Radicalized

Horrific things don’t happen in the middle of the country … at least that’s what we who live in the middle of the country have believed for as long as I can recall. Life is usually quiet and laid back and mostly carefree.tornado6

Don’t get me wrong. I know bad things do sometimes happen. Parts of this region are known as tornado alley. I would never minimize the horror of a tornado, but storm shelters and weather warnings have helped us prepare for such events. We’ve learned to look at and read the sky.

But then one day, something almost insignificant happens and everything changes. A troubled man gets fired from his job. This happens almost every day in dozens of places across the middle of the country. Individuals are let go because they can’t quite do the job or the boss no longer needs them or there’s a personality conflict that can’t be resolved or for lots of other reasons. Usually, when a person’s fired, he or she is miffed, slams file cabinets on his or her way out the door and that’s the end of it. Sometimes, they choose to file lawsuits for wrongful termination. Continue reading “Radicalized”

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Life Is A Gift

On Wiseblooding, I post periodically about abortion. It’s an issue about which I feel strongly. I am unwaveringly pro-life. Back in the late 70s, I composed a simple poem that summed up the debate of that time. Those were the days when discussion seemed more focused on the specious question:  When does life really begin?

Over time, this question was shoved aside, because for many supporters of abortion, it didn’t really matter. Whether life was judged to begin at conception or later (as late as the child celebrating his/her second or third birthday), these individuals supported abortion without regulation or reservations.

As you read the poem below, please imagine in your mind’s eye the intertwined strands of cascading human DNA. The short lines and sustained simple rhymes are meant to evoke that image.

Epitaph, abortion, down-syndrome, termination, infanticide, poem, poetry, verse
Poem: Epitaph

Help to Live

From the first time I heard the euphemistic term Death with Dignity, I thought it surely had to be a joke. This laughable term describes one’s desire to ease into death, much as one might slip into bed one night … and never wake again. hypodermicThe principle adherents of the death-with-dignity mentality are usually individuals who’ve received a terminal diagnosis. Some supporters are hoping to avoid the high costs of dying while others hope to minimize the pain associated with extended illnesses or others just prefer to pull the trigger (so to speak) at a time of their choosing. 

I’ve always argued the notion of death with dignity is absurd. First and foremost, we’ve all been given a terminal diagnosis; the day each of us was born, we were born with the exact same destiny: death. Is that harsh? Regrettably, it’s true. Continue reading “Help to Live”

For The Children

Throughout this week, a digital whirlwind has swirled in online Christian media. Leadership Journal, a Christianity Today publication, posted an article titled From Youth Minister to Felon, a first-person account written by a now-imprisoned former youth pastor. Given my recent post about my love-hate experiences due to religious poseurs within my local church, I considered the irony of this mini-storm.whirlwind

Following outrage and outcries of those who found the author’s point of view offensive, editors of Leadership Journal have since characterized the article as one “we should never have published” and while it remains on their website, only the first page of the article is available without a subscription. Continue reading “For The Children”

Thank Your Mother

Branches of the military have a Code of Conduct. Private businesses often have a similar set of dos and don’ts for their employees. These rules for behavior promote an orderly operation and enable members of the organization to understand (1) what’s expected of them and (2) where the boundaries are. Having specific guidelines for behavior protects both people and organizations against the “Oops, I didn’t know” defense.

Likewise, civil societies have adopted an implicit code of conduct for acceptable and/or unacceptable acts and behavior. Codes may be prescribed via laws and regulations, as well as a shared awareness of right and wrong. For centuries, public disfavor or implied reproof were sufficient to discourage bad behavior. When social condemnation failed, offenders were jailed.Vacant_Prison_Cell_clip_art_hight

Through the years, a commonly accepted rule for good conduct has been protecting women and children. From medieval times, the inclination of a society to look after women and children was considered chivalrous. (See this previous post about my thoughts on chivalry.)

I remember in childhood the first time I viewed the movie Titanic (1953). This movie presented a societal code of conduct:  the captain would not abandon ship, women and children were given life jackets and placed in lifeboats. One male character dressed as a woman and sneaked onto a lifeboat; eventually they noticed his presence and all considered his bad behavior shameful.

