Wednesday, February 29, 2012

An Immoral Proposal

At first, I thought this (linked below) had to be a satire a la Jonathan Swift because it was so outlandish. But I have the dark feeling that the authors of this evil proposal are serious, so I repressed throwing up long enough to write this post.

After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live? “Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life.”

Do I really need to point out how awful this is? If a newborn baby isn’t a person, then when does someone become a person? The brain doesn’t stop developing until age 25, so am I still just a “potential person?” Should my parents have the right to kill me? The authors even say that a human is not always a person, but in some cases, animals can be persons. Nonsense logic like that should only exist in Lewis Carroll poems.

I found the worse line to be (and there were plenty to choose from), “Nonetheless, to bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.” So avoiding inconvenience is worth more than a life? According to the authors, yes, especially if the state as to pay for it.

In the world where this is acceptable, life only has value if a person is wanted, healthy, smart, and deemed useful to society. Anyone “inferior” can be cast aside. And the killing of “inferiors” is seen as a merciful act, reliving them and others of a difficult life. Well, guess what? Life is difficult. Life is full of suffering and sickness. But who gets to decide if someone else’s life is worth living?

There is already a term for “post-birth abortion.” It’s infanticide. Calling a child a fetus doesn’t make it less-than a child. Calling murder abortion doesn’t make it less-than murder. The authors say, “In spite of the oxymoron in the expression, we propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide’, to emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus.” Well, I actually agree with them there. The moral status of the newborn is comparable with that of a pre-born. I just happen to think neither should be killed while the authors seem to think both should.

Please, tell me I’m wrong about this. Tell me that this was a highly satirized article, and that I accidently wondered onto The Onion’s website disguised as a medical journal.

Friday, February 24, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 22)

1. How has Lent kicked off for everyone?

2. This week started off pretty rough, but it’s turned out well.

3. The weather is having the same emotional ups and downs that I am. It snowed Sunday night, got warm Tuesday, cold again Wednesday, and hit 75 degrees Thursday. I can never seem to dress appropriately for the weather; I feel like Goldilocks (“This skirt is too cold." "This sweater is too warm.")

4. Only one week of school until Spring Break! As usual, I’m spending Spring Break with my mother, ‘cause I’m cool like that. I’m really excited to go see my aunt in Texas with her!

5. But before that, I have two tests and a presentation. I’m not a fan of the group presentation, especially when the assignment is something I could have handled on my own, but now I have to make sure six people all contribute evenly. I even have a good group this time in that they all seem to care about the class, and most are good about participating, but it’s still a hassle. Fortunately, we’ll have our presentation done before the break, and I can spend the last half of the semester going solo.

6. I meant to mention this last week, but I highly recommend Midnight in Paris. If you don’t mind its predictability, the Woody Allen humor and plethora of 1920s big shots will keep you entertained.

Plus, you get to see Adrien Brody as Salvador Dali.

7. Glad Jen is back to hosting and posting after taking a break to finish her book draft! I hope I one day reach the point of taking any of my half-started stories to the completed draft stage.

Check out others' Quick Takes over there!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yelling at God

Earlier in the week (Sun-Tues), I hit an emotional bump. I was anxious for no clear reason. Then I started looking for reasons, try to find the problem that was causing this sense of panic. I began to doubt what I was doing. Suddenly, six weeks seemed very, very short, and I felt utterly unsure.

I was still sure I was going to join to the Church, just unsure that it would be this year. Or that maybe I would join too soon and then regret it. And then what? I kept running things over in my head. Rationally, nothing was different. I still believed the same things. But there was this hovering anxiety, keeping me up at night, making my breathing short. Why was this feeling taking over if it wasn’t even going to provide me an insight?

So then I got mad. I’m not normally an angry person; I just don’t have the energy for it. But for three days, I got mad at God. My prayers were demands for explanations. Why make me doubt just days before the Rite of Election? What kind of timing is that? Don’t let this turn into some Dark Night of the Soul; I’m not ready for that. I had never prayed in anger before. I was mad at Him, and mad at myself for getting mad.

But then the feeling passed, still with no explanation. The deep depression I was sure would follow the anxiety never came. No one observing me could even tell that something was/had been wrong. I’m fine, and I’m sure that I’m on the right path for me at this time. But for three days, God let me throw my tantrums at Him. I’ve never been more sure that He’s listening to me more than when I was making angry demands, like He was there patiently waiting for me to wear myself out.

And maybe that’s the perfect way to start Lent: a little angry, a little hurt, a little embarrassed, and worn out from it all.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

40 Things for Lent

I was inspired by Rachel Held Evans' post that had 40 ideas for Lent. I adapted it to 40 things that I will use to try to keep me focused this season.

