bear - ingn.1 the manner in which one comports oneself; 2 the act, power, or time of bringing forth offspring or fruit; 3 a machine part in which another part turns [a journal ~]; 4pl. comprehension of one's position, environment, or situation; 5 the act of moving while supporting the weight of something [the ~ of the cross].
Viewing the tale of the Lorax through an institutional lens, ruin is not the result of corporate greed, but a lack of institutions. The truffula trees grow in an unowned commons. (The Lorax may speak for the trees, but he does not own them.) The Once-ler has no incentive to conserve the truffula trees for, as he notes to himself, if he doesn't cut them down someone else will. He's responding to the incentives created by a lack of property rights in the trees, and the inevitable tragedy results.
I agree with one commenter that this makes me happier about reading The Lorax to my kids, mainly because the economic moral is much more nuanced than the famous, scraping-the-surface environmental one.
My five-year-old unofficially begins kindergarten at home this fall. Unofficially, that is, because the State of Minnesota doesn't require us to register him as a homeschooled child until age seven, the beginning of the compulsory-education age range. So we're still under the radar. But he will be "official" in my own mind because, had Mark and I not had that fateful conversation sitting at the playground together when that five-year-old was about one and a half, I'd be psyching myself up right now to put him all alone on the big yellow school bus.
But we did have that conversation (the one that started with Mark saying morosely to me, "We're going to homeschool, aren't we." and me responding equally morosely, "Yes. I guess we are.") and he's not getting on the big yellow bus with the other small children and trundling away to the local public school. Nor is he getting dropped off from one of a line of minivans at the little parish grammar school, just in time for morning Mass.
Instead, we're getting on the city bus (sometimes only metaphorically), paying the fare and riding with a whole pile of other people, usually interesting grown-up people, all over town.
Technically, we've been doing "school" since January. He seemed ready and interested to start doing some math, and I wanted to get used to the idea of sitting down regularly with him to do work. Back then it seemed impossible that I could ever develop the self-discipline to sit and work with him every single day, or even three days a week. But with the help of a very well-organized and scripted math curriculum, I got used to it.
After a while I was able to add some reading instruction and then, after I got used to doing that, instruction in the Faith to the schedule. And that's what Kindergarten will be for him. Faith; math; reading, in that order, four days a week, all completed in about one hour at the table together.
Wednesdays, instead of those core subjects, we have lesson day: I take the children to their music class (a mixed-age, simple singing and rhythm class; some other time maybe we'll start actual music lessons). In the evening he has swimming lessons at the YMCA up the street. That's P.E.
I'm going to shoot for doing a shorter "lesson time" on Fridays, to allow room for things like art projects (which don't interest my little boy very much right now); and after a while I'll set a weekly goal for reading to the kids, hoping that through informal reading I can set the stage for studying history, science, and literature beginning in the first-grade year.
At some point, of course, my family is going to start asking me about when he's going to start kindergarten. And then I will have to admit what I'm up to.
My mother, a kindergarten teacher, would have taken the news pretty personally, I think. She expressed disdain for homeschoolers on several occasions that I can remember (notably that they allowed their children to play outside during school hours, which just showed that they weren't actually doing any teaching). I like to think that eventually she would have come around to my point of view, in part because devoting myself to teaching young children would, for once, have given us something in common.
She didn't actually like her job much, though. That would have been a big difference. (Although she loved the people she worked with, she wished she didn't have to work to make the house payment, thanks to my father's skipping out after she'd stayed home eight years to raise my brother and me,)
Anyway. Mom died of cancer two years ago this month. So I never got around to telling her my plans, and we never got to have that horrible, awful, knock-down-drag-out argument.
Fathers and mothers have different roles, absolutely. I think that one of the earliest steps to the confusion of these roles was that mothers voluntarily gave up their God-given gift of breastfeeding.
Anyone (male, female, adult child, relative or total stranger) can give a baby a bottle. Bottle feeding was the earliest stage of the scientification of motherhood. Mothers no longed learned their craft from other mothers, and eventually came to rely upon 'scientific' methods for everything from infant feeding to toilet training and a whole lot more.
The care of the infant and the child was there upon turned over to others besides the mother, leaving her to be simply a servant to the chores of the household. Her unique role was lost.
I agree. I have often thought that the widespread abandonment of maternal breastfeeding (whether to wet nurses or to bottles) was perhaps the first link forged in the long chain of degradation of respect for human life.
