Mar 30 2012

And I want to be like Mary Eberstadt when I grow up

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Natalie recently informed us she’d like to be like Charmaine Yoest when she grows up.

I would like to be like Mary Eberstadt, who I really don’t know, other than finding her writing to be smart. A great article in the Wall Street Journal about the Pill, religion, the sexual revolution and why this matters, here. 

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Mar 28 2012

October Baby–what’s the point?

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I have mixed feelings around movies like October Baby. One side of me totally agrees with the filmmaker in this article about the movie. He has an audience and he is catering to it. Religious folks, be they conservative evangelicals or conservatives Catholics, deserve more respect than they currently get. All too often they are pigeon-holed as being radical, crazy, out of touch or all three.

However, I wonder what the point is of creating a movie that only the converted will go see.

The problem here is that while I’d like Hollywood to make better movies, those movies, in order to support life, need not touch on it quite so directly. I suppose what I’m interested in are high quality films that testify to the human spirit, which will, in turn, testify to the idea that life is worth living, through good times and bad.

I’m not saying movies like October Baby should not be made. I’m glad Jianna Gesson’s story of surviving an abortion is being told. But I suppose what I’m saying is that I hope the filmmaker will go on to tackle a range of topics, doing so from his faith perspective, speaking to life and faith in a manner that might be more subtle, as well.

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Jun 28 2011

A new media target: Michele Bachmann

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Here we go again. Seems to me that there truly is a double standard. President Obama was able to get away with getting the number of states in his own union wrong, as well as saying he was looking forward to meeting the president of Canada. His vice president is known for making factual errors.

But when Michele Bachmann gets John Wayne’s birthplace wrong, well then. This is news:

Bachmann officially launched her campaign Monday in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, but got a key fact about the city wrong during advance publicity for the event.

‘Just like John Wayne was from Waterloo, that’s the kind of spirit I have,’ Bachmann told a TV interviewer, referring to the iconic movie star.The only problem? John Wayne was born in Winterset, Iowa. Waterloo was once the home of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who was convicted of raping and murdering 33 boys and men in the 1970s.

I don’t know a lot about her. What I do know sounds impressive. She’s an attorney, with five kids, who also took in foster kids. It’s hard not to feel like there’s already a media campaign mounted against her.

What would it take for the media to be disinterested observers? Is that too much to ask? Or to do investigative reporting that doesn’t involve slamming Christians for being Christian? (I didn’t read too far into that last link. I did find it funny that apparently the author takes it as some sort of strange apocalyptic sign that Bachmann thinks God is calling her to run for the nomination. Newsflash, newsflash, pull out your notepads hostile journalists: Every practicing Christian out there thinks God is calling them to do something, and has placed them where they are for a reason. Believer or not, that’s the story of the Bible from start to finish: the idea that God uses people, aka us, to work in this world. So it’s not just crazy Republican candidates. I’d hazard to say Jimmy Carter thinks precisely the same thing.)

Anyway. I’ll reserve judgment until I know more but headlines indicating that Michele Bachmann doesn’t know where John Wayne was born do not disturb me. Sorry.

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Mar 02 2011

Mwana Palibe

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HIV is an epidemic everywhere, but perhaps nowhere is this more true than in Malawi. With a population of 14.8 million, close to 1 million are living with HIV. The Malawi government has stepped up its efforts to combat HIV over the years, but this newest attempt at prevention seems more than a little misguided.

Mwana Palibe, a cultural belief very popular in the lower shire districts of Nsanje and Chikhwawa has been named as one of the contributing factors to the wide spread of HIV and AIDS in the two districts.The belief, which prohibits couples from exercising their conjugal rights unless all the children who live in that particular house are in, is very popular among the Mang’anja people.

People of the two districts believe that once this tradition is breached, children fall ill from Kwashiorkor like diseases and they eventually die.