5 Books
1. Journey to Easter, Benedict XVI
2. On the Incarnation, St. Athanasius
3. Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales
4. The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis
5. "Four Quartets," T. S. Eliot

5 Musical Pieces
1. Eyes Wide Open, Jars of Clay
2. Gethsemane, Jesus Christ, Superstar
3. Remember When It Rained, Josh Groban
4. Be Not Afraid, Lost and Found
5. Kyrie from Requiem, Mozart

10 Questions
1. Will I be as spiritually fit as possible for Confession/Confirmation/Eucharist?
2. What concrete steps can I put in place to achieve #1?
3. How will I motivate myself to read/meditate/pray every single day?
4. How will I love my neighbor?
5. Will I be more open and honest in discussing my beliefs with others?
6. What new practice can I learn to help me grow spiritually?
7. Is what I chose to give up for Lent something a) I encounter every day, b) not particularly good for me, and c) that the denial of which will be noticeable and make me remember why I am denying myself?
8. Will I not complain about fasting/abstaining? Matthew 6:16-18
9. What steps do I need to take in order to prepare for first Confession?
10. How will I handle moments of nervousness and doubt approaching Confirmation?

10 Rituals
1. Pray the Rosary daily. (Been meaning to start this for months, but maybe Lent can get me to actually make it a daily habit.)
2. Give up chocolate.
3. Abstain from meat on Fridays.
4. Collect all my loose change fromt the year to make donation to charity (undecided as to which yet).
5. Slow down: More candles, more books, more recipes, less tech, less fast food.
6. Dress modestly for church. That I was immodest before, but I’ve decided to always wear a skirt in church now, so that also includes hose/tights to cover legs, and although this may change in the summer, long sleeves as well. I’ve considered veiling, and while I’m not going to for now, it’s still a possibility if I think it would be a bigger benefit than distraction.
7. Pray for those I don’t get along/agree with.
8. Attend Stations of the Cross
9. Attend Adoration (really excited for this one!)
10. Go to first Confession (not as excited…but looking forward to it nonetheless)

10 Meditations
1. Lord’s Prayer
2. John 1:1-5
3. Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. –St. Augustine
4. True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice. –St. Francis de Sales
5. Matthew 6:16-18
6. Prayer of St. Francis
7. Chaplet of Divine Mercy
8. Agnes Dei
9. "When you approach the tabernacle remember that he has been waiting for you for twenty centuries." –St. Josemaria Escriva
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
-T.S. Eliot

Friday, February 17, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 21)

1. I’m rereading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and it’s reminding me how long it’s been since I’ve read fiction. Now I sort of wished I had started with Book 1 and worked my way through the whole series.

2. On a related note, I’ve decided to read a lot more during Lent. I definitely want to slow down and cut down on the TV watching. I’m not setting any rules, goals, or reading lists, just telling myself to slow down.

3. I watched this video last night about how TV watching in the first years of life is making children hyperactive and risk-taking. It was pretty depressing. I watched quite a bit of TV when I was preschool age, but it was almost exclusively the slow-paced educational programming variety. Maybe that’s why I’m perfectly fine sitting through a three-hour evening class.

4. I’m giving chocolate up for Lent. And since I’ve gotten in the habit of having something chocolaty every evening, this is going to be difficult. But it’s hard not to do it when you realize it’s good for the body and soul.

5. It may be obvious that I have Lent on the brain, with Ash Wednesday next week. Honestly, it’s my favorite liturgical season. Advent probably would be if it weren’t hijacked by secular, material Christmas. But no one wants Lent, because it’s a downer, so those of us that recognize its importance get to keep it for ourselves.

6. I’m reminded of an Ash Wednesday three or four years ago. A friend and I had gone to the evening Ash Wednesday service at the Presbyterian church and then gone to the grocery store for our weekly grocery run. A Hispanic man came up to us, very excited to see that we had ashes. I couldn’t quite understand all he was saying, but it was clear that he was happy to have spotted other Catholics observing the holiday. I sort of explained we were Presbyterian, and he said it didn’t matter because we recognized the importance of Ash Wednesday, that we got it. It was a really sweet encounter, and made me sort of wish that we marked our faith on our foreheads more often.

7. On the other end of the spectrum is the large number of low-church Protestants who have no idea what Ash Wednesday or Lent is. They’ll ask why there is a mark on my head, and I’ll say Ash Wednesday, and they’ll give me a glazed expression, and I’ll start to explain Lent, and they’ll just say, “Oh” and try to change the subject as quickly as possible. It’s really frustrating, not that they don’t observe Lent, but that they don’t even know what it is. Maybe encounters like these happen to remind me to pray for people who don’t even know what they’re missing.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It is a Far, Far Better Death I Go To...

While thinking about my singleness, a line runs through my head. I don’t know if it’s a quote I picked up somewhere, or just a concise thought that originated in my mind:

“It’s easier to be martyr without mouths to feed.”

At the surface, it’s certainly true. When your duty is to protect and raise your children, I think most people would agree you should be more hesitant about putting yourself at risk. But on a deeper level, why does this idea keep popping into my head related to my singleness?

Does part of me find easiness to be a martyr a benefit of being single? There are two problems I find with that: assuming being a martyr is ever easy and that I would want to become a martyr.

Because I feel so unsure about my future, maybe I do see martyrdom as some idealized potential. But much like being single, whether I want it or not isn’t the question. It’s more important that I do the right thing with the situation I’m given. Am I fortified enough in my faith that I could be a martyr? No. But I think that’s a noble enough goal to gauge my faith with.

