“Swinging from Parents”

I’m feeling particularly tender today…thinking about babies and my empty arms. Thinking about the Chapman’s recent tragic loss, baby girls waiting in Chinese orphanages, how one can never truly understand pregnancy loss unless you have experienced it yourself, and the sweet truth that God knows our hearts so deeply and intimately.

Here in Lincoln we are honored to have Ted Kooser, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and former US Poet Laureate, living amongst us. He had an elementary school named in his honor this spring and read the following poem at the ceremony. I love this poem for many reasons…mostly because I hope that David and I will have a little one swinging from our arms someday.

Swinging from Parents

The child walks between her father and mother, holding their hands.

She makes the shape of the y at the end of infancy,

and lifts her feet the way the y pulls up its feet,

and swings like the v in love, between o and e

who are strong and steady

and as far as she knows

will be there to swing from forever.

Sometimes her father, using his free hand,

points to something and says its name,

the way the arm of the r points into the future at the end of father.

or the r at the end of forever.

It’s that forever the child puts her trust in,

lifting her knees, swinging her feet out over the world.

–Ted Kooser

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Catholics and Choice

Thanks to readers Kathy and Beth for their thoughtful comments on my recent post regarding Christianity and the issue of reproductive choice. I value them both so much because they speak from lives influenced by the Catholic Church.

I want to refer any interested readers to the website for Catholics For Choice. The President of this organization came to Lincoln, NE several years ago to speak at our local Planned Parenthood’s annual dinner. It was an amazing speech and very encouraging for the Catholic women in the audience who have grown increasingly disturbed by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz‘s leadership of the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln.

Christians who are concerned with issues of reproductive choice must be informed about the undeniable and massive amount of influence the Catholic church has worldwide on the issues of reproductive choice, particularly the availability of basic contraception for women around the world who want to control their fertility and family size. As the Catholics for Choice website says: “Catholic or not, the Catholic church’s role in influencing public policy affects YOU through limiting the availability of reproductive health services.”

The influence of the Catholic Church in international affairs is enabled by the status of the Holy See (the government of Vatican City and the Roman Catholic Church) as a “permanent observer” in the United Nations. In 2004, the Holy See gained full membership (albeit non-voting) in the United Nations. This move was unprecedented, since all other religious organizations participate in the United Nations as non-governmental organizations.

Steven Curtis Chapman: A champion of international adoption suffers a huge loss

Steven Curtis Chapman, an amazing Christian musician and champion of international adoption, has suffered the loss of one of his 3 daughters adopted from China. Both the subject of adoption and the nation of China are dear to my heart, and I have followed the stories of the adoption of their 3 girls.

The following is the story from the CMT website. Also, click here if you would like to see a great video of Maria. Please pray for their family as they deal with this incredible loss and let us be thankful to the Lord that Maria was part of the family of Christ.

Steven Curtis Chapman’s Daughter Killed in SUV Accident

The 5-year-old daughter of contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman died after being struck by an SUV in the driveway of the family’s Nashville-area home late Wednesday afternoon (May 21). Maria Sue Chapman was playing in the area with several other children. Her teenaged brother did not see her in the driveway when he struck her with the Toyota Land Cruiser he was driving. A spokesman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol termed it “a terrible accident” and said no charges are expected to be filed. The child was the youngest in the family and one of three daughters adopted by Chapman and wife Mary Beth. The entire family was home at the time of the accident. Steven Curtis Chapman, 45, has won 51 Dove awards from the Gospel Music Association and five Grammys.

Christian and pro choice: Part 2

Further thoughts: 6/15/08

In thinking more about this post, I have been convicted by the Holy Spirit to clarify a couple of things. I want it to be very clear that I do not believe that there is “more than one truth” out there in terms of views on abortion. I realize that the statement, “You have your own definition of human life, I have my own definition of human life…your neighbor has her definition, my sister has her definition, the lady behind you at the grocery store has her definition, and on and on” could definitely be construed as saying that all of these definitions are somehow “true” and valid. There is only one definition of life that is truth and that is God’s definition as presented in his Word. However, reality is such that not all human beings will accept this definition, and that is what I believe cannot and should not be legislated by human governments. I fear that some Christians believe that the Biblical definition of human life must be legislated or somehow it is not valid. Rather, Christians have the responsibility to reach out to society with compassion and conviction to share God’s word and let the truth therein do the transforming work in the hearts and minds of others.

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Thanks to my two friends – R and S – who kindly responded to my last post. Ladies, I appreciate you so much! Let me respond with a few more thoughts:

To R: You answer your own question “Why attempt anything ‘good’ at all if Christ’s return is the only true solution?” in the same way that I would: “Redeeming this fallen earth is what we’re called to do.” The work that I suggest: education, support, and most importantly witnessing for Christ and His saving grace, is all towards that end. However, we may differ in that I do not believe it is the role of the United States government to assist in redeeming this fallen earth. I rely only on God and Christ to do that, realizing that we (ie, Christians) are the hands and feet of the gospel.

