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Archive for the ‘Philosophy and Theology’ Category

Okay, so now you know Cora’s textbook-perfect hospital birth story. And you have read my intellectual overview of why homebirths are not nearly as risky as doctors would have you believe. Which means it’s finally time for me to share all my personal motivations for this big decision.

Wonder woman pregnant1. Nathan (and Cora)

Nathan wants nothing to do with the birth (“I just want to be out of the house!”), which is ironic, because it was seeing him separated from Cora by a wall of glass that made me want to not do a hospital birth again. Just because he wasn’t 16, he wasn’t allowed to come and meet, see, and hold his brand new baby sister. Of all the stupid %##@! rules… How ridiculously arbitrary is that?

What I envision instead: Baby’s siblings allowed to be present (or not!) for the birth… Cora playing in the birthing pool with me, asking “What’doing?” and checking out the birthed placenta. Nathan going to see a movie with grandparents and coming home to hold and rock his littlest brother.

2. Michael.

Husbands seem to be second-hand citizens in a tight-on-space hospital. He was always present in the first birth, but actual involvement was pretty limited to hand-holding and verbal encouragement. Then, after the birth, he has to go home? Two nights in a row? Are you kidding me??

What I envision instead: Michael beside me in the pool, or me hugging him as I stand and sway through a contraction. Him catching the baby as it emerges and us cuddling in bed after: newborn snuggled between us and the older kids piled on top.

3. Comfort & Care

I’m  not going to dance around the point — giving at birth just sounds so much more enjoyable than in a hospital. I don’t have to scramble to put clothes into a bag and drive through the cold at any hour of the day so I can filled out reams of paperwork and sit uncomfortably in a chair  to wait among a crowd of strangers under fluorescent lights for the attention of an overworked staff member who only knows me by the marks on a chart.

Also, pre-natal care. The first time I went to see Dr. A, I sat in his waiting room for TWO HOURS before he saw me. At which point, he examined me for 10 minutes and left. The first time I went to see my midwife, I also sat for two hours — on her sofa, talking about me and my pregnancy and my concerns — and received plenty of personalized care. At the birth, I will have the undivided attention of three women (who have all had their own homebirths) attending to me and the baby.

What I envision: Experiencing my first contractions and taking a walk around the property with Michael, keeping track of duration and timing. Calling the midwife and letting her know how I’m progressing so she and her assistants can come to my home where I have an indoor jacuzzi (thanks to the Argenbrights!!) filled with warm water, jets, and soothing essential oils. My family and friends coming in to check on me and offer me encouragement in a casual way, maybe stopping to chat, or simply give me a hug. Playing my “Inspiration” playlist at full blast or listening to the soothing voice of my Hypnobabies tapes. Bouncing on my ball or climbing into the tub or squatting in a doorway or holding onto Michael for dear life as I scream or cry, or laugh or sing.

I envision doing this My Way.

4. Inter-Connectedness.

Several years ago, Michael’s great-grandmother was ill and we were considering taking her into our home for her final days. I had to be okay with the fact that Death would be present in our home. And you know what? I welcomed it. Somehow, our migration to urban-life and modernity disconnected us from the two points where our present lives intersect with Eternity — all of our births and deaths occur outside of the home, in a sterile hospital, surrounded by strangers, connected by wires instead of prayers.

What I envision: A home that has sheltered Life in the Raw. Children who have experienced that life can be messy, but have found beauty in the blood.

5. Empowerment.

Because a doctor has years of medical training, we trust him to know better than us how to get a baby out safely and efficiently. And I’m sure that he knows exactly everything that could possibly go wrong and what to do in those situations.  Unfortunately, what he does not have is a body that has been created to make humans, a body that has evolved with instinctual knowledge about how to bring life into the world. Don’t get me wrong — I love epidurals with the best of them, but I want to go head-to-head against the Curse of Eve… and WIN.

Any woman who has carried a child knows that it is a pivotal turning point in one’s concept of one’s self  as Woman. Suddenly, “goddesses” make sense — we achieve the Divine. We are Givers of Life. This is my way of embracing that.

What I envision: Me standing fully in my power, trusting in the grace of God, knowing exactly what to do. Me listening to my body and my baby; reason and instinct united, moving in rhythm with the wisdom of the ages.

…I’m sure there are more reasons and clearer visions, but that’s a good start.  🙂

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This comes from Scriptorium Daily. Worth the read, especially for everyone who teaches anyone anything…

“What’s a good question? That’s a good question.

A good question evokes curiosity by exhibiting curiosity.”

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I have been less than impressed by Disney’s animated films since the Lion King. [Please Note: None of the following criticism appertains to the Pixar films, which I do not associate with Disney, despite the corporate structure].   Not only have the originality of the storylines, the creativity of the dialogue, and the quality of the animation have been going slowly down hill, but I felt the underlying message of the tales was increasingly non-Christian.  One of the biggest indicators of this trend was the nature of the villains: they were ambivalently evil, often the product of misguided aspirations or ignorance, who failed to come to justice.