But speaking after Journalist Association Against Aids in Malawi, a grouping of media practitioners in the fight against Aids, visited the district, Traditional Authority Mlilima of Nsanje said there was no harm in couples having sex in the absence of their children.

“There is no any other connection in couples enjoying in bed and children falling ill. These are some of the beliefs we must eliminate if we are to win the fight against AIDS,” said the chief.

The association’s Chairperson Deogratias Mmana said the custom fires up men to be seeking relief outside their matrimonial circles.

“This is very dangerous because men can be tempted to go behind their wives and seek relief to other women, a thing which can accelerate the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country,” he said.

Wow, blaming wives for the spread of AIDS by cheating spouses, that’s rich! Ultimately, they’re saying “No no, your children won’t get ill and die if you have sex with your husband. They’ll get ill and die if you DON’T have sex with your husband.” I can’t imagine this message going over well, anywhere, or having any impact on the spread of HIV and AIDS.

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Feb 09 2011

“Anti-abortion doctors must provide referrals”

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On the one hand, my doctor’s office already has warnings up in the office about the services not provided, including that they won’t offer the birth control pill. So this seems uncontroversial from that standpoint. Doctors are already letting patients, or perspective patients, know their beliefs. On the other hand, this seems malicious. It singles out doctors who are actually providing excellent medical care as if they are subpar. I’d like, incidentally, to be warned if my doctor is the type who wouldn’t hesitate to refer for abortion.

And then, it’s one thing to let your patients know your beliefs. It’s another entirely to be forced to refer for abortions, which is wrong.

Last thing: This could be a moot point. I could barely find a GP after moving to Ottawa. In the Canadian system today, patients simply don’t get choices about which doctor to see.

Read about it here.


UPDATE: I just spoke to a solidly pro-life doctor in Saskatchewan who feels these new guidelines are not troubling. First of all, these are guidelines, not policy. A guideline falls into the realm of “what we’d like to see” not “what you must do.” That said, these guidelines seem to take into account the differing positions of pro-life and pro-choice doctors.

What the new guidelines say is that a pro-life doctor who won’t even touch the topic of abortion, period, should be up front about that. They could refer to another pro-life physician, for example. This is not about referring to an abortion clinic or a doctor who does abortions.

If I were to snap my fingers and get a medical degree today and start counselling women about their options, I certainly would be comfortable offering full information about abortion, the effects, what it does, and why it is a bad option, but also that yes, it is available without referral for anyone who can look a number up in a phonebook. The guidelines would also mean every doctor should provide a woman information about adoption and parenting; this would help immensely for all the women who are simply given the number for the nearest abortion clinic and nothing else.

So there’s two sides to this equation: There are anti-abortion doctors who conceal information in the hopes that a woman will hit the second trimester without aborting. There are pro-abortion doctors who hand out the number of the nearest clinic without doing anything else. Both offer equally poor medical treatment/advice.

I was also told by the pro-life doctor in Saskatchewan who shall remain nameless that the Star Phoenix did a better job of reporting the issue. I will link to that article at such time as it does not cause my computer to crash, as two attempts have just done, causing me to re-type this update twice now.

It’s a contentious issue. The sense I get, I am told, is that there was no malicious intent against pro-life doctors. I hope I have faithfully conveyed this conversation, because every word matters when it comes to abortion, guidelines, policy and sorting that through.

All in all, I do very much trust the Pro-Life Doctor In Saskatchewen (PLDIS) I spoke to, and if this PLDIS is not concerned, neither am I.

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Dec 09 2010

The release of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

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Astounding. Previous stories here and here.


Update: Looks like she wasn’t released at all.

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Nov 24 2010

To say nothing of making loud phone calls at the mall

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Good grief:

LUCKNOW, India — A northern Indian village has banned unmarried women from using cell phones for fear they will arrange forbidden marriages that are often punished by death, a local official said Wednesday.

