Saturday, March 28, 2009

God saved her.

Thank you, Anchoress, for beating the drums for life. I am in awe of people like Faith's mom and Eliot's parents. There is already such tremendous social pressure to abort the "less than perfect." Everyone owes these parents their deepest gratitude for sheltering and loving their beautiful children. It smooths the way for the rest of us when we have to make the difficult choices.

I wish I could say that I always trust God that way, but too often I don't. Everything I know today I learned the hard way - including life.

Abortion is ever-present in my life. So many women lawyers I know waited too long to have children, only to resort to Clomid, IVF, and other fertility means. If they get lucky and it takes, "selective reduction" is the next step in the fertility process. Whatever you call it - abortion, reduction, procedure - it seems sterile and clean, modern and responsible. It's the only thing you really can control when it comes to childbearing, which every woman finds out is more of a medical wilderness than you can imagine. Abortion seemed like the only easy answer for a universe of hard problems. Of course I was pro-choice. Everyone I respected was. And if it conflicted with my church, well, then maybe the church was wrong. Besides, how could I believe in a faith that would force me to behave so "irresponsibly." How could I believe in a faith that would force so much gratuitous pain? Pro-life seemed like being pro-cruelty in some circumstances.

Then I got pregnant.

And you know what, it was kind of gruesome. The sicker I got, the more weight I lost, the more I became convinced that no one, no one had the right to dictate that I or any other woman to go through this. I lost 12% of my body weight in two months. Swallowing anything, even water or my own saliva, made me vomit. When I finally got insurance approval for a $100 per pill anti-vomiting drug, it held the sickness at bay so long as I didn't try to move. I was dizzy and sick even in my sleep, when I could sleep. But even as I blamed my body for being so tremendously bad at being pregnant, I grew to love the tiny baby inside.

But love without grace wasn't enough to stop me from trying to kill it. At 18 weeks and some change, we didn't know the gender, so when the hemorrhage started, the baby was still an "it." And when the doctor said he had some bad news, I was the one who asked for the "procedure."
The emergency room doctor gave us some privacy while he left to go schedule the D&C. I didn't want to face delivering the remains of my dead child at home. They'll just take it out, he said. A friend in the same position only took one day off work when her first fetus was determined to be "growing too slow" and removed. It was New Years Day. I wouldn't even need to take vacation.

My ob-gyn came in a few hours later to do the pre-op. Yet another pelvic exam left me so sore I could hardly move. Hospital policy required a Foley catheter for an ultrasound that hurt every second it was in. Insult to injury - the ultrasound showed that my body was having severe contractions. I don't know what it showed the baby's body as doing. All they told me was "dead."

"Schedule the procedure," I demanded. I know my rights.

I was angry when my doctor told me it was better not to do any medical intervention if at all possible. What were we supposed to tell our families? "Oh hey, my dead baby is going to fall out of me any minute. And Happy Holidays, by the way." Ever tactful, we told them exactly that.

And then we waited.

How many days are you supposed to wait for your dead baby to fall out of you?

We waited 22 more weeks.

There is such relief in not having to be God.

She is so beautiful it will make your heart stop.

I nearly killed her.
I wrote that a few months ago. She's even more beautiful today.

By rights, I should never get up from my knees in thanksgiving to the Lord for saving me, and her, from my outrageous and ungrateful stupidity. It was such a close thing. The thought of what could have happened causes me physical pain.

God intervened, but it should not have been that close. Who am I to reject the gift of life, just because it's going to be scary and messy and potentially painful? Who am I to reject the gift of faith? What stupidity to reject the only bulwark and protector of all children - born or unborn - against the scared or selfish or misguided acts of their own parents. God gave me everything I needed to know to save my children, and I disregarded the information. By rights, I deserved no child. But God is merciful.

It's a hard thing to hold on to what is right in this world, but the parents of Baby Faith and Baby Eliot have done it. I am certain that their loving example will give comfort to those who struggle against the modern world to see that there is another way.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Self-important faux conservative columnists - They're just like us!

