seasons and planning, life the universe and all

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Thursday we spent outdoors in the cold, preparing the flowerbeds for winter. One of the harder things for me about living in New England has been the seasonality of life. There are seasons in Southern California, but they are more subtle and for years I was accustomed to pruning my roses just before Christmas and planting my bare-root shrubs and trees during the kids' winter break. Having to plan for snow and frost is rough for my psyche.
Gardening is, however, not only good for the body but good for the soul. It gives one time to reflect on all kinds of things, some of which is immediately forgotten, some of which percolates through the mind.
John took the time to write a little about what he was pondering during the gardening spree. I had some thoughts too, welling up as I was planting bulb after bulb (the last of the winter bulbs were discounted anywhere from 20% to 50% so I think I overbought - I know that I planted over 100 of the little beasties and John did his share too. I hope they all bloom!) But the news I heard when I got into work yesterday morning blew all those garden thoughts away. I just don't understand how anyone can beat an infant. Period. I just don't understand it at all.
I think that maybe part of what has happened is that our culture is so focused on planning and control that we don't easily tolerate the inconveniences of life. Margaret Sanger and the Planned Parenthood types have succeeded to a large extent in changing the cultural mileu. I have repeatedly seen that much of Gen X and Y don't seem to get that sex and babies are connected. Kids are repeatedly surprised that they are pregnant, despite the fact that they were having sex (often with more than one person). The contraceptive mentality is so pervasive that kids don't think they will get pregnant without wanting to - even if no contraceptive is used. Dawn Eden has gone into some of this in greater depth as she has dumpster dived PP. But I think that even she misses some of the points about the reasons God gave us sex.
Getting pregnant is seen as an inconvenience, not as the natural consequence of using the sexual faculties. A baby is seen as a burden, not as the greatest gift that God can bestow. An out-of-wedlock pregnancy is no longer seen as an informal marriage proposal. (old joke - a newly wed can accomplish in 6 months what it takes a cow or countess 9 months). Have any of you out there tried to explain the concept of a 'shotgun wedding' to a young adult? The amazing thing is that so many of these marriages did work, because the families of both parties pulled together and because the expectations on marriage were less about romantic love and infatuation, and more about learning to love each other and to work together to form a family.
Abortion has been promoted on many grounds, including the idea that a baby is better off killed in the womb than tortured or beaten after birth. It is a false choice, but horrific cases of child abuse like the one cited above are sometimes used as fodder for that argument. But I wonder if the dehumanization of the fetus and embryo that is a necessary part of abortion 'rights' has spilled over into a dehumanization of the human infant and human child? When we have so-called 'ethicists' like Peter Singer who state that parents should have the right to euthanize a born child, why are we surprised at reports of less formal infanticide or child abuse?
There is a large and vocal group that states the way to prevent abortion is through the promotion of effective contraception, and (though this part is usually whispered) encouraging the sterilization of 'the unfit'. It seems logical - people who aren't pregnant don't usually get abortions. It takes a lot more thinking to see how contraception, by encouraging 'free sex' and by disconnecting sex from babies, can actually lead to an increase both in abortion and in unexpected parenthood. I really think that we need to get across the idea that if you aren't ready for parenthood, you aren't ready to have sex. And in my ethos, being ready for parenthood means being married. Not having a certain income or various material goods, but having that sacramental relationship that will help you to get through the rough spots of sleepless nights anbd colicky babies, of sassy teenagers and rebellious toddlers.
I am actually not happy with the concept of a planned or unplanned pregnancy. Pregnancy is not really something that can be planned. It can be anticipated and prepared for, it can be a total surprise, it can be a happy event or a totally shocking and unhappy discovery - but it can't truly be planned. If you live in New England, you learn to expect snow in winter, but you can't really plan to have a white Christmas.

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Thank you, Alicia. I read that story too and I was horrified. While that case might be used as an argument for abortion, the only one that should have been aborted was the *father* of the baby. I hope he's in a jail cell now with several men who love their children and haven't seen their children in a couple of years...

I like the way you pulled the whole piece together with the frost. All we can do is prepare and be responsible for what is ours to take care of. The joys God gives us along the way are a blessing and not to be assumed as our right. :-) Thanks for your insights.

>>the only one that should have been aborted was the *father* of the baby

I gave serious consideration to deleting the comment just below this - the one from blahblah. In the end, I decided to leave it alone.
It is a matter of rhetoric for some to call for retroactive abortion. It comes out of a level of frustration with a culture that just doesn't get it. I am sure that the other side is equally frustrated that we just 'don't get it' about their values. It is a clash of culture and values.
However, ms or mr blahblah, if you return here, please leave a valid email address or webpage. I am all about polite discourse on issues and concerns. I despise sniping hit and run tactics.

