that Christianity is the truth for us, but not for everyone.  Those Christians will say that some cultures prefer other views—such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Judaism– and that we cannot impose our view on them or even assume we are right and they are wrong, or at least that we are more right than they are.

The Catholic Church has taught that Catholicism has the fullness of the truth—which means that although other views may not be completely wrong, they are not completely right either.

I do believe Catholicism has the fullness of the truth. And I’m not saying that in the sense that someone might, for instance, root for one’s own football team as being the best.  One could rationally think all football teams should have equal respect but then in one’s heart of hearts, so to speak, still favor one’s own team and very much want it to win.

It’s not some sort of personal bias like that which results in my saying that I think Catholicism is right. I’m convinced from an intellectual and aesthetic and moral perspective.

I think the plan of sacrificial love that is at the heart of Christianity is indeed the truth that will save us.  When God who is almighty and powerful and magnificent beyond understanding deigns to allow Himself to become a little baby, vulnerable, at the mercy of those around Him, needing the assistance of others, He has made a sacrifice for us in that Incarnation in order to fully communicate with us. A God who is love wants to communicate with His creatures.  As all lovers know, one wants to be with and to communicate with the one who is loved.

When He takes upon Himself the suffering due to sin by dying on the Cross for us—in order to make up for our sins–he is carrying out sacrificial love. Imagine when someone hurts you: in order to forgive that person, one has to absorb the pain of the injury and love the offender despite the offense; it is a sacrifice to do that. Jesus’ dying on the Cross is that sacrifice that allows reconciliation between creature and Creator after sin has taken place. Mother Theresa said, “Love until it hurts.” God loved us so much, he sent His Son to die for us, so that we can be reconciled with Him in forgiveness.

In the Catholic Church’s teaching on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the beautiful idea continues.  Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross is not repeated but rather accessed and shared in when we offer ourselves, too, in sacrifice, in union with His sacrifice on the Cross, when we partake in the Holy Eucharist, which is bread and wine transformed into His body and blood and then consumed.  In consuming Him, who gives Himself in sacrifice to us in the most intimate way possible, we allow ourselves in turn to be consumed by others in service, in love, in a spiritual sacrifice.

The world needs sacrificial love and can only be saved through sacrificial love. Imagine, to use a mundane example, how it would be in traffic without sacrifice—without each person giving up his or her own desires, his or her own need to proceed on the road. Traffic would end up in chaos.

Many of our lives are in chaos.

What a healing balm it would be for the world to take up the idea of sacrificial love.  Feuds would stop. Families would heal. Wars would cease. Countries would be at peace.

The sacrificial love of Jesus comes as a revelation—is revealed—to all people.  Jesus—the Way, the  Truth and the Life—is not just the truth for some. As the epiphany to the Magi shows, He is the Truth for all.

Marianne  Bovée

Vote Third Party in Wisconsin


american-solidarity-partyGreetings, Wisconsin Pro-lifers. It seems quite clear that Trump is going to lose the Wisconsin electoral college votes tomorrow. Let’s show our dissatisfaction with Trump (for he was really an anti-Clinton choice to begin  with) and express our pro-life stance by voting third party: choose the American Solidarity Party! It’s a Christian Democratic Party, though one need not be Christian to be attracted to its principles. The American Solidarity Party is the perfect choice for pro-life Democrats and not-so-rabid-Republicans! The candidates are registered in Wisconsin as write-ins, and therefore, your vote will be counted!

Write in “Michael A. Maturen” for President and “Juan A. Munoz” for vice-President!  Don’t forget the initials!

