Monday, July 23, 2007

Danger in Removing Meaning

Andrew always tells me to check the garbage disposal before I turn it on. But, there is no way I am sticking my hand into that dark, dark hole to touch that putrid, rotting mess. Since I always do the dishes, I know that nothing is down there anyway. But, we had a guest visiting, who very kindly helped with the dishes. Unfortunatley, I was not able to keep track of things going in and out of the sink. When I went to wash up some dishes, the sink would not drain and I turned on the garbage disposal. I demolished the lid to a very expensive teapot (when I say expensive, I mean EXPENSIVE. It’s probably the most expensive teapot you can get that you would used everyday). To put it kindly, Andrew was very grumpy with me.

We have been looking for a replacement lid, which with expensive teapots is very hard to find. Anyhow, this weekend we went to a store looking for the replacement and Andrew inquired about the total cost of the teapot. When he heard of the total cost, he was grumpy all over again. I asked, “Are you upset with me allover again?” He said,
“A little. But, that’s all right. It’s just stuff!”

Mostly, I agree with this analysis of the situation. It does help our mental status to think of it this way. But, this mindset can be very harmful when taken too far (See Lancelot, Walker Percy).

Life’s Essentials:
Possessions are just stuff
Food is just sustenance
Shelter is just protection
Clothing is just coverings
Transportation is just a way to get there on time

But, with the human quotient these things are meaningful in everyway. Humans are meaningful in everyway.

Possessions – can be gifts from a loved one representing that person’s love; or it can represent something you did, or somewhere you went, a time that changed who you are; they show your personality—outward representations of who you are on the inside. They can define you, or control you. When they are lost, broken, stolen it can hurt you, because it is meaningful to you. They represent you, but they are not you.

Like our teapot, which we are trying to repair—it was a wedding gift from my grandmother. So, to us it represents so much. It represents our marriage union. It represents family and cross-generational bond. It represents all the years of sacrifice and hardship my grandmother went through to one day be able to bestow this memento of her love on her granddaughter. It represents all those good, relaxing times Andrew and I spent together sipping tea and enjoying each other. It represents the warmth and love of marriage, family and our lives. It is not JUST stuff. It’s meaningful.

Food – It keeps us alive, and it can kill us. That is meaningful enough. But, food can represent times you enjoyed family and friends. It can change your mood. It can change your health. It can change who you are. You can learn from food. It can be beautiful. Indeed, it can bring you closer to God. Thanking God for your sustenance. Opening yourself to God’s beauty and grace in all things. This line of thought carries through to clothing, shelter and all that STUFF that carries us away.

We must be careful to keep the meaning of the stuff, but to not be carried away with it. Our marriage is what it is with or with out the teapot. We will still drink tea and enjoy each other without the teapot. I know that my grandmother cares about me, even if she had not given us the teapot. But, it is a meaningful representation of love. It is a helpful reminder every time we use it. It is a sign.

All this stuff signals to us the meaning in humanity.

Friday, July 20, 2007

"I'm Keepin' My Baby!"

“Mama Don't Preach: Thoughts on Respecting Parenthood Decisions,”
What a poorly written, poorly argued article by Amy Reiter. I honestly cannot believe that this was published. Yesterday morning this article was featured on I did a little searching and was surprised to find that this article was originally published fours years ago. It is obvious that it was pushed forward because it is a controversial topic and because the article itself was extremely offensive. The gist of her article was to say that parenthood is not all that it is cracked up to be. Therefore, society should not pass judgement or put pressure on those who choose not to have children.

On her claims about the changing body: I have got news for you lady, your body was going to change any way. Funny thing, as you age your body sags, aches and changes into one that is horrifically unrecognizable—childfree you might be saved a few stretch marks. In fact, for women who do not have children they are at much greater risk for deadly, debilitating, painful diseases than childbirth will ever cause. Most can be avoided simply by doing what nature intended—have a child. Diseases that include, endomitriosis, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer (a whole host of female reproductive and endocrine diseases). Since your body is going to age anyway, you might as well have a loving, life-long companion, a bundle of joy, to comfort and care for you despite that your body is decaying.