You also say: “I’m wondering if you and I disagree on the point of human life rather than the worth of women (because surely we agree on the latter).”  Exactly one of my main points. You have your own definition of human life, I have my own definition of human life (I am quite sure they are the same; cf. Psalm 139), your neighbor has her definition, my sister has her definition, the lady behind you at the grocery store has her definition, and on and on. This is the mark of being a sovereign human being in our democratic nation.  We get to define human life for ourselves based on our faith (or lack thereof) and act accordingly (ie, have as many children as you wish, or don’t). This is a right that can easily be stripped by any human government, namely China. When I spent a month in China in 2003 I talked in very hushed tones with several Chinese women on a train about their own government-enforced abortions. This is the reality of a nation where the notion of human life is dictated by a government. I believe that we must vehemently protect ourselves from government intrusion in the most personal of decisions. (Being a Democrat, I realize this last statement is traditionally a “Republican” point of view. But for some reason, not when it comes to reproductive choice.)

And S responded: “We are called to love women, not the decision.” Amen! For me, part of this love is not insisting that a woman define human life in the same way that I do under the threat of criminal penalty and forcing her to have a child against her will. I want to love her by making sure that she knows that there are options, that adoption is an extraordinarily courageous act, and hopefully if she comes to faith in Christ she will choose to define human life on God’s terms instead of her own. I am so happy to hear that you have amazing stories from your own family’s experience about good things arising out of bad situations! I know that I would be encouraged by those stories, and I hope that someday you might have the opportunity to also share them with a woman in crisis.

Christian and pro choice: yes, it’s true!

I don’t get into this conversation with many of my Christian friends…I wish more of them would be open to the discussion but I have to respect that this is an incredibly emotionally charged issue and friendships can be lost over such things. At the same time, I wish that more Christians could be open to the possibility that one can be Christian and pro choice.

The prompting for this post is learning on a friend’s blog that the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) has endorsed Barack Obama. I’m surprised by this because I thought for sure that their endorsement would go to Hillary. But they see the writing on the wall like I’m thinking Hillary already has.

I worked for Planned Parenthood for many years doing pregnancy testing and counseling. I have referred many women and girls for abortions and some for adoption. I have heard countless stories of how these women and girls ended up with an unplanned pregnancy — some stories I wish I could forget. Stories of incest (on more than one occasion stories of repeated pregnancies from incest), rape, domestic abuse, loneliness, heartache, self-hatred, and fear. Never in all of the years that I worked in an abortion clinic did I meet a woman who casually chose abortion on a whim, as if without thinking or because it was the “easy” thing to do. Never did I meet a woman who was not torn up over her decision. And there it is: her decision. Not mine. Not yours. Not a Senator’s sitting on Capitol Hill. Hers. There in that very small counseling room, looking at that positive pregnancy test, knowing that she was going to make the hardest and worst decision of her whole life. And knowing that she will never be the same again.

I do not advocate or encourage abortion, but I believe that our government must maintain the right to legal and safe abortion for women who want to end a pregnancy. Women must be allowed the right to make this decision between herself and her physician without the interference of any government entity. I believe that reproductive choice is a fundamental human right. Criminalizing abortion will not end abortion. Women will die just as they did before abortion was legalized. My own mother lost a high school friend to a botched back-alley abortion in the 1950’s. Even in the 1990’s I met women who came to our clinic after trying to perform their own abortion by their own crude means. All to save face and avoid having to come to our clinic.

We live in a tragically fallen, sinful world and abortion is part of it. Sex without commitment (ie, marriage) is part of it. Unplanned pregnancy is part of it. Criminalizing abortion will not change these facts. Only the return of Christ and His reign on Earth will change these facts. Until then I believe that we must educate our young women and men (in homes, schools, and churches) about healthy sexual activity and the consequences of sex outside of marriage. We must work diligently to improve the self esteem of teenage girls so they do not seek acceptance through sex. We must provide affordable birth control to women of all races and economic classes. We must provide single women with economic and social support to make parenthood a feasible option. And we must reach the world for Christ so that women will have a foundation and support system to help them choose not to have an abortion.

Please know that I do not take this issue lightly. My husband and I struggle with infertility and the knowledge that we will never have our own biological child. Some days I feel that I would give anything for my own pregnancy and I struggle knowing that there are women out there choosing to end theirs. But my pain does not give me the right to take away another woman’s choice. It is hard and it doesn’t make sense, but God is good and his forgiveness and mercy are unfathomable.

New Survey: 3 Out of 4 American Women Have Disordered Eating

On April 22, 2008 the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill issued the following news release:

Three Out of Four American Women Have Disordered Eating

Sixty-five percent of American women between the ages of 25 and 45 report having disordered eating behaviors, according to the results of a new survey by SELF Magazine in partnership with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

An additional 10 percent of women report symptoms consistent with eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, meaning that a total of 75 percent of all American women endorse some unhealthy thoughts, feelings or behaviors related to food or their bodies.

Check out the True Campaign and how they are working to set women free from this cultural epidemic that leads to chronic dieting, severe depression and self-hatred.

Genesis 1 and the convergence of Biblical and scientific wisdom

Thought-provoking post on Genesis 1 with link to presentation on “Genesis and Cosmology” by Dr. John Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. Check it out:

He is Sufficient

Other suggested reading for those interested in creation theology and science: The Science of God and Genesis and the Big Bang by Gerald L. Schroeder (Israeli physicist trained at MIT). Fascinating reading!