Please see the following links for further info about the American Solidarity Party:

Website: American Solidarity Party

Facebook: American Solidarity Party–Wisconsin


Marianne  Bovée


Clinton, Trump or Catholic?

thumb-rns-alsmith-dinner            In many minds the 2016 presidential election comes down to a choice between the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the Republican nominee Donald Trump.  To many Catholics—and many other Christians and others—this “choice” presents an acute dilemma.  On the one hand, Clinton and the party she runs under are strongly committed to the pro-choice position on abortion and related positions on same-sex marriage, euthanasia, genetic research and other issues that are morally unacceptable to Christians.  On the other hand, Donald Trump, while claiming allegiance to a pro-life position, proposes many questionable policies in other areas and outwardly expresses selfish, materialistic and egoistic beliefs (such as emphases on money, appearances and “winning”) that are fundamentally at odds with the Christian belief in God as the center.  The many instances of immoral behavior attributed to Trump and the many insults he has leveled at many groups of people and individuals that imply a disdain for human dignity are well-known and arguments have been made to excuse some of them.  But Trump’s dubious proposals and self-centered underlying values are more worrisome than his anecdotal behaviors and insults.

Some Catholics and Christians have nevertheless decided to vote for Trump.  They cite especially the Supreme Court being in the balance.  With the death of Justice Scalia and the Court divided four to four, the next appointment to the Court will decide whether the Court tips to the pro-life or pro-choice side.  Trump has declared he will appoint pro-life justices, whereas Clinton surely will appoint pro-choice justices.  Trump even said in a recent speech:  “If you really like Donald Trump, that’s great, but if you don’t, you have to vote for me anyway. You know why? Supreme Court judges, Supreme Court judges. Have no choice, sorry, sorry, sorry. You have no choice.”  Another reason to vote for Trump that has been mentioned recently is Clinton’s intention to repeal the Hyde amendment preventing taxpayer funding of abortions if she is elected president.

These are plausible reasons for a Catholic or a Christian to vote for Trump, despite his many faults.  Especially if one lives in a swing state, and the result of the election may depend on the electoral votes of that state, it may be prudent to vote for Trump.  But can’t we do better than that?  Do we have to restrict ourselves to only two choices—Clinton and Trump?  Despite the fact that one of these two seems mostly likely to win, despite what is often suggested in the media, we can vote for someone other than Clinton or Trump.  If ever there was a year in which we should consider voting for a candidate outside of the two major parties, it would appear to be this year, in which they offer us two such deeply flawed candidates.

What are the possibilities?  The most obvious are the two candidates outside of the major parties who have attracted the most attention and support—Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party.  Johnson is currently polling at about 7% nationally, Stein 2%.  But to Catholics or Christians, these two candidates eliminate themselves from consideration as readily as Clinton.  Both Johnson and Stein are pro-choice on abortion, and hold similarly liberal positions on the other life issues.  No matter their positions on other issues, Catholics and Christians should not vote for a candidate who explicitly contradicts Church teachings on fundamental moral issues.

There are no other candidates that have attracted much attention or support.  Still, a Catholic should vote for a person who holds positions closer in alignment to the teachings of the Church than any of the four best-known candidates, all of whom are so far away from the teachings of the Church.  Catholics should not feel that they have to compromise and vote for a “lesser of two evils” candidate or party.

Ideally, Catholics and other Christians and others who have compatible values should be able to vote for a political party that adheres completely to the social teachings of the Church. Although the Catholic Church is not “political” and cannot engage directly in politics, the Church’s social teachings provide a great amount of guidance on many issues.  And since the Democrats and Republicans (and the Libertarians and Greens) contradict those teachings in so many ways, forming a political party based on Catholic teachings may be the most reasonable choice.  Catholic pro-life positions are clearly more ethical than the positions of the Democrats, Libertarians and Greens on social issues.  And it can be argued that Republican positions on a large number of important issues–the economy, tax policies, immigrants, the poor, the environment and others–are not in line with Catholic teachings.  However, though perhaps desirable, it is too late form a Catholic political party in time to affect the 2016 election.

