Tilling Good Ground

As a college junior, she was a latecomer to my freshman English class. The subject of our discussion was the 2001 book Peace like a River by Leif Enger. Filled with allusions to the Bible, historic events, and Zane Grey westerns, the book has plenty of fodder for discussion in a college-level class.

What caught this particular student’s eye was a line that repeats throughout the text as the narrator/main character, an 11 year old boy, advises the reader to “make of it what you will.” The it he refers to is Christian faith, faith in the miraculous works that come only from God. The narrator isn’t pushy about faith. He simply unfolds the miracles and invites the reader to draw his own conclusions.

My student found that very appealing. She explained that she had rejected faith because it had always been a source of contention in her home. Her father had come from one denomination, her mother from another. They had never been able to find the peace that Christ offers and Enger depicts.

My experience growing up as the product of a ‘mixed marriage’ was quite different. Continue reading “Tilling Good Ground”

Night and Day

“Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.  God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.” Genesis 1: 3b-5~

Evening and morning–the first day. That was how God measured days. We flip it around. In our minds, our days begin with dawn and end with sunset.

In that change, we show our preference for daylight. And we show it in other ways as well. Our brightly lit streets are illuminated to a degree far beyond our need to have a well-lit pathway. Our cities glow and flicker as business interests compete for our attention. We are like moths, and like moths, we find artificial light more attractive than natural light. And the more light we have the more we want–as in addiction.

In The End of Night, Paul Bogard takes a secular look at our desire for more and brighter light.

“As our surroundings grow brighter, we grow used to that level of brightness, and so anything dimmer seems extraordinarily dim, even dark. This is exactly what happened as artificial lighting developed through the ages. The once glorious oil lamps became dim and disgusting with the advent of wonderful gas lighting, which then became smelly and awful and unbearably dim the moment we saw electric light. . . . [O]nce our eyes get used to seeing brighter lights, we must have brighter lights.” Continue reading “Night and Day”

AIDS: A Modern Plague on Youth

Every three minutes, a teenage girl acquires AIDS.

That’s 20 every hour, 480 every day, 14,400 every month, and 172,800 every year.

That’s a great deal of innocence lost.

A United Nations (UN) representative calls it a “crisis of health.” It’s that and so much more.

“In most countries, women and girls lack access to information, to services, or even just the power to say no to unsafe sex,” according to the UN spokesperson.

Young women, ages 15 to 19, acquire AIDS at twice the rate male teens do. But acquiring AIDS is no less tragic for young men. They may also lack the power to say no.

The distribution of condoms reduces the rate of AIDS, however, only “under the right conditions.” And those conditions would include not only education but also enough regard for a sex partner to take the step of protection. Still, a condom is never a guarantee.

“Safe sex” is a misnomer. There is no safe sex outside of lifelong monogamy. The price these young people pay? They pay with their lives–for someone else’s moment of pleasure.

Last year, 130,000 youngsters aged 19 and under died from AIDS, while 430,000 — almost 50 every hour — were newly infected, the [UN] agency said.”

The UN proposes to “reach young people and curb the epidemic among them.” But how is that possible when they lack the power to say no?

The solution is not in distributing more condoms and convincing people to use them. It’s in convincing people not to use other people.

And the source of that understanding comes only from the Gospel.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Life Quilt: A Voice for the Future

One generation praises your deeds to the next and proclaims your mighty works. Psalm 145:4. 

They were projects that took me years to complete. And in the end, I wasn’t even the one who completed them. In fact, I wasn’t even the one who started them.

Two old quilts. The first one came from my son-in-law’s grandmother. My daughter wanted her little girl to have a quilt her great-grandmother made and her grandmother (me) restored. I picked another one up in an antique store. Its crafter remains unknown.

So there was one quilt for each granddaughter.

Restoration was my task. To take two old things–no longer pretty–and only one with family significance–and infuse them with beauty, function, and meaning. I began to gather scraps for the girls to carry through their lives and pass along later. Continue reading “Life Quilt: A Voice for the Future”

GBT Minus the L–Pushing Back Against the “Cult of Transgender”

There seems to be little room for disagreement regarding LGBT issues. One agrees with the cause or one is a bigot. Yet within the LGBT movement itself, an argument has actually been ongoing for decades–showing a small, but significant crack in LGBT solidarity.

Last week, eight lesbians demanded to lead the Pride parade in London to protest what they consider a trans invasion of their cause. After blocking the beginning of the parade with their bodies, organizers relented. The women endured the jeers of the crowd along the way but remained steadfast. To advance the trans movement, they say, is anti-lesbian and anti-woman.

