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Archive for October, 2010

This post originally ran about three years ago.  This year, our house will be launching the following into an unsuspecting world:  Harry Potter, Aphrodite, a cat, the grim reaper, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle,  a Pink Mummy Ghost (this is a costume which started off weird and gets more confusing each year), Ming Ming, and a confused and angry baby.

You can see by the preponderance of trademarked characters that, in the three years since I wrote this piece, my give-a-damn has broken.

Oh, Halloween!

If you are lucky enough to slide unharmed through the Scylla and Charybdis of the Wiccans’ Samhain and decent people’s All Saint’s Day, you will probably be thinking about Halloween costumes for your kids.

I started having kids pretty young, so I went directly from wearing costumes myself to making costumes for my kids. The type of costume changed, of course. When you’re a 19-year-old pseudo intellectual, it seems hilarious to dress up as Aristotle’s Incontinent Man; but for your kids, you really need to reign in the originality. It’s less scarring that way.

The more insane daily life is, the more prone I am to wildly ambitious homemade costume ideas. If I’m pregnant, teaching several kids at home, buying a new house, going to law school, and launching an organic chinchilla farm, that’s when it seems like a good idea to whip up a batch of papier-mache. How hard could it really be to dress any reasonably robust six-year-old as an Elizabethan headless horseman, with false legs, of course, so it looks like he’s really riding on the golden Sphinx part, when he’s actually walking? If I could get a little cooperation around here, I could get something done for a change.

But my goal in these days of relative calm (I’m not pregnant, we’re unpacked and not packing, no one has a new job, and all the pets are dead) is to dress the kids in such a way that it won’t make them cry.

This is not as easy as it sounds, when you have kids who tend to cry when you do exactly what they specifically asked for, several times, with witnesses.

Also working against me is one three-year-old boy who gets angry when he’s having fun. You let him wear a cape and stay up late, and surround him with people who can’t believe how adorable he is, and who want to give him lots of candy . . . and it really rubs him the wrong way.  This is the same kid who steps outside into the golden sunshine, takes a look at the butterflies wafting over the heads of gentle daisies, and yells at the top of his lungs, “IT IS NOT A BOOTIFUL DAY!”

But my biggest handicap is, as usual, myself. I know it’s supposed to be a kids’ holiday, and I genuinely want the little termites to be happy.   But I’m sick. I have a disease which makes it seem important to stay up until dawn getting the tin foil details of Princess Leia’s belt exactly right, even though I know darn well that it’s going to be dark out, and no one without infrared vision could notice any flaw of authenticity, and no one with or without infrared vision would care.

Well, it’s a holiday, and that means it has to be someone’s turn to ruin things — might as well be me. But I’ll tell you the thing I really enjoy about Halloween: at least it’s not a religious holiday — I mean, Halloween as a “boo, eek, Kit-kat and Smartees, oh-how-cute” day, setting aside  the issue of saints and souls and praying and such, which is for a different day.

Halloween is not like Christmas, or Easter, or Thanksgiving — you’re not supposed to be making sure your kids aren’t missing the deeper meaning of it all, and not being too materialistic, and enjoying happy times with your family, while simultaneously performing the back-breaking labor of organizing a pleasant day.

So when I tear around the house with a hot glue gun, insisting that the toddler can make supper for herself because I’m busy, dammit . . . it’s just Halloween! I may be acting like a jerk, but at least it’s not blasphemy.


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I’ve always wondered

. . .what English sounds like to non-English speakers.  Now, I’m not sure I know (I found the repeated use of the word “ciusol” somewhat less than convincing), but I certainly have seen something I’ve never seen before.  And it’s only Wednesday.

(thanks to my little brother Izzy for the link, even though he should be doing his Existentialism homework or something)

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Trick-or-treaters might be coming around with UNICEF donation boxes.  Don’t give ‘em a dime — UNICEF pushes for abortion and sterilization as part of its efforts to improve the lives of women and children.  Beyond the immediate irony of that idea, it’s not even good policy.  According to CatholicCulture.org (emphasis mine):

Pro-family UN watchers are concerned that [UNICEF'S] disproportionate focus on unsafe abortion, based upon questionable maternal mortality figures, detracts from addressing the major health risks to pregnant women in the developing world. Experts say these are severe bleeding, eclampsia, and obstructed labor. By UNFPA’s own admission in a 2004 report, the most important means of reducing maternal mortality is not access to contraceptives and legal abortion but the presence of skilled birth attendants and access to emergency obstetric care.