Although some Catholics may think it is prudent to vote for Trump in this election to prevent the effects on the Supreme Court and the Hyde amendment of a Clinton presidency, we should also look at the long-range view. In the long-term, Catholics are called on to try to infuse the Church’s values into the social order.  With two major candidates (and also the two third party ones) that so clearly contradict Catholic values, this 2016 election is an opportunity to educate the public about Catholic values and how they are better than what the existing parties have to offer.  Particularly, with the Republican Party in turmoil over the nomination of Trump, and many Republicans planning not to vote for their party’s nominee, this is an opportunity to educate them about how some Republican positions contradict Catholic values and to try to persuade them to bring their party’s positions more in line with Catholic values.

Rather than accept the “lesser of two evils” and vote for Trump, Catholics should look to the future and vote for a person that stands for Catholic values. It is not a “wasted vote” to vote for a person who really stands for what you believe rather than someone who stands for practically nothing in which you believe, but merely says he might do the right thing on a couple of issues.  Even there, Trump, who has repeatedly not told the truth, may not appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices or uphold the Hyde amendment.  Current predictions are that Trump probably will not win the election anyway.  Is it not a “wasted vote” for Catholics to morally compromise themselves by voting for such a deeply flawed person who probably will not win anyway, and if he did, may well not keep his promises?

There is no time like the present. How much longer will Catholics continue to vote for the “lesser of two evils” instead of candidates who really represent their values?  If this is not an election in which Catholics will refuse to continue to compromise their values and vote for candidates and a party that only support part of Catholic social teaching, when will it ever come?  We should not delay any longer trying to change the American political culture and plant the seeds of Catholic social teaching and start to nurture the growth of a political party that will embody Catholic values and try to make them flourish in the United Sates.  It may take a long time, but there is no time like the present to start.  Catholics need to show that they are not satisfied with the current political choices.  It can be argued that Catholics have not had satisfactory political choices in the United States since the Democratic Party embraced the Roe vs. Wade decision in the 1970s.  If there are a large number of write-in candidates it will send a message that people are dissatisfied with the current candidates and parties and new candidates and a party with Catholic values—perhaps a Catholic third party–are called for.  There is no 2016 presidential candidate who stands for the fullness of Catholic truth.  But we all probably know of people who do.  Please think of a person who stands for all of the Church’s teachings and write in that person’s name for president.

David S. Bovée

Since I have written the above, I have read of the presidential candidacy of Mike Maturen of the American Solidarity Party. Maturen and his vice presidential candidate Juan Munoz stand for a platform based on Catholic social teaching that is pro-life and based on the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. You can learn more on their website. I urge a vote for Mike Maturen for president and Juan Munoz for vice president. David Bovee


Photo: Reuters/Carlos Barr


Choose Life, Not Clinton (Vote Trump).


Along with many others, I am morally repulsed by Donald Trump’s behavior: Among other things, how can we forget images of him ridiculing a handicapped person? How can we forget– in his own words—a vivid description of how he sexually mistreats women? It is his sexual abuse of women that in particular has caused many women—and men–to change their allegiance.

An equivalent or even greater moral repulsion seems to be absent regarding the Democratic choice.

Granted, some people are upset with Hillary Clinton for, among other things, what they perceive as her lies. Some are upset about her judgment regarding the use of a private email server.

But Clinton has never made fun of the disabled or sexually mistreated anyone.

Clinton is the more polished politician, the smooth, controlled speaker who knows what to say and when to say it. She is so polished many people seem to overlook what she says.

Many fail to be repulsed by what she says.

What she has said and what has become the new credo of the Democratic Party is the withdrawal of the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment has prevented taxpayer funding from financing abortions en masse. If Clinton has her way—and she is very adamant about doing it—the Hyde Amendment will disappear and poor women on Medicaid will no longer have a financial obstacle to having an abortion. Taxpayers will pay for those abortions.