For me, I do find it easy to say that I would die for my faith. What else is there to die for? In a clear-cut situation, where I had to die or renounce my faith, I find martyrdom the easy choice. But rarely is the situation clear-cut. Standing up for the faith is usually more insidious than a direct command to obey or not. And the consequence is usually expensive, isolating, drawn-out and torturous. I cannot estimate what I might face and what my response would be. As a white, upper-middle class American, I don’t have much experience with persecution. And that’s why I’m not quite sure why I keep thinking about martyrdom.

In the end, I think it just shows how attracted I am to the darker, more somber parts of the faith that I can find comfort in the thought of martyrdom. After all, if you find it happy and easy to be a Christian, you’re doing it wrong.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine to Me

It’s Valentine’s Day, so I’m supposed to feel one of two ways: extremely excited to be in a relationship or extremely bummed out that I’m not. But to me, it just feels like any other day. I’m not jealous of the girls gushing about their relationships (and yes, it’s been just girls). I’m not feeling sorry that I’m single. Today just feels like an ordinary day with some extra chocolate floating around.

It has taken me a long time to be ok with my single status. And that’s because I don’t consider myself single “right now,” but just single, with the possibility that I’ll be single forever.

Getting married and having kids is one of those assumptions I’ve just always grown up with. Go to college, get married, have kids. They were spoken of as not possibilities, but inevitabilities. I spent Sunday mornings looking at the front of the church, decorating it in my mind for my wedding. I went to school expecting to go into a career I loved, but only for 8 or 10 years, because surely by then I’d be staying at home with my children.

I still want to get married and stay at home with my children. But I know that what I want might be different what will be. I don’t particularly feel called to the married life. On the other hand, I don’t feel particularly called to a religious life or celibate lay life either. My vocation is up in the air. Right now, God’s just telling me to join the Church. After that, I don’t know. It was frustrating at first, but I’ve gotten used to it.

But the silence on this issue has given me room to seriously contemplate that I might not get married. And if I don’t, what does that mean? My biggest concerns aren’t that I’m missing out on being a mother, or having sex, or all the lovey-dovey feelings of romance. My first concern is that my parents will be disappointed in not having grandchildren, and my second is that I will be unsupported in my old age. Both are the hazards of being an only child that I thought having children would alleviate.

There is the social stigma too. I’m not that old, but around here, 23 is creeping on old to not be engaged or married. Everyone assumes you want to be married, so if you are older and aren’t married, you get pity. Not many people understand being called to be single, especially a chaste singledom. Maybe it’s just a Bible Belt thing, but girls are constantly reassured that God has the perfect guy waiting for her in some not-too-distant future. I loathe hearing people say that. I don’t believe in “the one.” I believe people can fall in love, be very compatible, and commit to one another, but that’s different than God lining all of humanity up Noah’s ark style. That idea leaves no room for people who don’t wind up madly in love, by choice or circumstance.

So if I do fall in love again, and if we decide that God wants us to commit to marriage, then that’s wonderful. But if not, God hasn’t forsaken me. I haven’t failed in finding “the one” God picked out for me. God will make good use of me either way.

“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” -C. S. Lewis

Friday, February 10, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol.20)

1. We got the Lenten schedule at church this week. I’m so excited. And not just because Easter means joining the Church this year, but because I just really like Lent. I like Ash Wednesday. I like the darker, dirtier parts of the faith.

2. I didn’t get much writing done this week because of tests and presentations. And procrastination.

3. Cookie cakes are awesome.

4. So are Roman numeral birthday candles.

5. I’ve found that I can keep myself entertained for almost an hour just by putting various words in Google’s Ngram. It measures and compares word usage over a period of time. I find it fascinating.

6. I watched the big game last Sunday. I'm talking about Puppy Bowl VIII of course. Go, Fumble!

7. Um...yeah. See #2. Procrastination.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 19)

1. Fact I learned this week: The Bonfire of the Vanities took place on my birthday, February 7th.

2. My 91-year-old granddad is still trying to figure out his new computer. I find it so adorable that I don’t even mind when he emails me spammy jokes.

3. I had my first English muffin this week. Not quite sure why I’d never had one before. Anyway, my mom fixed an egg, avocado, and bacon sandwich on an English muffin, and it was delicious.

4. For one of my classes, we had to participate in a group of team building exercises. I’m pretty sure the person who comes up with team building exercises just tries to create the corniest games for adults to play, knowing that the shared embarrassment will lead to some sort of bonding. Since that’s the point, I guess they are pretty successful. And it was certainly better than just sitting in a three-hour class.

5. I have two exams and one presentation next week. That’s why too much for someone only taking three classes. But I’m still enjoying it, and I’m really glad I decided to go back to school. Maybe I’ll just be a professional student.

6. I’m looking forward on catching up on "Sherlock" this weekend. I love that each episode is 90 minutes; I feel like I get to watch a new movie each week.

7. Speaking of movies, I really want to see The Artist, but of course, it’s not playing anywhere near here. Even though I know it won’t, I hope The Artist starts a silent trend in film, because I love old silents.

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