Our 2014 topsy-turvy culture has it backwards now. No question, women (gender feminists) have been party to this upset. God forbid any man should open a door for a woman! God forbid a woman expresses her appreciation for the husband who supports her! God forbid she betrays any weakness, any indication she isn’t totally capable of caring for herself in every aspect of her life! (Reminds me of a small child refusing help:  “No, I can do it!”)

Now, we’ve come so far the culture isn’t just topsy-turvy … it has moved into the surreal, with bizarre demonstrations of just how “liberated” we are. Instead of accepting the protection society used to offer, women have voluntarily turned away from it, to the extent that women and children are now the first to be harmed, jettisoned and ravaged. The strong will always survive, but the weaker among us − most often, women and children − are often used up and spat out.

A newsworthy example of this philosophy run amok was reported this week. More than likely, you’re familiar with the story:  a pregnant abortion counselor videotaped her own abortion as it was being performed. In her comments, she says:  I feel in awe of the fact that I can make a baby. I can make a life …” The truth is, she didn’t make that baby, she didn’t make that life. But she did TAKE that life! She destroyed that life, having it flushed from her uterus with extreme prejudice.

Sure, we can talk viability. This woman was in her first trimester, the fetus was quite small, certainly unable to live on its own at that stage. An infant is also unable to live on its own. Should we destroy them too? There are times when a teenager seems incapable of doing anything on his or her own … i.e. nonviable. If non-viability is the yardstick for who lives and who dies, who takes the measure? Are there stages of non-viability?

Great Grandmother with great grandson
Great Grandmother with great grandson

When a society refuses to protect its most vulnerable, all of us live under threat. When a society refuses to protect its most vulnerable, we have relinquished our humanity. Animals in the jungle don’t have a code of conduct. They prey on the weak, the old, the infirm, the young. When humans refuse to protect the vulnerable among us, we’ve ceded our civility. We have become animals … in an uncivil jungle.

Most people know Sunday is Mother’s Day. I suspect many of us had mothers who instilled within us a specific code of conduct. I know my mother did. (Read about my mother here.) One of the rules she emphasized again and again was our responsibility to care for and protect others, to have compassion for others. She encouraged us, in Christ-like respect, to love others more deeply than we loved ourselves.

I live with the daily reminder that my mother gave me Life. In a sense, this Gift was everything she had. I also live with the confidence that she’d have died in my place, if necessary. There is no other gift so precious as the Gift of Life.

Thanks, Mom. I’m forever grateful.

Cloaking The Wild West

Back on January 14th, 2014, I posted my thoughts on egg donations. In that post, I quoted a New York Times writer (from 2011) who stated:  “… we haven’t decided as a society how we are going to deal with this …” tapemouth

Apparently, based on a May 2, 2014 post at The Public Discourse, we now know. “Fertility specialists” will be permitted to continue their reckless, predatory business of skirting laws that prohibit sales of human embryos. Cash-strapped gullible women will continue to suffer a multitude of ills caused by the foolhardy egg-harvesting procedure. But when legal proceedings are pursued, undisclosed monetary settlements will ensure women remain silent, an arrangement secured by their desperate signatures on confidentiality agreements.

Of course, the egg brokers, fertility doctors and their lawyers will be permitted to place their unique PR spin on such sealed agreements:  i.e. “amicable settlement,” “lawsuit dismissed,” etc., yada, yada, yada. Admission of any guilt perpetrated by the aforementioned defendants is conveniently cloaked from public scrutiny due to the confidentiality agreement. And other unsuspecting women will continue to be put at risk.

Grievously injured parties are paid for their silence and a public is lulled into believing this awful practice was nothing more than a charitable and egalitarian act gone awry. Too bad the bad actors’ deeds remain cloaked in secrecy. No story here. And the next generation of Kermit Gosnell*(s) continue to sleep peacefully at night.