Needless to say, when I heard Disney was adding a “new Princess” to the classic cannon, I thought it was a last ditch effort to increase paraphernalia sales.  I suspected that her skin tone was a politically-motivated means of extending the brand to a new demographic and was bemused by the idea of a princess in New Orleans. On top of this skepticism was laid an inherent dislike of voodoo. I never really planned on seeing it, but tonight as I was scrolling through my instant Netflix, I decided to give it a shot, and I’m glad I did.

PLOT: A poor black girl, Tiana, grows up with a seamstress mother who makes dresses for a rich, spoiled but nice white girl (who befriends Tiana) and a hard-working father who dreams of opening his own restaurant. First point of commentary: I LOVE the family dynamic of these three — there is genuine love and respect and they enjoy each other. Very rarely do I find an example of this kind of quality family in any kind of media; I believe we need more images of whole and happy families to inspire us in our own homes.

Tiana’s father dies in what I’m guessing is World War I and Tiana becomes a little obsessed with fulfilling her father’s dream. She works multiple jobs as a waitress to save pennies in jars and holds onto her dream despite receiving regular skepticism and temptations to “play”. Again, this concept of working hard, saving diligently, and putting a long term goal before immediate pleasure is rare.

Tiana’s rich friend, Charlotte, has always dreamed of marrying a prince and what do you know? The ethnically-ambiguous Prince Naveen of Maldonia arrives in New Orleans. He looks very fancy, but he has been disowned by his parents for being a playboy and so he has come to woo and marry the heiress, Charlotte. On the way to her house, he and his servant are drawn in by the Shadow Man who uses voodoo to reveal their secret desires: Naveen, “for green” and the servant, to become like the people he serves (he is, as far as I can tell, Mavolio from Twelfth Night, so that is what I shall call him despite the film naming him Lawrence). Hence, the Shadow Man turns the prince into a frog, and using the prince’s blood, makes the servant look like Naveen.

Now, despite my initial hesitation about the voodoo, I think it is used perfectly here. The magic the Shadow Man uses is obviously evil; he has friends “on the other side” which are fiends; and he, like Satan, uses our perceived desires to ensnare us and lure us into places we don’t want to be. It is in no way attractive. The result is continual fear and enslavement. Nor, do we find later, is his power even real — he is borrowing the power from “his friends” whom he clearly fears and they are only in it for the expected returns of more power and more souls; his own soul is the collateral for the loan. The Shadow Man is the truest depiction of evil I have ever seen in a G-rated film.

So now Tiana is at Charlotte’s costume party, dressed like a princess, and so Naveen asks her to kiss him and restore him. He is as slimy on the inside as he is on the outside, but Tiana agrees on the condition that he help her fund her restaurant. Instead, her kiss transforms her into a frog as well [moral: shortcuts often lead to dead ends]. Now they wind up in the swamp and are directed to find Mama Odie by an alligator and a firefly. While the alligator is mostly comic appeal, the firefly ends up being one of my favorite characters. He is a gap-toothed, French-speaking hillbilly and I expected the director would use the stereotype to get a few laughs. Instead, the depth of this little guy continually unfolds as one of the wisest, most loyal and romantic souls in recent animated history. He is in love with the evening star, whom he calls Evangeline [gospel?], and his faith in her inspires the other characters; she lights their paths.  In the end, he sacrifices himself for his friends and sure enough, a second star appears in the sky, connected in radiance to Evangeline. He’s like a red neck’d Dante.

Naveen and Tiana find Mama Odie, a blind (Tiresias!) toothless woman who wears white and uses what I’d consider white magic.  They are told that while they know what they want, they do not know what they need, and are sent on their journey back to New Orleans to be kissed by Charlotte who will be Princess of Mardi Gras until midnight. By this point, Naveen has fallen in love with Tiana and wants to propose (yay for marriage!), but he thinks she only cares about her restaurant and so he decides to marry Charlotte so he can fund that goal. About the time the firefly reveals Naveen’s secret love to Tiana, Naveen is stolen by the Shadow Man’s “friends”, his blood is used to make Malvolio look like the prince again who in turn starts to marry Charlotte atop a wedding cake float in the middle of the Mardi Gras parade when the firefly frees Naveen who interrupts the ceremony. Tiana ends up with the medallion that carries Naveen’s blood and hence maintains Malvolio’s charade. The Shadow Man offers to grant her all her wishes, but she realizes that even though her father never got what he wanted — the restaurant — he had what he needed — his family. She smashes the medallion which means that the Shadow Man cannot keep his bargain with the demons, who drag him into hell (they are fittingly already in a cemetery for this scene). It’s the perfect demonstration that evil never offers mercy and the wages of sin is death.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t break the spell and by the time Tiana makes it back to Naveen and explains she loves him, it’s too late for Charlotte to transform him. So, they decide to get married by Mama Odie as frogs, and sure enough! When Naveen kisses Tiana (who has been made a princess by her wedding vows) they both transform back into humans. It’s a classic comedic ending, where good triumphs and love offers redemption. They then also get married in church and Naveen’s parents show up (restoration of relationship with repentance of folly). They buy Tiana’s desired property, not with royal supplements, but with Tiana’s jars of coins, and working by hand, side by side, they create her dream restaurant. The end.