I suppose the only silver lining here is that we all know that Kathleen Parker's byline is going to be about as credible as any other celebrity worshiper at US Weekly.
I was also struck by how lean and fit everyone is. The Obamas are thin people, a sight to behold in the age of obesity.
Complete with creepy uber-fan stalking:
Uninhibited and guileless, they seemed utterly at ease with five strangers— especially, may I say, with the sole female, who just happened to have a little green Ugly Doll hanging from her purple purse, very similar to one spotted several weeks ago on Sasha’s book bag.

The guys may talk football, leaving some women reporters clueless, but guys don’t know jack about the Ugly Doll fashion phenom begun by one Sasha Obama several weeks ago. I wouldn’t call my Ugly Doll “bait” exactly, but I might call it strategy. As a conversation starter, it worked.

Poor Sasha. There will come a time when those little girls realize that almost every new person they meet is just exploiting them. They're going to feel manipulated and betrayed. And in this case, they would be right to think so.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Honeymoon's Over, Jerk

Andrew Sullivan is a bad man, a disgrace to any group who would have him. His public attacks on Sarah Palin and her minor children are outrageous and delusional. He more than anyone bears the responsibility for mainstreaming these criticisms for the gleeful media pile on, which he then used to reinforce his insane belief that there's a "there" there. His "who me?" attempt to shirk responsibility for doing so is flatly dishonest. More than anyone else, he is responsible for bringing our nations politics and discourse to a new and disgusting low. His collective lunatic rantings evince a once-talented mind now rotted by misogyny, misopedia, and heterophobia. He remains willfully beyond redemption.

So when I hear that Obama invited that scumbag to a private little dinner party, giving him both a further platform and dignifying his unhinged campaign attacks, "getting mad" doesn't cover it for me. Obama has always been kind of a jerk, but that kind of overt low-class petty little attack, especially after what Palin suffered during the election, is astounding.

That kind of deeply personal insult is not the kind one readily forgives.

Where exactly do I sign up for the volunteer office for whatever Republican challenger has the best shot in '12?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sacred, Profane, Inane: The Same?

Via Althouse, who highlights the same portion discussed here, a very interesting and good article from Christopher Hitchens. But then he gets the conclusion exactly wrong. He answers the question: "Is nothing sacred?" by saying that religions aren't, but speech is. I say that the only reason speech matters is because religion does. Valuing and emphasizing speech without reference to the reason and purpose of freedom of speech corrupts our society and our discourse. The value of speech is only in its value as tool for the conscience.

I can’t remember quite what I answered then, but I know what I would say now. “No, nothing is sacred. And even if there were to be something called sacred, we mere primates wouldn’t be able to decide which book or which idol or which city was the truly holy one. Thus, the only thing that should be upheld at all costs and without qualification is the right of free expression, because if that goes, then so do all other claims of right as well.” I also think that human life has its sacrosanct aspect, and though I can think of many circumstances in which I would take a life, the crime of writing a work of fiction is not a justification (even in the case of Ludlum) that I could ever entertain.
He uses the phrase sacred to describe things like books, idols, and cities. But then he says that free expression should be upheld "at all costs" even above human life, which is "sacrosanct," but only in part. So for Hitchens, speech is sacred. The Bible, Ganesh, and Mecca are not.

Freedom of conscience is the more sacred freedom; any value in the freedom of speech derives from the extent to which it serves freedom of conscience. (I'm not the only one who ties these together; both are protected by the same amendment to the U.S. Constitution). Freedom of conscience means the freedom to apply your reason, judgment, and morality to your life. In doing so, you may strive to become a better person. It happens on the individual level, with or without speech.

Freedom of speech is the tool that freedom of conscience uses at the society level. Only through speech can a society as a whole engage in the kind of self-questioning necessary to progress into something better. Speech allows society to evolve a conscience. Speech is the tool, but conscience is the goal.

I do respect speech. The value it serves is so important that I believe almost all limitations on speech are to be avoided so as not to hinder the progress of the underlying goal. But that's no reason to celebrate all speech whether harmful or valueless. We don't do that anyway. Obscenity, for example, is illegal in many jurisdictions. Lots of speech isn't considered by law to be as valuable as other speech. The highest protection goes to political speech, the very means by which society works out its morals and values, the public conscience. Other speech is protected for the sole reason that curtailing it would chill this most valuable type of speech. I can think of lots of occasions in which speech can and maybe should be curtailed (time, place, and manner restrictions are often held to be constitutional). I can think of few, if any, situations where the government or society can or should impose on the conscience. I think that the farther speech strays from its essential purpose as tool for the development of the social conscience, the less valuable it becomes.