*Warning:  the Gosnell link (above) takes you to the Grand Jury report which is both disturbing and graphic, but necessary to understand the horrific nature of his crimes.

Oh, The Humanity!

hindenburgThis is not a post I desire to pen. At this moment, my eyes well with tears and my body trembles from an intense grief beyond anything I am able to describe or comprehend.

Through many years, my grief has grown and over the last week in particular, I’ve read numerous posts and tweets, watched and heard scores of news stories, and processed personal and group narratives filled with both facts and rhetoric on the seemingly endless debate surrounding Roe v. Wade.

For the most part on this blog, I have tried to avoid wading into those waters. Not because of cowardice but I lack the delicate eloquence and I’m a thoroughly inadequate apologist. I am creative, a whimsical writer, a poet who tries to make sense of the world in fourteen lines; where do eloquence and apologia fit into whimsy and sonnets?!

I reiterate, this is not a post I wished to write, though I make no bones about the fact I am staunchly pro-life. My reluctance to be drawn into this debate stems from knowing there are people of good will on both sides of this tense divide and I’m not inclined to cast aspersions on either faction. (However, I readily cede knee-jerk, doctrinaire adherents also populate both factions.)

I suppose dipping my toe into this pond now means I should prepare the deflector shields on my rebel Millenium Falcon to withstand the round of volleys inevitably lobbed against perceived traitors to one or the other cause célèbre.

I’m ready, though still figuratively dragging my feet. Continue reading “Oh, The Humanity!”

Brave New World II: Welcome to the Wild West

BNWYesterday, I launched the first in a series of posts under the overall title Brave New World. My initial post addressed the current practice of egg donation. I noted that the various aspects of our Brave New World are numerous enough to require subsequent posts, but I’ve decided these won’t necessarily be consecutive posts. There’s simply too much to cover.

Just discussing the subject of egg donations (but perhaps extending to the entire reproductive landscape), similarities to the Wild West (in my view) would not be hyperbole. Frontiers are being crossed where no rules seem applicable and the lives and health of women represent an insignificant price in technology’s march across previously sacred natural barriers.

Speaking of a related aspect (surrogacy) that lies within the reproductive framework, one writer said:  “… we haven’t decided as a society how we are going to deal with this…” I think her observation goes beyond just the question of surrogacy and applies overall! We haven’t decided as a society? I recall an old saw:  not to decide is to decide.

Indeed, by refusing to “decide,” the Wild West is where we’ve landed as a society. Figuratively speaking, I can’t help wondering how many native tribes will be recklessly slaughtered while we’re figuring out the operational framework. What will be the cost? The long-term effects of our foot-dragging? The further deterioration of our humanity?gunslingers-page-holland

This is a discussion we (as a culture) should be having, and if you Google the term “egg donations,” 5.6 million hits will come up offering resources and pockets of discussion. But if, like me, your demographic doesn’t match the under-30 set, you may be unaware of the full-court press exerted on young people still forming opinions about reproductive issues, and they’re forming their conclusions on the fly.

Before I continue, though, I want to lay some ground-rules and a prefatory foundation … because I’m not an expert here. I’m not. I’m an observer of our culture, and the things I observe have become increasingly disturbing.

Briefly, I approach this issue (and all others) through the lens of my Christian faith. This means I believe every human being carries the distinct image of our Creator imprinted on and into his or her soul. In that regard, I believe every human life is precious.

Secondly, I use the Bible as my guidebook. However, because the Bible doesn’t speak specifically to every minute issue in life (i.e. should I drink Pepsi or Coke or neither?), I apply principles from the Bible for my decision-making. Within a general biblical Christian framework, there is freedom.

Third (and last, at least for the discussion at hand), I believe God gave me a brain to figure out ways in which to be life-affirming (my first point), to weigh scripture in my life while acknowledging not everyone considers the Bible the “Good Book” (my second point), and the ability to respectfully engage in rational discussion on important topics with people who may disagree with my worldview laid out here.

Keeping those qualifiers in mind, I’ll press forward. If you’re still with me, thanks for hanging in there!