You've got my email already, and I don't want to post it publicly. You can check IP numbers.

Frustration? I don't think so. The rest of the post follows along the same vein - that she hopes he's in a cell with an inmate who loves and misses his children. Well, the only inmate this guy is going to be sharing a cell with is someone who's a violent criminal also - but, hey, if he misses his kids, it's okay if he murdered an adult or raped some girl or used a gun to rob a gas station! And of course it'll be okay if those guys brutalize this guy because they love and miss their children. The sick thinking behind that post is not "frustration". It is exactly the mentality that feeds this huge nebulus of sin we're all living in, and that creates an atmosphere in which abortion is looked on as just another option

Because pro-"lifers" are not really pro-"life". They're pro-fetus, or pro-baby. Once that "life" starts getting a little messy and screwed up, it's value goes down in the pro-"lifers" eyes.

Yeah, what happened there is a tragedy. Yeah, I agree that people who aren't prepared to be parents shouldn't be having sex (actually, I don't think anyone should be "having sex", but, believe it or not, I'm a romantic at heart). But the real tragedy is that these people were so hideously _un_prepared to be, well, to be almost anything, let alone parents or a loving couple. Instead of gloating in the notion that he, too, will be brutalized, or thinking that he (a child of God) should have been aborted (and we won't even get into what that sentiment wishes on his mother, and so on...but sin never really begins or ends in one place, does it?), why not focus on something proactive you can do to prevent that kind of thing in the future? 'Cause until you do, it's all just the same hate going around and around in circles, spitting out it's victims along the way.

Answering hate with hate isn't the answer, true. That goes for all of us.
However, could I request that comments be directed at least partially to the content of the post and not just to the last commenter?
I can't speak for anyone but myself in the pro-life movement, but I don't forget that the baby grows into a child and then an adult, and that our culture as a whole needs to see that they have a safe place to grow up and to have their needs met. I am pro-life from conception to natural death. It isn't just about the fetus or the baby, it is about all of us imperfect humans. However, there is that wicked streak in us fallen humans that can be seduced into seeing revenge and punishment as a greater value than forgiveness and rehabilitation. It is hard but mandatory that we pray for those who have hurt us. What I have trouble understanding are those who are opposed to capital punishment for the guilty, but condone capital punishment for the innocent. There is moral inconsistency both in the pro-choice movement and the pro-life movement.

Well, I sort of addressed the particulars of the child abuse situation - it is horrific, but the true horror is that people like this couple are being churned out every day, and the reasons why are so complex they often seem insurmountable. When I read stories like that, and then delve into the stories behind the stories, I find it easy to believe that God threw up His hands in despair a long time ago and ran off to play with different people in another universe. You could hardly blame Him.

Look, I agree with you up, down and under on sexual attitudes and the cheapening of human sexuality and of life and of marriage, and all that stuff. I agree that the general acceptance of abortion as just another "lifestyle" option has contributed to that immensely, but I don't think it's as linear as you do. First of all, I'd have to see the statistics - has child abuse or infanticide risen in conjunction with the increase in abortion-on-demand? I honestly don't know, so I can't say if I agree with that or not.

Secondly, and this is just based on my own personal experiences and observations, I think a pretty good case can be made from the other end - that the lack of value society places on children has given rise to a generation of young adults who don't value life, either unborn or otherwise. How can you expect a young woman who has been virtually ignored by her own parents to place much value on a fetus she's carrying, especially if she's scared to death to be carrying it in the first place?

I don't have any answers, either, I guess, other than to move to my own private island, but I think the pro-life side has to be very careful of its rhetoric when responding to this kind of stuff - tying in child abuse to abortion is really worth looking at, but who's gonna look at it seriously if the knee-jerk reaciton on the part of the pro-lifers is that the perpetrators should have been aborted?

The hardest thing to do is to forgive. To forgive someone who has done an abominable thing, such as beating an infant, strains our ability to be truly Christian. Horror and anger sometimes blind us to our duties, something we need to try to overcome.

Look, just because someone is pro-life and anti-abortion does not mean that they think everyone is competent to be a parent. In this case, the father was obviously unable to deal with parenthood. He was not married to the (underaged) mother of the child. He was needlessly cruel and sadistic. He was, basically, a dirtbag who never should have dropped a sperm cell into any woman. The mother was also incompetent and unfit. I don't know her personal circumstances, but I would bet that they aren't good. She might not be the brightest girl, she certainly lacks ethics and morality and compassion for her own child. She doesn't need to be a mother until she has those qualities. This isn't eugenics but common sense-- she just doesn't have the skills that you need to raise a child. She needs to have the child taken away.

