Sunday, September 30, 2007

Why I'm the Damsel

At one time
Dead dogs and dead women
Pearls worth more than girls
Someone extended a hand
To give Life
"Talitha, koum..."
And now
Pry the tail out
From the viper's own jaws
This time
Still needs Someone
"Talitha, koum..."
Little girl, arise

I'm no poet. This art was lost on me after studying free verse poetry in high school, which came after the understandable iambic pentameter and the haiku. If there is no form, no necessary rhythm, no need for rhyme, no nothing, then what makes a poem a poem? Can't anyone be a poet if they scribble out some words in short little nonsentences? Maybe I'm a poet afterall.

I'm that girl, if born 2,000 years ago, who probably would have died young, perhaps mourned, but easily forgotten. Body burned in a trash heap. I'm that girl, born today, bombarded with ideals of false rights and false liberation. I'm lucky to be alive. I could have still ended up in a trash heap, only in much smaller pieces.

Who bothered to give me worth? Who bothered to raise me from radical death? Not your average man (or woman) on the street. A Divine Man, an oxymoron. Jesus. He's given radical life to women throughout time. That is why my blog is called, "Talitha, koum."

Friday, September 28, 2007

Teri Rhodes Multiple Choice; "D," None of the Above

After this news story, I scoured blogs for commentaries on the following:

August 12, 2007: Teri Rhodes, 18, college student at Mercyhurst College in PA, gave birth to a baby girl in her bathroom and used a plastic bag to suffocate her while taking a shower in the bathtub where she laid the baby. The baby literally died at Rhodes' feet. Rhodes is now charged with murder and conspiracy to hide a death of a baby. The handful of blogs that have written about this incident have been disapproving of Rhodes committing murder, but not one blogger has placed the final blame on this woman for the death of her newborn baby.

Instead, I perused blogs and comments about that poor girl needing psychotherapy, education, yada yada, and how poverty increases the infanticide rate. I also read blogs that chastised society for not providing better prenatal and postnatal care with counseling, chastised pharmacists for refusing to dispense morning after pills, and even suggested that Rhodes should have had gotten an abortion, as if that were a more preferable method of disposing of her daughter. I also caught comments that the physicians in charge of Rhodes care were incompetent to diagnose her pregancy (this deserves a "no duh!"), and thus absolving Rhodes of some of the blame.

Excuse A: Infanticide is common among young, poor, uneducated females anywhere in the world. We might consider Rhodes young for being an American, but at 18, she's legally an adult and way older than what's considered young by the world's stats. Poor and uneducated at a private Catholic college majoring in Biology and Medical Technology? Hardly.

Excuse B: Pregnant women need care and counseling and sex ed to make rational decisions about pregancy and birth and...I guess murder as well. Last time I checked, there are pregnancy resources everywhere, especially on the internet, where Rhodes spent lots of time net searching for ways to kill her unborn baby in the months leading up to birth. Rhodes had ready access to all of the above, so her actions seem perfectly rational to me. Placing additional blame on the incompetence of the college's sports physician for not detecting what should have been an obvious pregancy does get a nod (Rhodes received a physical two days before giving birth in which he did ask her about, and she denied, pregancy). The doctor may have dropped the ball, but it doesn't remove any blame from Rhodes.

Excuse C: Rhodes could have gotten an abortion or taken the morning after pill. Granted, those options are legal and would have spared Rhodes a murder charge. Even if she opted for either alternative, however, the result would still have been the same: death.

I have a deep compassion for Rhodes being alone in her ordeal and for what her emotional states must have been throughout her pregancy. She does need counseling, and lots of it...while she's in jail. She's a rebellious, irresponsible, lying murderer.

She's rebellious for thinking that having sex before marriage is a good idea (against her Catholic upbringing);

Irresponsible if she thinks that sex doesn't produce a baby that she has obligations to;

Lying for denying her pregancy and any help related to pregancy;

And murder, for all the obvious reasons.

Legally and morally, Rhodes is a mess, and because she chose to go it alone, she alone should bear the blame, not all the other people above who might have somehow changed her circumstances for her. That is the point, missed and ignored as it is.

In case you're wondering, this hits home for me. I have a daughter who one day might get pregnant before marriage, God forbid. I pray for Rhodes, that the severity of her actions impacts her, that she realizes some truths about herself, and finally, that she learns of redemption in the person of Christ. There's more to this story that I have to express...I'll have to put in another post.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Should You Do It, IVF You Want?

I have had so many questions for the longest time about Christian couples who choose to undergo IVF and how they have come to grips with what they believe God wants for them. Have we considered these questions?

In our Western Christian-influenced society, we have come to view medicine and treatments/procedures as blessings and/or gifts from God. Afterall, God created the man/woman, bestowed the intellect, ordained the circumstances, and nurtured the drive that produced a doctor that heals the disease. We appreciate that.

And so, we are inclined to view infertility and its alternatives in the same fashion. Is IVF the same as helping the paraplegic to walk again? In the latter, we are restoring a function, a physical ability. In the former, we are circumventing, not restoring, reproductive disabilities. We are making babies. Lots of them. And, unlike helping someone to walk, numerous embryos that are created inevitably meet a fatal end. It's expected. These two things don't sound the same after all.

A couple pursuing IVF really only wants one child (at a time). IVF creates dozens of embryos; doesn't that make them instantly parents of twelve or more offspring?