Egg-Donor-Ad-300At its most basic, egg donation is one of a wide array of reproductive interventions. (Using the word interventions seems slightly ominous, doesn’t it? Maybe because reproductive interventions are, in fact, ominous?)

As with many developments brought forward from the 60s feminist movement, people tend to look at egg donation only as another spoke in the egalitarian wheel. For proponents of egalitarianism, the most natural argument might go something like this:  If men are allowed to donate sperm, then why not allow women to donate their eggs? (In short, the sauce-for-the-goose argument.) And I suppose, that’s a fair question … but perhaps a shortsighted one?

Writer Debra J. Saunders discusses “fair compensation” for both male and female donors and notes in her article Women at Risk When Donating Their Eggs“That sperm-egg parity argument is so bogus.” She says the “risks” for donors aren’t comparable.

While sperm donors may experience second thoughts, there are no serious medical side effects. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic website, “… there are no health risks associated with sperm donation.” No health risks. None.

lupron

The same cannot be said for egg donation. Powerful drugs are utilized. The primary drug used is Lupron. One website that I consulted (shown to the right) discusses their Lupron protocol and candidly admits:  as part of the egg-harvesting process, “… Lupron is not FDA approved for this use (it is an “off label” use).”

That second last sentence is telling. I’ve enlarged the applicable paragraph for you to view for yourself here:

lupron-better

So, we have a powerful drug, one being used for an “off-label” (non-conforming) application and it’s also a drug which has some demonstrable side effects! Truth is, we don’t yet know the full extent to which women may suffer health issues following the administration of this drug for the purposes of egg donation.

Does this seem at all egalitarian?

I’ve scraped the surface here, discussed just a snatch of available information to shed light on one aspect of the reproductive intervention on the Wild West landscape. There’s so much more … and I will continue to pursue in subsequent posts.

Your discussion and input are welcome and always encouraged.

Brave New World I: Egg Money

In case you hadn’t noticed it lately, we are living in a brave new world (BNW).BNW

In its derivative context (coming by way of Shakespeare‘s The Tempest), Brave New World refers to Aldous Huxley‘s sobering vision of a futuristic time when advances wrought by technology make for a much different world. (I don’t want to spoil your appreciation of the book, so please read it for yourself.)

An article entitled Modern Families and the Messes We Make by Jennifer Lahl at thepublicdiscourse.com perfectly illustrates today’s BNW. As Lahl notes, it is indeed a messy world and often, the messes we make are so avoidable yet we plunge forward willy-nilly into chaos! (And then, wash, rinse, repeat, as if we’ve learned nothing through previous rash acts and bad outcomes!) Although Lahl’s article first appeared last November, it becomes more relevant everyday as the web-links from her post point to a frequency of messes beyond comprehension.

There are so many disparate aspects to which Lahl refers, I feel compelled to spend several additional posts to address the complications and pitfalls as I envision them. I know I’m not alone in believing we’ve opened a Pandora’s box that’s unwilling to be contained. I’m of the opinion none of us can imagine where exactly it will end, nor how many people will be hurt along the way.

I’m no prophet but there have been road markers all along this road to Utopia. A person would have to be extremely naive not to notice at least some of them.

Heart strings are usually what gets tugged in my case; I can overlook lots of things but evoke my sympathy and I’m there. Give me a first-hand account of someone who’s done a seemingly good deed and been burned because of it, and I consider how I might have felt in the same situation.

When I came across the website www.eggsploitation.com, I couldn’t get my head and heart around the way in which well-meaning young women are embracing what at first they believe is a noble endeavor … but many realize their actions may have exposed them to lifelong consequences.

When I was a young woman eager to start a family with my husband, pregnancy came quickly. I bore four children in less than eight years, so fertility was never (thankfully) an issue. From an experiential viewpoint, I’m unable to identify with women suffering infertility. I simply (and gratefully) understand “children are a gift from the Lord.” (Psalm 127:3)

However, I do understand the yearnings that come when a woman hopes to become a mother. (I believe those yearnings are God-given.) Women generally have sympathy for other women unable to conceive. Hence, the potential for being seduced with a heart-tugging message of “be an angel,” “make a difference,” and  “help make dreams come true,” messages Lahl links in her article. Ah, the beguiling message of altruism!