I don't understand why people like those do not choose to give their child up for adoption at the outset. Okay, maybe they feel the child is a possession, a thing, an object for them to dispose of as they like. Maybe that comes from having legalized abortion in this nation. Maybe they're just shallow dirtbags who don't understand the sanctity of life. Maybe they had good intentions, but drug abuse or mental deficiency limited their ability to carry though. Maybe they just wanted to hurt someone and the baby was a good outlet for them to do so.

Maybe our nation is so messed up that we'll never be able to fix it.

But the only way to prevent this kind of thing from happening is to strengthen families, to increase (on the state and local level) spending and quality of oversight and Child Protective Services, and to make a committment to each and every child born in the community that we will make sure they're safe. We've spent the past few decades engaged in a huge social experiment-- what happens when we take away accountability, smash the sexual mores, and pay to support those women who do not choose to wed before they breed? We're going to have to spend some money to fix these problems. We're going to have to tighten up the laws. We're going to have to try to reverse the damage that this experiment has wrought. It's not going to be easy. It's not going to be cheap. But we're investing in the future of our nation and our world, here. It needs to be done.

Oh....I'm with you on a lot of this, but forced removal of infants from mothers who aren't wed? I'm not sure if that's what you're advocating, but it kinda sounds like it does. Even in this case, perhaps if she had not been living with this man, this child would still be alive and she might have turned out to be a good mother. Good comes from evil all the time - not that I think having a baby out of wedlock is "evil".

You know, the fact that she's 17 and he's 25 is another issue - it's one of those stories behind the stories - I have a daughter who will be 17 next summer. Do you think for one minute that I'd let her leave the house if I thought she was associating with a 25 year old man? No way! So where were her parents? But that goes back to strengthening the families, and to my feeling that if we (in general) had taken better care of these young people when they were children - if we had respected _their_ lives enough to, well, frankly, just to be home when they got out of school in so many cases - then they might have more respect for life, either unborn or born, themselves. Pure speculation here, but perhaps if this young woman or this man had had better parenting, things would have turned out differently. At the very least, had she had loving parents, she'd have been able to leave him the first time he hurt the baby rather than cover for him and stay with him.

See, to me, you can't say you are pro-life and then say you don't support your tax dollars going to help unwed mothers who want to keep their babies. That's where people shut down on you. That's a brick wall, not a place where you can find common ground and begin a discourse. That approach definitely stops being pro-life and becomes pro-fetus or pro-baby. I'm not really sure if that's what you said, but it seems like it in your fifth paragraph. I could be wrong, though, and just be reading it incorrectly.

I don't know how anyone can hurt an infant. I suppose you can chalk some single instances of abuse up to incompetance, and some abusive situations up to the "cycle of abuse" issue, but repeated, brutal, deliberate abuse like this? I don't get it either. I don't know why women stay with these men, or why they are willing to sacrifice their children to protect them. I suspect there isn't one answer, and agree that untangling the mess we've (again, general) made of this society is going to take some seriously hard work and tough decision making.

As for adoption - that's really a far more complicated decision than most people understand. On the one hand, I hear pro-lifers scratching their head in befuddlement that women can kill their unborn, but then, on the other hand, they completely blow off these women and their natural bond with their child and scoff at their inability to give up their babies when they do have them. It's not easy, and, if you are advocating forced severing of parental rights for unwed mothers, or even for "high risk" mothers, all I can say is this is a Really Bad Idea. Sounds good, but if you think people have a cavalier attitude towards life now, wait 'til you see what the next generation looks like after widespread enforced "adoption" has been around for a few years. You'll create monsters.

I'd have deleted it (blah-blah). The lack of sympathy for the tortured child would have made it equivalent to deleting an obscenity.

I never expressed any lack of sympathy for the child. I just took exception to a ridiculously hypocritical response.

But, why bother. I mean, really. Why bother at all.

You're so unfreakin'believably better than anyone else in the whole goddamned world.

You know, you people show yourselves for the sanctimonious, holier-than-thou prigs you are every time you turn around.

Delete what you want.

I honestly just don't give a fuck any more.

Ms. Hurley (aka blahblah,anon, anonymous, and xxxxxxx), truly, we don't blog on the stuff we do (or at least I don't) just to try to upset you. I'm sorry that you have been hurt by some of the hypocrites that are out there. I think that you have some valid points, especially about how the pro-life movement can sometimes shoot itself in the foot. I would respectfully ask you to consider that the ways in which you communicate your points of view are abrasive enough that it is easy to lose the point of what you are trying to say. Blogging is an amateur form of communications for most of us. Amateur as in we do it for love, not money.
Of course it is easy to get self-righteous. There is a good scripture passage about that, something about splinters in the eye as opposed to logs.