It already is the case that about three-quarters of abortions are committed because the girls and women say they cannot afford to have the child. Minorities, especially blacks, disproportionately carry out abortion. In some recent years in New York City,  black deaths through abortion outnumbered black live births.  It’s been said that if the Hyde Amendment falls, abortions overall will increase by about 25%. Since black woman carry out abortion at five times the rate of white women, the increase in abortion for blacks would be even higher if the Hyde Amendment disappears.  The Federalist states the following:

“…the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, the Guttmacher Institute, estimated in a 2007 report that a Hyde Amendment ban on federal funding for abortion has prevented between 18 to 35 percent of women from having an abortion. In other words, removing the Hyde Amendment would increase abortion by roughly 25 percent.”

In any other context, we would be hearing cries of genocide—or at least of racism or classism.  But there is a strange silence. Many people have bowed down at the altar of “choice” and believe Clinton’s interpretation of the line, “women’s rights are human rights.”

Clinton has said that “[a]ny right that requires you to take extraordinary measures to access it, is no right at all.”

This is an extraordinary statement: she is saying that, not only do women’s rights include the right to kill their unborn children; if it is too expense for them to do so, then their rights are being violated. Therefore, in order for human rights to be respected, taxpayers must provide funds for the mass killings.

It also follows—if Clinton is elected and her agenda is carried out—that anyone disagreeing with the funding of abortion by taxpayers will judged to be violating human rights.

Not very long ago in a tenement hallway in Brooklyn, a police officer, who accidentally shot a man in the dark, did not give him first aid because he was more worried about the implications for his job than he was about the victim, who ended up dying. It was a shocking and horrifying incident. How can it be that a person is more worried about job security than someone’s life?

Roe vs. Wade has made it legitimate–made it legal– to worry more about ourselves than another’s life, and it is a lesson that has taken hold in this country. In committing abortions, most of the women are more worried about finances than someone’s life. Or more worried about the ability to continue one’s education than someone’s life. Or more worried about one’s personal feelings than someone’s life.

When one person’s life is snuffed out for the convenience of another, we should all be horrified. We should all find the killing of the unborn children for our convenience a repulsive act.

Yes, Trump used women’s bodies for his convenience. But at least they survived. We as a nation are allowing the actual destruction of the body of an unborn child for the convenience of another person. That is very repulsive. Now Clinton wants us to pay for the killing. That is even more repulsive.

Up till now abortion was more or less the choice of the individual woman pregnant with child.

Now Clinton wants to make us all cooperators in these mass killings by having us pay for them.  Thoreau spent time in jail protesting the fact that his taxes were going to finance the Mexican-American War.

What protest will we make if Clinton gets elected and our taxes go toward the killing of the poor? What sensitive part of our souls would we have to shut down to make our lives bearable then? If we become numb and callous toward such killing, how will we treat each other then?

Marianne  Bovée

(graphics: publicdomainpictures.net)

Jesse Jackson: do not hide, please say “no” to genocide

abortion is genocide

Jesse Jackson, please change your mind.
Pray to God to save your kind:
save babies, black babies,
beautiful black babies.

Black babies are killed
at five times the rate of white babies.
We don’t have enough blacks
to replace those who die.
It’s outright genocide.

Jesse Jackson, please change your mind.
Pray to God to save your kind.

Margaret Sanger saw birth control
and abortion as the final solution
to rid the earth of those she did not like.
She preached to wives of the Ku Klux Klan
and wanted to cut short the black life span.

Jesse Jackson, please change your mind.
Pray to God to save your kind.

A eugenicist, it’s understood,
started Planned Parenthood
and said blacks were “human weeds” who shouldn’t live long.
But no one is a weed–Sanger was wrong.

Jesse Jackson, please change your mind.
Pray to God to save your kind:
save babies, black babies,
beautiful black babies.

You were once pro-life
and you had five children with your wife.
Don’t you now see hell on earth?
We are rejecting our own birth.
We value life less and less.
You must be feeling the distress.

Jesse Jackson,
I beg of you,
please change your mind.
Pray to God to save your kind:
save babies, black babies,
beautiful black babies.


Marianne  Bovée
(Photo: RadianceFoundation.org)