Honestly, I can’t say I wouldn’t have been similarly induced when I was a young woman. It’s the nice thing to do, right? And if we women are anything, it is nice!

The sonnet below echoes the experience of (at least) one woman whose story was shared on the eggsploitation website.

brave new world, eggsploitation, egg harvesting, selling eggs, reproductive choice, sonnet, poetry, poem
Sonnet: Egg Money

In today’s brave new world, we’ve been taught everything has a price on it, no matter how small, no matter how insignificant it may be at a particular moment. (Think of the number of Hollywood films that have been developed around this theme!) But as we age, we learn things about which we were once casual have become increasingly precious.

… More tomorrow as we explore other implications of our brave new world.

War Against Women

As women, we tend to be our own worst critics. We engage in ongoing combat with ourselves, not just about perceptions of beauty but also the result of negative dialogue that crams our brains. My post, Natural Beauty, references how one’s inner beauty reveals itself to others; yes, even when that beauty is not apparent to us as individuals.2005 CFDA Awards - Press Room

In an interview on The Blaze, Fashion designer Norma Kamali addresses another component where women struggle:  objectification. (As someone admittedly ignorant about Fashion, I’m new to Kamali.) The designer recalls her first job interview where a powerful man’s lecherous behavior evoked Kamali’s youthful revulsion. She asserts women typically keep such dreadful experiences to themselves. Believing this secrecy is harmful, Kamali developed a website StopObjectification.com (subsequent references will be abbreviated SO.com) focused on confronting and eradicating objectification.

Kamali says she’s queried numerous women and finds experiences of objectification are painfully common. (Kamali’s story even dredged up unpleasant memories for me.) In the interview, Kamali expresses empathy for any woman “allowing herself to be objectified” but acknowledges the natural drive women have for “wanting men to love us.”

Indeed, the old give-to-get adage is easily identifiable:  men give love to get sex, women give sex to get love. (For an excellent post rethinking that adage, read this at TransformingWords.)

Being treated as an object, a vehicle for someone’s self-gratification, is evil. Though it happens every day, it’s no less evil. Kamali likens it to involuntarily “giving up a part of oneself.” She’s right; love − viewed rightly − should enhance rather than diminish us! Maybe it helps (as the SO.com website suggests) for women to find “empowerment” by posting pictures of their “most powerful body part.” Maybe doing this represents a positive re-imagining to loose the bonds of humiliating experiences.

But I pose a contrary view. Women will remain vulnerable to objectification. Put simply, we can’t control how other people view us. Truth be told, our culture is rife with “empowered” women (many acting badly) who are consumed by their insatiable search for someone to love them. A sense of empowerment is only that:  a sense. It doesn’t eliminate our innate need to be loved − and if it did, I think that would be a bad thing.

When we attempt to deaden those inner impulses that make us uniquely women, we are, in effect, warring against ourselves.

Psalm 139:14 tells us:  “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Our need to be loved is the way we’ve been fashioned. This need is fulfilled in relationship with … the Lover of our souls. Because the image of the Creator is embedded in my soul, I know I’m already loved and uniquely made. No degradation, no objectification suffered in this life changes (or minimizes) that identity.

So, I offer a different basis for “empowerment” in this three-pronged action plan. The battle metaphor is apt: 

Women on the front lines

  1. Engage my brain. I can’t control how other people view me, but I can control my responses. Pre-planning a battle strategy girds and prepares me for potential unpleasant situations.
  2. Reserve the sword for enemies. Negative dialogue immobilizes. I must refuse to take up the sword against myself.
  3. Wield the shield for self-defense. In combat, the shield is a defensive tool. Learning to properly wield a shield might mean studying physical or verbal self-defense technique or fine-tuning my intuition to recognize vulnerabilities.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made, precious in God’s sight. Knowing that, what could be more beautiful … and more empowering?