It seems to me that Anon managed to take everything I said and just twist the most heartless interpretation out of it. I never suggested forcible removal of all children from underage mothers. Since I was an underaged mother, this would be a little hypocritical, no? I never suggested forcible adoptions, or cutting off all public support for unwed mothers, or any of the other slants that Anon managed to put on my post.

I apologize if my meanings were not clear. I don't think I advocated any hard and fast solutions, merely pointed out that we needed to develop solutions.

We've been engaged in such a long experiment with welfare that just suddenly ending it would be A Very Bad Thing. Suddenly ending it along with legalized abortion would be a terrifying thing. But that isn't to say that we don't need to come up with different ways to implement the programs or different strategies in order to strengthen families. I think that teaching adolescent girls the basics of fertility is a must. Right now, we're handing out condoms without explaining exactly what we mean by fertility, pregnancy risk, and "safe" sex. How many of them know how to number the days of their menstural cycle, even, much less the actual developmental stages of the embryo and fetus?

I do not "blow off" the bond between a mother and a child . . . but when someone is capable of allowing their infant to be repeatedly beaten, they obviously lack that bond. Working in child welfare is a thankless task, but it has to be done. People who abuse babies do not need to keep their babies. Not unwed mothers in general or older men living with younger women in general or teenaged moms in general. Just those who aren't able to bond with the kid enough to care that the baby is laying in her crib screaming from the agony of broken limbs. Preferably before they let the kid get beaten, but it's terribly hard to prevent. . . . Because of the sanctity of the parent/child bond. Because we give people the benefit of the doubt.

I'm very sorry that my response was not as humorous as I intended. I really only meant it to be kind of a poke at the idea that the way to prevent people from being victims was to kill them before they were preyed upon. Looking back at it, I see it was not funny, and I'm sorry. I did not mean for any venom to be spilled.

I now revise what I said: the only thing that should have been "aborted" was my comment. I wanted to make people laugh and instead it made people angry.

Alicia made a fine entry, and I'm sorry that my comment distracted from the excellent point she made at the end: you can plan and prepare for your responsibilities in life, but you can't insure perfection.

If I'm abrasive, it's because I've just about had it with the so-called Catholic country club members who think they've been personally sent down from above to decide who is and who isn't worthy of God's love. I am sick to death of blog entry after blog entry about how the author is sooooo tired of the less than perfect Catholics who are ruining "their" Church. Maybe some of these bloggers should try and see just how "abrasive" their posts are to the less than perfect, if they can manage to climb down off their pedestals long enough to bother. As for doing this out of "love", I think there is a fair number of bloggers who do it for love of themselves, not love of anything else. Last time I checked, it was supposed to be Christ's church, but I think He left the house a long time ago. Frankly, I'm at the point where I really don't think there's an active God in this world anymore, just a whole lotta God-brokers vying for the next customer - or victim. Scripture readings don't mean all that much to me anymore, either. They're just like statistics - anyone can twist them any which way to do whatever they want with them. That kind of stuff is just white noise to me now.

I did NOT put a slant on "m'lynn"'s post. I stated SEVERAL times that I might have been reading it wrong, but that was the impression I was getting. Questioning the support of mothers who don't "choose" to wed before they give birth and calling it a social experiment sounds a lot to me like you think it's a bad idea. Saying you don't understand why people "like these" don't choose to put their babies up for adoption DOES blow off the bond between mother and child. "These" people don't plan on becoming what they've become. The rest of us can't predict who will and who won't abuse - child abuse knows no social or economic boundaries. We just hear about the crap that goes on in welfare families and poor, immigrant or illegal alien communities because nice wealthy white people who break their babies' bones have the wherewithall to keep it all very hush-hush. Also, the adoption issue is another of those knee-jerk pro-lifer reactions that hurt their argument more than help it. Over and over again, I hear, 'Oh, so just put it up for adoption!" from pro-lifers like it's on the same level as putting out the recycling on Thursday mornings. You have to understand how that sounds from the pro-abortion perspective - to them, and to people like me, that sounds like you're blowing off the mother/child bond.

You know, the smartest thing the pro-abortion side ever did was separating the mother and her unborn child in people's minds by emphasizing the rights of the mother. The dumbest thing the pro-life side did was play along by emphasizing the rights of the fetus. You can't separate the two, which is the whole bloody reason why abortion is so horrible. A mother and her child, for the nine months she carries him or her, are this amazing, incredible, beautiful unit - this ONE thing - I don't even know how to express it, it's so awesome - but until we put the baby and the mother back together in the world's eyes, it's just us v. them, lots of screaming and shouting on both sides, banners and signs and t-shirts all competing for air-time, blahblahblah...

Whatever. At the end of the day, none of this matters and people are going to do what they want to do anyway.

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This page contains a single entry by alicia published on November 13, 2004 8:02 AM.

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