The Lank village council decided unmarried boys could use mobile phones, but only under parental supervision, council member Satish Tyagi said. Local women’s rights group criticized the measure as backward and unfair.

Marriages between members of the same clan are forbidden under Hindu custom in some parts of north India, where unions are traditionally arranged by families. In conservative rural areas, families sometimes mete out extreme punishments, including so-called honor killings, for those who violate marriage taboos. In some cases, village councils themselves have ordered the punishments, though police often intervene to stop them.

The Lank village council feared young men and women were secretly calling one another to arrange forbidden elopements.

Part of me laughs, but mostly I’m horrified, of course. Marriage is tough enough without all those ridiculously backward rules one finds in ridiculously backward societies. Shame on these people.

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Nov 23 2010

I second that

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Paul Tuns has something nice to say about Laureen Harper:

Laureen Harper’s political activities are usually subtle and behind the scenes, so when the prime minister’s wife takes up the cause of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to be hanged for alleged infidelity, it is a big deal. She brought together more than a dozen prominent Canadians to brainstorm on the best way to ensure the cause remains in the public eye. I don’t believe Tehran cares one bit about international opinion, but it is nice to see Laureen Harper raising a genuine human rights issue.

I agree. Thank you, Mrs. Harper.

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Nov 16 2010

That’s some kind of choice

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There may be more to this story than what I can read here, but still. What on earth is going on? How do people get from disagreeing with your pro-life position to threatening violence for expressing it?

Lifesite news report that Mariska Orbán de Haas,  a Dutch Catholic pro-life journalist, has‘received hundreds of death threats and more than ten threats of torture. Her ‘crime’ against Dutch sensibilities was to write an open letter to pro-abortion parliamentarian Representative Jeannine Hennis-Plasschaert.

Lifesite news report:

‘The letter, published on October 27, sparked outrage in the largely liberal, pro-abortion Netherlands.  Orbán soon offered a public apology, but that has not prevented her from receiving an avalanche of angry responses. French journalist Jeanne Smits reports that the letter has generated 350,000 tweets on Twitter, and various sites have created distorted pictures of her face, portraying her as a devil.’

Mariska Orbán had written an open letter to Hennis-Plasschaert because she had called a letter from Bishop Everard de Jong ‘disgusting’ for asking ‘representatives to stop the killing of the unborn in the face of impending budget restrictions, pointing out that defunding “bloody abortion clinics” would save money and help preserve future generations who could care for the elderly.’ Along with the letter the Bishop had also sent a plastic model of a fetal humanbeing.

Orbán wrote to the representive publicly, pointing out that both she and Hennis-Plasschaert have experienced the suffering of miscarriages, and that the fetal model she received from Bishop De Jong would resemble their lost children at the time of their deaths.

“In that light,” asked Orbán, “is it not ‘disgusting’ that our society permits us to abort more than thirty thousand babies in the Netherlands every year?” She noted that children who die by abortion are “exactly the same as the mysterious little lives that we expectantly carried within us.”

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Nov 10 2010

Now let’s see… what sort of headline shall I put on this story?

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This story starts with hubby sending me a link to this:

A Muslim religious channel in Britain is being censored after allowing presenters on air to condone marital rape and violence toward women, and for calling women who wear perfume in mosques “prostitutes.”

The U.K. Daily Mail reports that in one program, the host told viewers that it was “not strange” and “not such a big problem” for a man to force his wife to have sex.

The U.K.’s T.V. watchdog, Ofcom, ruled the Islam Channel breached the broadcasting code in five different programs between May 2008 and October 2009.

At first, I must admit, I was rather confused. Weren’t we just told marital rape was impossible under Islam? I must have misunderstood.

And then I went googling around for fun, to see who was picking up the story (yes, looking for outraged feminists – no, didn’t find none… so far), and below is a screen capture of what I found. Look at the list of headlines (and news sources), and see if you can correctly identify each outlet’s bias. It’s a fun game!

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