When they are asked how many to implant, why do most choose to implant more than one? If the number is high (8 or more), what do they do when embryos don't "take" (in other words, miscarry)?

What do they do when their doctor approaches them about a "reduction" (that is, abortion) from, say, 6 to 3, the intentional death of 3 of their unborn?

How does the couple regard any remaining unimplanted embryos? Are they viewed as their children the same as the ones that are implanted and brought to birth?

How does all of this square with the prominent view in Christianity that personhood and humanity exist with someone from the time of conception, or, as in this instance, creation?

These are weighty questions for all Christians, and not meant to wag a finger at couples who have undergone IVF. An infertile couple should feel a certain entitlement to having children; it is the natural course of God's created order for marriage under normal circumstances. Under infertility circumstances, however, how far should a Christian couple go to remedy childlessness? Where, if any, is the line that we should not cross?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

What Ever Happened to the New Age Movement?

Does anyone remember this?

"The New Age Movement consists of an incredibly huge and well organized network consisting of thousands of groups, trusts, foundations, clubs, lodges, and religious groups whose goal and purpose is to prepare the world to enter the coming "Age Of Aquarius." " (full article)

Some time ago, many avid Christian watchdogs considered the New Age Movement (NAM) to be the biggest threat to Christianity in America. Many feared that "New Agery" had infiltrated its views into all that seemed innocent and straightforward, from Barney to the Bibles in church pews. I sought out the most extreme example I could find, with little difficulty. The caption under the book Ravaged by the New Age by Texe Marrs, published in 1989, contains the following sensational remarks:
"... a shocking expose of the New Age occultism that is...snatching up our innocent children in its rotten net....It also reveals the hidden plan of New Age leaders to bring our teenagers into hideous bondage through Satan worship and witchcraft. Texe Marrs....thoroughly documents the dangerous, secret messages in kid's TV shows, cartoons, movies, comic books, fantasy games, toys and even coloring books. You'll also discover the demonic designs behind Rock and Roll and the hidden, subliminal messages in Satan's New Age "mood" music".
At the height of Christian hype against the NAM in the late '80s, some Christians had even gone so far as to accuse certain Bible translations of being tainted by New Age language and thus spurred on the oh-so-riveting King James only debate.

But it's been a while since anyone was last caught lambasting the NAM. When did the alarms go silent? And why?

First, in 1991, Saddam Hussein at last revealed himself as the long awaited Antichrist he is (pardon, was) that would rebuild Babylon and initiate Armageddon. Of course, the Antichrist wasn't supposed to die already, but Saddam did invade a tiny oil-rich country which tipped off the new era of war in the middle east and terrorism. Suddenly, the NAM, a.k.a. "Satan's Plan to Destroy Our Kids" (subtitle to Marrs' book), took a seat at the back of the church van. Ken Starr and a blue dress also provided added distraction, but who finally pushed NAM out the back doors of the church van was not-such-a-New Ager named Osama bin Laden.

Second, postmodernism has literally eaten the life out of any NAM conspiracy that Christian watchdogs previously hyped over. I find it interesting that at the height of the NAM-versy, Christians focused so much on the NAM and so little on postmodern thinking, particularly since postmodernism had a heavy hand in New Age acceptance in the 1970's. Now--stick with me here--while the two may have been friends in the past, they're not as close anymore, and postmodernism might just be starting to bite the hand it previously held.

How? While many Christians think the New Age mentality as relativistic, it does have a codifiable set of doctrines and prides itself on principled living. And wherever one of those exists, postmodernism will bleed it out sooner or later.

Last, we live in an age of Halo, American Idol, and dog fighting football stars. We want to win; we want singers that are really good; we want to tsk-tsk what Whoopi says they do there in the South. In particular, our age shows that we may think postmodernly now, but we sure don't live it.

Consider super-rage contests shows such as American Idol and America's Got Talent. They're hot hot hot, and everyone loves to evaluate the poor souls on stage pining for fame and a million dollars. Similar to "The Family" TV show in the book Fahrenheit 451, the audience, everyday Americans, is thrust into the judgment seat. The results? When we are put into the position of judge, we do become remarkably judgmental. So long, practical postmodernism.

Bottom line: aura cleansing and blathering about the astral plane used to be, and still is, activity for whom the majority of Americans find just a little nutty. Even some New Agers themselves admit to a decline in NAM popularity, as evidenced by this quote by a New Age guy named Michael (no other identification found on his website):

"New Age has not traveled to the end of the road yet. It is reaching a stage of maturity in which wheat is being separated from the corn. Yet, it still comprises a broad spectrum of activities from the commercial rip-off to unselfish dedication to serve mankind spiritually. Many do not wish to be associated with the name because it reminds them of the turbulence associated with the uprising of the younger generation in the late sixties and the lamentable drug excrescences [sic]. One may pray that the movement will sustain its original purity and raise high the spirit of new generations, giving it an immense vista of life and a purpose to live for."

Oh, I can't wait.

But why point this out, you may ask. Simply, I wish to send a tidbit reminder that, just like weight loss fads, the New Age Movement is another fad of spiritual expression that has come and is now all but forgotten as many others in the history of mankind. Oh, it may come back, like the Atkins Diet. But did churchgoers in America deserve the Christian freak out it received over the NAM? Maybe not so much.

Let me put it this way. Hardly a day goes by that we aren't losing sleep over what "New Age Bible translations" are doing to our kids, right?