I say "widespread" as a caveat: wet-nurses and bottles have always been valuable and even lifesaving fall-back options for babies in specially unfortunate circumstances. The problem has always been the move to acceptance of these emergency measures as equivalent, or even preferable, options. That's a pattern we see in a lot of other areas, too.
Here's the most obvious connection in my mind: Breastfeeding is the sole natural birth control in the human population, inherent in the very bodies of human beings. It requires no technology, no specialized techniques or even folklore, no modification of behavior from even the purely animal.
There is some debate about whether in early human societies lactational amenorrhea tended to put between babies about two years (a spacing that would be appropriate to a fixed-in-place agricultural existance) or about four years (a spacing that would be appropriate to a nomadic existence), but there's no question that breastfeeding suppressed ovulation to a degree we hardly ever see today.
Disrupt the complex dance that is breastfeedingof on-cue and constant mother-baby-togetherness, and suddenly it becomes widely possible for a woman to give birth to two babies within a year. In the face of this horrifyingly dangerous (in an era of high child mortality) and unnatural situation, it's no wonder that women in industrializing societies felt the need to resort to all kinds of contraceptive techniques, some of them worse than useless---dangerous.
There's the first link. Paul VI foresaw many of the rest.
...[H]ow easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law.
Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.
Finally...Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone.
Regina Nicolosi of Red Wing, Minn., is a wife, a mother and a grandmother.
And now she's a Roman Catholic deacon. At least she believes herself to be.
Risking excommunication from the church and other scrutiny, Nicolosi unofficially was ordained Monday in Canada.
Nicolosi, 63, was one of nine women who went through an unauthorized ceremony to become either a Roman Catholic priest or deacon during a boat tour on the St. Lawrence River near Gananoque, south of Ottawa.
(I give the Star Tribune some credit for pointing out that Nicolosi's "ordination" is, in fact, unauthorized. Reuters, for example, only recently issued a correction pointing this out; prior to that they described the women as simply "ordained.")
One of the things that struck me, though, is that Nicolosi hasn't limited her activism to pressuring the Church to accept women as deacons. Not only this, but she apparently thinks that deacons should be permitted to celebrate Mass:
She has said she expects to hold mass in her house and keep attending services at St. Joesph Catholic Church in Red Wing.
Why does she call herself a deacon instead of a priest if she wants to "hold mass?" Deacons are tasked with "assist[ing] the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity" (CCC 1570). They don't "hold mass"---ever.
Her husband, an honest-to-you-know-whom actual real deacon, should know that, no?
Maybe she decided to be a deacon because she's married, and deep down she holds the strong belief that married women should not become priests. No, they should only act like them.
Incidentally, I wonder (a) where is her own pastor, the leader of St. Joseph's in Red Wing? Has he gone into hiding? (b) Can her husband actually continue to serve as deacon at St. Joseph's while supporting his wife in this folly?
Yesterday my kids and I spent all day with H. and her three children, ages five years, three years, and seven months. "All day" means we leave for H.'s house just after breakfast, ideally by eight-thirty, and return home at four-thirty. It is a regular work day. We repeat it every Thursday.
H.'s three-year-old makes coffee for us (yes, really! He's very proud of himself), and we have a cup while we catch up on the news of the last few days and unload her dishwasher. Then we clear the table and set up homeschooling. We each work with our own oldest son at the same table until they've finished their day's work. That takes an hour or so (yesterday longer than usual). They run off outside, and we make lunch.
Yesterday H. struggled some with her five (nearly six)-year-old---he's been resisting the work lately, and I could tell she was very frustrated. So my son was done first, and I made the lunch myself while she took deep cleansing breaths, or something like that.
"LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU MOM" ENCHILADAS
Open 1 can of enchilada sauce. Tear up some corn tortillas. Open and drain 1 can of kidney beans. Open 1 bag of shredded cheese. Layer corn tortilla shreds, kidney beans, shredded cheese, and enchilada sauce in dish. Beat 4 eggs and pour over layers. Add more layers of tortillas, beans, cheese, and sauce. Top with extra cheese. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve with one can of corn dumped in a bowl with a spoon stuck in it.
After lunch we did some work around H.'s house, alternating among cycling the dishwasher, clearing the counters, and sitting on the back porch picking leaves of lamb's-quarter from the stem, adding it to a pot for their dinner. The children squirted each other with the garden hose, and H.'s baby girl played with blades of grass at our feet.