Does anyone other than Hitchens believe that speech should be upheld "at all cost and without qualification"? Does he? This position glorifies speech that causes harm. I'm not talking about questioning the status quo, I'm talking about speech that causes real harm. The liberal intelligentsia would have us believe that obscenity prosecutions are bad. If we're talking James Joyce, or Salman Rushdie, who Hitchens' article discusses, then I agree. But do we all really think that we should tolerate or celebrate all speech that really is obscene? Fiction writers may be providing speech of value to society, but what about that Brazilian guy who got prosecuted for obscenity for the 2 Girls 1 Cup video a.k.a. "gonzo porn" (spoiler alert! 2 women poop and barf into each other's mouths).

Is Hitchens right that we should venerate speech because we can't have any certainty as to which religion is correct? If we can't, then how can mere primates determine that speech is always the correct value to celebrate? Answer: by exercising the faculty that separates us from rest of the primates - reason. People can use reason and evidence to determine what religion is correct. One piece of evidence of the rightness of Christianity that led me back to the fold was during a secular theology class at a public university, the texts for which tried to argue against the miraculous nature of Christ.

To debunk what some see as a miracle - the amazing spread and worldwide dominance of Christianity as a world religion in its first few centuries - the authors of the text argued that it was really just due to biological factors. The world population was being wiped out by disease, where Christians came to dominate through attrition. Christians tended to survive disease where heathens did not because the Christian doctrine of caring for one's neighbor led Christians to provide the basic hygeine and sustenance that led to dramatically greater survival rates. Patients who survived were either Christians cared for by their brethren or heathens eager to convert out of gratitude and awe to those who cared for them.

The authors took great pains to point out how foreign the concept of caring for one's neighbor was in the society at the time - the better to justify their theory of the disproportionate impact of Christianity on demographics. That's right - they tried to debunk a supposed miracle by arguing that the doctrine led to the better chance for survival of humanity and Christianity. We are to disbelieve Christianity because Jesus told us how to survive plague. Luckily, this primate is able to apply her faculty of reason to say that Jesus got the whole "love thy neighbor" thing right. Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church - it's scary how right that thing is; Thank God he loves us. And what does it tell you right up front?

"Our holy mother, the Church, holds and teaches that God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason." Without this capacity, man would not be able to welcome God's revelation. Man has this capacity because he is created "in the image of God".

Reason, again. So yeah, I disagree with Hitchens as to whether we can know religion is sacred. Reason tells us. We are primates, but not merely so. But for him the speech faculty trumps. Why is that?

Why is he threatened by this:
"Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths."
Why would Hitchens have us call this into question - why can't we apply this teaching to our lives, view the results, and decide for ourselves whether the evidence bears out that we must love each other, do what is good, and avoid evil? Evidence and reason won't tell us whether this is true?

But no, according to Hitchens, it is sacred to say the following, so long as we are not convinced of its rightness:
Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law:

Conscience is a law of the mind; yet [Christians] would not grant that it is nothing more; I mean that it was not a dictate, nor conveyed the notion of responsibility, of duty, of a threat and a promise. . . . [Conscience] is a messenger of him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by his representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.
And the saying of this is equivalent to the creation of gonzo porn, or at least entitled to the same protection.

Hitchens' answer embodies the thesis of this guy, which is that the modern left believes that the evil in the world comes from the insistence of rightness. It's okay to say as long as you don't believe it, as long as you don't think you are right. Now that I think about it, Obama is their perfect candidate - he'll say anything, and no one thinks he believes it. The left defended his going to a radical church by arguing that he professed a faith he didn't believe for mere political reasons!

When you fetishize and overemphasize speech the way Hitchens does, unmooring it from the values it serves, you create a sick discourse and you hurt society. You end up with people like the guy at the porno link who assert that not only should poop videos be protected, but that people who watch them for sexual kicks are less threatening to society than people who only like missionary sex with the lights off.

Is that the society we want? Are those the values we intend to serve?

(Quotations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1776, 1777, 1778, 6)