They explain: Continue reading “GBT Minus the L–Pushing Back Against the “Cult of Transgender””

Redeeming Horror: Raped and Giving Birth

It was a flashpoint in the argument to legalize abortion–rape. How could anyone be so cruel as to suggest that woman who’s been raped has to carry the child of the rapist to term?

The surprising answer is that abortion is frequently pushed onto these rape victims, and abortion victimizes them further.

We are 45 years from the complete eradication of abortion laws that Roe v Wade and Doe v. Bolton enacted. Surprising is the scant discussion of the compelling subject of abortion because of rape or incest.

Continue reading “Redeeming Horror: Raped and Giving Birth”

Filling Emptiness with Noise

“Without turning on the light he imagined how this room would look. His wife stretched on the bed, uncovered and cold, like a body displayed on the lid of the tomb, her eyes fixed in the ceiling by invisible threads of steel, immovable. And in her ears the little Seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind. ”  From Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

It’s a brand new product presented on the Today Show last week among other products marketed to get us through summer: waterproof earbuds. Now when you go swimming, music or talk, noise of some sort, can follow you, even underwater.

Just think! There’s one more place to escape silence. But why do we work so hard to avoid silence? Why are our own thoughts something to run from?

David DiSalvo in Psychology Today says most of us just can’t stand to be alone without a distraction–technology or other people: Continue reading “Filling Emptiness with Noise”

Brotherhood and Self-Control

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

. . . .

America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

Katherine Lee Bates, “America the Beautiful

It’s a song we learned in school as children–people my age, at least. Brotherhood and self-control–one does not happen without the other.

There is little evidence that Bates’s message has slipped into the hearts of our public discourse today.

Self-control is a necessary component for every patriot. But self-control is only one virtue of a patriot. Continue reading “Brotherhood and Self-Control”

Womb for Rent, Child for Sale

“One egg, one embryo, one adult-normality. . . . From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo, and every embryo into a full-sized adult. Making ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before. Progress.”  Aldous Huxley, Brave New World.

We’ve all heard the wonderful stories. Married couples who were unable to conceive become parents. A generous woman endures the discomforts of pregnancy to give them the ultimate gift. And then we imagine–a happily ever after ending.

And for some, it is a dream come true. Life as they had imagined it would be. It just began a different way.
But that’s not what surrogacy means for many children. Nothing like happily ever after.

Focus on the Family reports: “It is an unregulated industry that takes advantage of the bodies, health and altruistic nature of women for money. The reality is that without regulation, stories about surrogacy and artificial reproduction may become even more bizarre and exploitative.
And such was the tragic beginning for infant twin girls born to an Australian couple. The father had urged his wife to abort a pregnancy early in their marriage. He was not interested in having children. He became interested after he began to assault his young nieces.
His own babies were 27 days old when he began to violate them.  Their abuse lasted seven months. His collection of 13,000 images of child pornography included 300  photos of his own daughters.
There are other horror stories too.

Much of the world is waking up to this abuse. Even though the surrogacy industry is lucrative–$520 million a year in India alone–nations are moving to eradicate it or at least prohibit it to foreigners. With many countries limiting surrogacy, people are looking for surrogate mothers within the United States–where restrictions are few and protections fewer yet.
Surrogacy exploits poor women who are sometimes coerced into participating in the process and may be left with heartache or medical problems. It exploits children, especially since anyone can become a surrogate parent. Even pedophiles.

And while children “can be abused in any setting . . . they are not equally likely to be abused in every setting. By an order of magnitude they are least likely to be abused when living with their two married, biological parents.”
Even when it’s legal, surrogacy is legally messy.
A surrogate mother in California recently sued the “parents” of the triplets she was carrying. The parents wanted her to selectively abort one of the babies. She wanted to adopt the third child herself. But she signed a contract that allows the parents to decide.

Another woman moved to Michigan to give birth to a baby girl whose “parents” wanted to abort her because of her disabilities.
Legalization and regulation would seem to hold only more of such situations.
Medical progress is amazing. But progress isn’t always a step forward. In Huxley’s Brave New World, children were mass produced commodities who filled slots in society. No one loved them. They did not love. They existed only to be used by society and each other.
We haven’t gone as far as Huxley’s world yet. Neither have we drawn a line on when medical progress is human regression.

Perhaps it’s not too late to draw a line. If India and Thailand can stop injustice, so can the rest of us.

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you credit the author.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Continue reading “Womb for Rent, Child for Sale”