We sat in the pleasant summer shade and discussed H.'s troubles getting the oldest to pay attention to his schoolwork. She was most bothered by her own reactions to these sessions. Getting angry, making veiled threats of punishments, and other reactive measures seemed not to "be working" and, more importantly, weren't how she wanted to hear herself speaking to him. We hashed out a few strategies to try. For instance, getting the younger two settled in advance so she could minimize distractions; making up a checklist that he could see and understand while they worked through each of the tasks she had planned for the day.
By the time we finished working through this topic, all the greens were in the pot. We came back in and I cleaned the kitchen some more while she did some paperwork. The children followed us in, and the 2-, the 3-, the 5-, and the nearly-6-year-old developed an intense and very serious game of "doctor/nurse/patient" that went on quietly for more than an hour. Around three-thirty they fixed themselves a snack of cheese. Then I helped them pick up some of the detritus from their living room game while H. finished up her work. We left around four.
I do this twice a week, every week, with H.'s family and with two other families. (Not that every week I'm solving H.'s problems. It goes both ways)
I'm lucky. I'm not isolated in my house with only my own children for company. But this isn't entirely by chance---it's partly by choice and by effort. And it could be like this for other women at home, if they are willing to look around and take the risk of making permanent connections with others like them and not-so-like them.
"It works -- 100% of the time," said Dr. DeCherney. Side effects are mainly minor - such things as mood changes, fluid retention, acne, and spot bleeding. And the only major risk is death from cardiovascular causes, such as thromboembolism, which are rare.
Much the same can be said about all of the other methods. They work more or less well, and they're more or less safe. The condom and diaphragm, for instance, work pretty much 100% of the time - as long as they're used - and have few, if any, side effects, said Dr. DeCherney.
He must mean "as long as they're used perfectly." Typical user effectiveness of oral contraceptives is only 95 percent (Pearl index). The typical user effectiveness of condoms---that's averaged over all users---has varied in studies. It ranges from 95% to 80%. Diaphragms? 96% to 80%.
For every twenty Pill users in a given population, one gets pregnant within a year of use.
For every twenty condom users in a given population, one to four get pregnant within a year.
Four every twenty-five diaphragm users in a given population, one to five get pregnant within a year.
So when writing a website aimed at doctors who treat the general population, you should insist that all three of these birth control methods are either 100% effective or "pretty much" 100% effective?
Somebody's been dipping into the free pharm samples again.
Earlier I posted about the Vatican's recent statement regarding the liceity of using vaccines derived, ultimately, as a fruit of one or more abortions:
The document concludes that is our right to abstain from these vaccines if we can, but we may, licitly, temporarily have recourse to them in the face of "the danger of favouring the spread of the pathological agent."
So if there is no alternative, in the face of risk, it is permitted to use the vaccine, which is a passive material cooperation with evil.
But it must not be just ANY risk that allows us to cooperate with evil. It must be a PROPORTIONATE risk.
What is the proportionate risk that would allow us to cooperate with the evil of abortion by providing a market for vaccines developed as a fruit of abortion?
My children are breastfed, do not go to school or day care, and are generally healthy. They are at low risk of contracting most of the illnesses that vaccination prevents and, I might add, are at low risk of spreading them because they are not in contact with large numbers of other children on a daily basis.
Perhaps this is only so because so many others are vaccinated. I appreciate that. It complicates the moral calculus, though, or at least it renders it distinctly nonlinear. If the risk is low, there is less justification to use the vaccines because the risk is perhaps not proportionate. But if fewer people use the vaccines, there will be more risk and the risk level may rise to the point where it becomes proportionate.
Also, recall that avoiding vaccination does not guarantee catching the disease, nor does becoming vaccinated guarantee avoiding it. The choice not to vaccinate is really the choice to take a somewhat greater risk of catching the disease (and to avoid entirely any risk from the vaccine itself)---the risk whose "proportionateness" we are evaluating is the difference between the risk of the two choices. If the disease is not likely to be maiming or fatal, perhaps avoiding that danger is not actually important enough to warrant the remote cooperation with evil.
Rubella is a tricky example. The one receiving the vaccintion is not the one who gets the benefit. The population is vaccinated in order to lessen the risk of wild rubella to unborn babies of pregnant women whose immunity may have worn off. But I suggest that we don't have a moral obligation to vaccinate. The natural state of the human being is unvaccinated; if there were no rubella shot, we would not consider it a sin to allow our apparently healthy young children to be in contact with pregnant women. (Sick ones are a different story of course.) The pregnant woman has to bear the responsibility of avoiding rubella, ultimately.