On the physical act of giving birth: She discussed a few women who had complications. Yes, giving birth can be dangerous. That is why you do it at a hospital. Some of today's birth complications are avoidable. Caesarean birth numbers are way up. Part of this is in preparing your body and mind for childbirth with exercises, which have been proven to help. Part of this is because more people are choosing to wait way past their childbearing prime, which 16-27 years of age. But, also many women are opting for labor inductions, which increases your chances of Caesarean birth by fifty percent. Although, when it comes down to it a lot of complications cannot be avoided, but with modern medicine they do not have to be permanent like the urination problem that was discussed in the article.

On her claims about social life: Your social life is not over, only changed. Moms enjoy meeting with other moms and talking about family life. I don’t know about you, but I do not know too many people who are obsessed with being able to go out for a drink, or a ballet whenever they will. It is not as though that never happens anymore when you are a parent. It just takes planning—getting a baby sitter. But, I am sorry you, Amy, were inconvenienced by your child.

On career: Women used to stay home and for good reason. This society has become very unfriendly to the natural composition of family. In the past, all women were home, at least sometime in their lives, with the kids. Women had a natural sorority with other mothers—they had strong friendships, sharing child care and mothering tips.

While I think it is good for women to go out and seek the careers they desire, for many, there is an equal desire to have a family at the same time. It is difficult to juggle both, but a vast majority of women in America do it. In Australia, they make provisions for mothers with careers. There is extended maternity leave and parttime hours for mom’s with young children. Australia recognizes that the children will eventually go to school and will not always need around the clock care.

On her claims about selfishness: Face it. It is selfish to not want to have children because it might inconvenience you; because, you might have to think about someone other than yourself; because, you have to make sacrifices; because, you cannot do as you please whenever you want; because, you might have to share you money with another person. These are all very selfish unChristian views. I do not care if you are not Christian. Regardless of creed we are a caring, charitable society.

On her claims that you won’t be lonely: You will be lonely. Maybe for most of your life you can fill your days with work and friends. But, the fact is that most of your friends will start families and will not have time to keep you company. They will want to spend time with other families. Even if you maintain friendships with other childless people, will those people care for you and visit you in your old age, when you are unable to do as much as you used to?

It is also interesting the people choosing to not have children are some of the smartest, goodlooking, well-educated, well-mannered, wealthy people. With so many good attributes you would think you would want to pass those along not only to another person, but all of culture and society benefits from such people.

People who marry and choose not to have children are missing out. They miss out on making their mark on the future. Progeny carry not only your genetic makeup, but also your ideas, things you taught them, family tradtions. You will carryon in them. The Biblical Jews often tried to have as many children as possible, because that is the only way they believed they would live on forever.

The facts are that there are so many GOOD reasons to have children and sooner rahter than later. That is why so many people “preach” as the author would say. And all the author, Amy Reiter, could offer was a few flimsy, self-centered arguments (I mean whines). I do not mean to judge those who for some reason or another have found themselves waiting to have children. It is not always ideal, but it is important to someday have kids; and the earlier better.

To make a long story short, I think you, Amy, are in a small minority. And just because all your friends agree with you does not mean you are right. Most people become friends with people who will agree with them, that is why they are friends.

It is important to not judge your friends for not having kids. There maybe a deeper problem physically or mentally. Or, also because people make mistakes and it is not your place to tell them they have made a mistake. You can encourage them to choose better. But, I do not think it is okay to tell people it is okay not to have children so that you can have all the shoes, vacations and party nights that they desire. That’s empty. In the time those things will become void of meaning.

The reason you are here reading this is because our ancestors procreated. Remember that for our ancestors not having children was not an option. Not just because they did not have birth control (there are recorded ancient birth controls), but also because we need our offspring to survive as individuals and as a culture, society, race.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dying You Destroyed Our Death; Rising You Restored Our Life

Adam, may His eternal light shine upon you.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Do You Believe in Signals and What Does That Mean?

today between five and six in the afternoon,
when Andrew asked me for my hand—

then I was thinking about signals that could not connect.
It was a thought about Andrew and myself.
And I felt how difficult it is to live.
That night was terribly hard for me,
though it was a truly glorious mountain night,
and full of nature’s secrets.
Everything around seemed
So very necessary
And so in harmony with the world’s totality,
only man was off balance and lost.
Perhaps not every human being,
But I know for certain that I was.
So today, when Andrew asked,
“Would you like to become my life’s companion?”
after ten minutes I answered, “Yes,”
and after a while I asked him if he believed in signals.

Quote from The Jeweller’s Shop
By Karol Wojtyla