All in all, I highly recommend this film for its classic and Christian themes as well as some fun Randy Newman jazz-inspired music.

C.S. Doemner

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Through a friend’s Facebook page, I found the following conversation. It seems to have been sparked by the following “article” which was quoted on a Creationist website. I’ve linked both so that you can see for yourself how remarkably insubstantial anything resembling an argument for Creationism is on either site… The gist? Scientists found a rock with a screw in it. It might have come from aliens. End quote.

YET, it sparked an eye-opening and rather entertaining dialogue, which I have copied below, because I would like to get others’ feedback. Where would you have jumped in and what would you have said?

________________________________________________________

Tanya Nguyễn: creationist page says this is evidence of a young earth!

Say what?! Physical evidence that the Earth is young!

A screw embedded in rock found in the Gansu Xijiang area of China. Scientific an…See More

By: We CAN and we WILL find 1,000,000 Creationists by June 2011

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Javier Estrada Dejo ok, so the screw is at least 6 million years old, as old as the rock, ergo, Earth must be 6 thousand years…

W T F????!!!

2 hours ago • Like

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Tanya Nguyễn well, no. that’s the chinese. the creationsits, say “you are wrong, it’s new, and so is the earth

2 hours ago • Like

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Javier Estrada Dejo even dumber, so… what business had a screw inside of a rock, when the earth was created… and no human was around?

2 hours ago • Like

o

Stephen Frost Surely the massive flaw is assuming the screw is as old as the rock. Surely the earth’s plates are always moving etc and it’s possible it got squashed in somehow or whatever. I mean, a 6 million year old screw seems unlikely. Creationists are so stupid.

2 hours ago • Like

(more…)

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Good Friday / C. Rossetti

Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon–
I, only I.

Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

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Good Friday


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No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.

John Donne

In good cartoonist form, Scott Adams starts with a killer hook: “Why do we make B students sit through the same classes as their brainy peers? That’s like trying to train your cat to do your taxes—a waste of time and money. Wouldn’t it make sense to teach them something useful instead?” in his WSJ article “How to Get a Real Education.”

He goes on to relate his personal experience of taking initiative and creating para-business ventures throughout his college years, demonstrating the fact that he learned management, loopholes, buy-in and other crucial business skills outside of a classroom.   He asserts that instead of filling students’ heads with art history,  physics, chemistry, calculus and classic literature, we should be cultivating entrepreneurial skills by teaching them to (1) combine multiple skills rather than trying to master one, (2) fail forward and view failure as a process rather than an obstacle, (3) be where the action is, (4) attract luck by DOING something, (5) conquer fear by learning to enjoy things like public speaking that scare the rest of the population, (6) write simply, and (7) learn persuasion.

One part of me is very attracted to his line of reasoning.  I’m going to assert (with no expertise to back me up) that since the Industrial Revolution, most educational organizations are set up with a single directive in mind: create human cogs for businesses.  Unfortunately, the Industrialization is moving overseas and we are not training our kids to ride the wave of the Informational Revolution that began two decades ago–where creativity will be more important than conformity, and risk-taking more necessary than compliance.  If our schools are going to create worker bees, they need to create a new kind of worker bee, and training them to be entrepreneurs may be the perfect remedy.

Another part of me is repulsed by Adams’ definition of “Real Education.”  I believe education should be a whole-soul endeavor, training an individual’s heart, mind, and body to be unified in pursuit of the Good, the True and the Beautiful.  I’ll agree that art history may not be immediately applicable for non-curators, but it opens your eyes to see what human beings are capable of creating, trains you to recognize beauty, and hopefully, empowers you to walk confidently into an art museum or gallery with healthy anticipation and enjoyment.  Physics may be ruled by Einstein, Hawking, and Sheldon Cooper, but even just the elementary introduction I received from my dad in high school was enough to cause me to be blown away by the complexity of the universe, and I certainly play billiards and Angry Birds with a much keener awareness thanks to my basic understanding of vectors and velocity. What does it hurt knowing that there are over one hundred elements and you only know the abbreviations to two of them and the rest end in -ium?  While you may never be a rocket scientist, taking a class in calculus should at the very least give you a valuable dose of humility.  And, of course, my personal soap box: classic literature. Heck, literature in general. Why should we make ninth graders read Romeo and Juliet or freshman undertake the Iliad?  Because (1) reading well is an essential asset in a world of print, (2) reading literature thoughtfully develops the critical thinking functions of your brain which allows you to engage the rest of life with curiosity and the ability to problem-solve, (3) literature allows you to experience multiple lifetimes before you’re halfway through your own, hopefully deepening and broadening your soul with compassion and wisdom, and (4) it incorporates you into the fold of Humanity writ large so that you realize you are not an island, but instead the youngest of a long line of brothers.

My solution: Get a world-class, classical liberal arts education to become a good person, then go on to a master’s program to learn a useful skill. In my case, entrepreneurship.

C.S. Doemner

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