The line between a risk that is insufficiently high to justify cooperation with this evil, and a risk that is sufficiently high, is difficult to draw and quite subjective. Here is how I would draw it for a "generic" disease (bearing in mind that different diseases carry different risks):
- If I had no choice but to place my child in day care, I would consider the risk of epidemic high enough to justify vaccinating my child for the common good of the other children in the day care.
- If my young daughter reached puberty and a rubella titre test showed she had no immunity to rubella, I would consider it justified to vaccinate her for rubella to protect any unborn child she might conceive in the future. (Why puberty? Is that permission to have sex so she can get pregnant? No, it's because when she gets older I can't *make* her get vaccinated, and there is a small but present risk of rape.) After all, catching rubella in the wild as a young person develops immunity without any moral problems at all---and that makes it a viable "alternative to the vaccine."
- I would consider it justified to vaccinate either daughters or sons at puberty for any serious sexually transmitted disease for which there might exist a vaccine that is a fruit of abortion. Again, this is because when they are older I cannot make them get vaccinated, any more than I can make them not have premarital sex when they are adults, and there is a small but present risk of rape. (Whether this is well- or ill-advised as a matter of parental prudence is another argument---I'm writing here about the proportionate risk).
- If I had a child with a known compromised immune system, or some other condition that made the risk of serious complications from the disease highly likely, I would consider the risk justified enough to vaccinate that child and probably the rest of the family.
- If my child was known to have been exposed to a disease and a vaccination could prevent it from developing, I would consider the risk high enough to justify the cooperation with abortion.
But in the absence of these circumstances, it seems hard to justify the cooperation with abortion by providing a market for the vaccines.
In this post I mentioned that I'm trying to implement a Rule of Life for myself. It's an idea originating with Catholic author Holly Pierlot, who incidentally has a blog worth checking out---but it doesn't replace reading her book.
The book provides an algorithm; by following it and considering your own particular constraints, you design a form of self-discipline that is workable for you, based on the natural rhythms of your day. I found the probing of my time, constraints, and responsibilities was satisfyingly analytical. It was also fun to the process of "tweaking" the resulting Rule, or debugging it you might say, over the course of several weeks, until I found that it required some self-discipline to follow its loose schedule but was still easy enough that I didn't get discourage. Also, it was nice to build some rewards into the system. I set up my Rule such that if I'm efficient, I am automatically rewarded with extra free time that I get to spend on myself.
The first step: Consider your obligations in each of the roles of your life as a mother. In order of priority, the roles are conveniently organized as the "five p's:"
prayer - God, or spirituality, comes first.
person - Your next obligation is to ensure that you are healthy, nourished, refreshed, and fit enough to fulfill the rest of your roles.
partner - The primary human relationship in your life is with your spouse, and the nurturing of that relationship takes highest priority.
parent - The next obligation is towards the care and education of the whole person of each of your children.
provider - Finally, you have obligations concerning the physical upkeep of the family, which may be work at an outside job to bring in money, or it may be the work necessary to maintain the home.
The priority ranking doesn't reflect the amount of time spent fulfilling each set of obligations; rather, it's a reminder of the order in which you should make time for each of them. Make sure that prayer (however you understand it) gets onto your daily calendar before anything else does, even if the time devoted to it is only five minutes a day. Once you've made time for prayer, make sure that you do what needs to be done to keep yourself healthy, energetic, and sane, whatever that is. And so on, and so on.
Not long after reading this book, I heard a Sunday homily in which our pastor named these exact five priorities, in the precise order above, and recommended the practice of developing a Rule of Life. It seems unlikely that he read Pierlot's book---maybe they each got them from the same source!
I will add more about the development of my rule in a later post, in which I'll discuss the concept of "lowering my standards."
The hot new trend everyone's been talking about in the Catholic blogosphere, of course, is this sort of thing:
Nine Roman Catholic women have been unofficially ordained as priests and deacons in North America, risking excommunication by the Vatican.
The ceremony took place aboard a tour boat near Canada's capital, Ottawa.
The women - seven Americans, a Canadian and a German - were ordained by three female bishops, who were also unofficially anointed in 2003.
Four of the nine women were ordained as priests and five as deacons aboard the Thousand Islander III boat that sailed on St Lawrence River.
I'm not sure I understand the point of these always being on boats, but there you go.
Here's what I'd like to ask each of the women involved (honestly, I'd like to know the answer):
"So, do you believe that the most important gift you've received by going through this ceremony is the ability, by the power of God working through you, to transform bread and wine into the real and present flesh and blood of Jesus Christ?"