Friday, November 18, 2011

Ruminations

I've got so many thoughts rumbling through my head these days. Big things are brewing in our culture. The abortion issue is coming to a head like a slowly maturing pimple. It wasn't over with Roe v. Wade; it was just beginning. You can't kill off 50 million people in your population and expect it to be a non-issue, without opposition.

Here's an interesting assessment of the recent defeat of a "Personhood Amendment" in Mississippi, by the voting public. Are generally pro-life folks on the street, really as pro-life as they think, when they are asked to put some teeth into their beliefs? This vote in Mississippi made many things crystal clear. Was there fear-mongering on the part of Planned Parenthood and others? Yes, certainly. But the amendment to the constitution was, as the writer notes, an aggressive move. It insisted upon "life from the moment of fertilization." One of the fears of voters is that this would impact women's ability to get birth control. And we must ask the question: when do most birth control pills prevent pregnancy? Do they prevent the sperm and egg from joining at all? Or do they prevent an already-fertilized egg (a person, according to the amendment) from implanting in the uterus? 30 and 40 years ago, birth control pills were hefty medicine. They prevented fertilization. But in recent years, in an attempt to reduce side effects and make the pills less potent hormonally, many (or most?) birth control pills don't prevent fertilization. They prevent implantation. This is well-known by some in the Christian conservative community. I have numerous 20- and 30-something friends who have 6 or 8 kids, and won't use the pill. They know it's killing babies, albeit at the earliest stage.

So, honestly, I find it a bit disingenuous for Christians in Mississippi to claim that the amendment's goal was not to alter women's birth control. If the amendment doesn't do that, then it's a lie itself. Birth control needs to be changed, and of course, many regular Christian Mississippians don't want their birth control changed, thank you very much. Are babies being killed very early, with low-dosage pills? Are church-going Mississippians killing off their children and grandchildren this way? Yes. And they don't really want to know about it. They don't want to believe it's true. I want this issue dealt with in the Christian community. If we demand that personhood begins at fertilization and not implantation, then we must use only birth control that prevents fertilization.  Women don't generally question their OgGyns on this issue, and their husbands don't ask.

Okay, so there's issue #1.

Issue #2: Occupy Wall Street.

We conservatives are enjoying their demise, their silliness, their disorder. Anarchy, as a system, is ludicrous -- it is no system, and we do label them as anarchists. But as a poor person myself, a little voice inside me keeps saying, "Aren't they a little bit right?" What do they want after all? A better nation, where everyone has work, everyone has food, everyone is more equal. Where each person sits under his own olive tree or vineyard and has security. If you don't want a place like that too, then you honestly shouldn't strive to enter God's kingdom, because Scripture describes the New Earth in exactly those terms. But my Christian conservative friends wag their fingers at this reply and say, "These socialist OWS protesters are ridiculous! They're wishing for the impossible! A socialist or communist state doesn't work, and equal distribution of wealth doesn't work, because people are evil. Nobody wants to give anything away. Humans don't share that nicely. We want for ourselves. We always divide up into 'us vs. them.' A government would have to steal from the rich and give hand-outs to the poor, and that just breeds more corruption."

Interestingly enough, Jon Stewart agrees with you. He is quick to point out the hypocrisy of the protesters in this lovely video:
                       
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But conservatives are equally hypocritical. They claim that people are too intrinsically greedy for socialism to work, but then claim that wealthy bankers/businessmen/entrepreneurs who have millions of dollars, will naturally use it to grow the economy, and help others, and employ the unemployed, and "spread the money around" through the growth of their businesses. I hear conservatives claim every day that the way to get everyone economically well again, is to let the businessmen have their money to use, and the system will take care of the rest. But how can this be? If men are really greedy, and want more for themselves, won't they tend to keep their money, employ as few people as possible, make as much profit as possible, and invest it for themselves? Won't they use their power and cash to tweak the system to their advantage?
Bill Moyers makes this point rather eloquently in the following video:



As you see, my mind is flipping back and forth.


Issue #3:  Parenting

I've come across two articles in the past two days that give wise, Christian advice on parenting. Both articles are good.  Article #1,written by a blogger named Sally, is titled "Selfish, self-absorbed people are never happy -- train it out off your children!" Her first sentence? "Children can easily become the focus of well-intentioned mothers." She goes on to point out that parents can over-indulge their children, creating little people who think they always deserve special treatment. We're making a generation of whiners and Very Selfish People.  And I agree with her. Parents like this may have loving intentions, but they are misguided. She encourages parents to make their children share, so much so that receiving a soda all to himself will be an unbelievable treat to your child. Really?

But then along came Article #2 by Andree Seu of World Magazine fame, called "What Parenting Is." Seu's heart breaks in her account because parents are neglecting to delight in their children. They are focusing on the practical, the necessary, and not throwing responsibility to the wind (for a moment) to grab the child by the hand and grant his request to swim in the pool, or play on the swings, or read a book, or watch a movie. In other words, Seu wants parents to revel and delight in their kids with abandon, and to be certain the kids know it. They should feel adored, cherished. Hmm. Several friends on facebook  agreed heartily that if they could go back a couple of decades, they would do more reveling, and less ... well, less of the pragmatics of instructing, disciplining, putting food on the table and telling Johnny to clean up his room NOW.

How in the world can I agree with both articles? I do. I certainly don't want to raise self-absorbed children. They don't need any help being selfish; it comes hard-wired into them. But I know I have erred quite a bit in not expressing to my children how much I enjoy them, how proud I am of them, what a delight and pleasure it is to me just to be their mother. Somehow, the perfect mother is supposed to communicate to her child how fabulous he is, without it going to his head. How do you do that? I don't know.

I'm just trying to be honest with myself. I know I'm a conservative, but I want to acknowledge when some of my conservative positions are askew, and when the other side has real value in its positions.

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