Imagine:  those backward, third-world women would rather survive childbirth than get help killing their children.  Savages.

Abortion proponents often link unsafe abortion and maternal mortality to push for legal, “safe” abortion. Critics of this argument are quick to point out that in Poland, when abortion was severely restricted in 1993, the country showed a sharp decline in the abortion rate and a decline in maternal deaths. In Ireland, where abortion remains illegal, the country reports one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world. By contrast, while the United States has had abortion on demand since 1973, this year the US reported a rise in maternal deaths.

Oh, and look at this!  I was searching for an image for this post, and turned up this ad:

It’s an ad placed by the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation, and shows an axe hacking into the Star of David.   And looky!  There’s the UNICEF sponsorship logo, down at the bottom left.  (Image source and more information here.)

(Wait, let me save the very vocal minority here a little trouble:  Israel has committed atrocities!  They are the true criminals here!  Ms. Fisher’s blind, jingoistic support of Israel is what’s wrong with the Church and the world in general!  Aieeeeee, boogie boogie boogie, somebody said something about the Jooooooos!

Hokey doke.  Let’s just think about this for a second.  What is UNICEF for, again?  According to their website, it “works for children’s rights, their survival, development and protection.”

You know, with an axe.)

I’m not in favor of burdening young children with more bad news than they need to know.  If mini Buzz Lightyear shows up on your porch with a UNICEF donation box, just say, “No thanks, but here’s your fun size Snickers.”  But if your kid is being pressured by his school to use these collection boxes, you can tell him what I just said to my daughter:  UNICEF does some good things, but they also do a lot of bad things, and we don’t want to help them hurt people.  There are other charities that do a better job of helping poor people, so we give our money to them instead.

Here is our favorite charity, run by the Church with an incredibly low overhead:  Save a Family Plan.  Among other programs, you can choose a plan in which your family sponsors a desperate family in India, helping them to become educated and self-sufficient within a few years.    Boy, they get the job done.  And somehow they manage to do it without killing anyone.

UPDATE:

Sandy, an alert reader, sent the following links to clarify the connection between UNICEF and PYALRA, the organization that ran the ad above.  According to Israel National News,

“In a statement dated March 23, UNICEF president, Caryl M. Stern, denounced the “incorrect use of the UNICEF logo” and stated that “UNICEF was not consulted by PYALARA about the use of its logo in a poster announcing a youth broadcast and it condemns the use of its logo to imply endorsement of political opinions. Neither the poster nor the television program it advertises reflect UNICEF’s policies or its views.” Ms. Stern added that “UNICEF’s partnership agreement with PYALARA ended in January 2010” and that “UNICEF will be carefully reviewing any proposed future partnerships with PYALARA.”

Glad to hear it.  UNICEF still stinks, but at least this time, it turns out I was the one going “Aieee, the Joooos.”  Sorry about that!

Here are a few more links with more information about this story

http://thebulletin.us/articles/2010/03/31/news/world/doc4bafdbe416e47247495742.txt

From the Anti Defamation League:  http://www.adl.org/Internet_Rumors/UNICEF.htm

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Happy

“How about supper in the tub tonight, Hon?”

 

Happy anniversary to us.  Yes, it’s our 13th anniversary today.  We celebrated on Saturday, but I can’t really go into a lot of details because (a) it was so lovely and romantic, any descriptions would totally destroy that “second-rate slob who can’t do anything right” cred, and (b) this is a family blog.  Well, no it’s not, but never mind.  *sigh*  It was a very nice anniversary.  How often can you look back at a choice you made in your early twenties and go, “Yeah, I did that exactly right?”

One way indeed.

And yes, I’m also happy because today is the day I send in my book proposal.

For the book I’m writing.

!!!!!!

I hope they can read the file, despite its being so drenched in blood, sweat, and tears (is that bad for files?).  So that was the big project I mentioned!  I hope to get back to more regular blogging now, and if you’ve nothing better to do, maybe you could offer up a quick prayer that if God wants this book to be written, that He will open the editorial board’s eyes to the splendor that is me and everything I have a hand in; and that if He doesn’t want it to be written, that He suddenly gets really preoccupied with the Israeli peace process or something, and doesn’t notice when the editorial board falls all over itself to offer me the standard rich and famous contract.

Oh, and here’s a note for anyone else thinking of writing a book:  of all the thousands of words I’ve written, rewritten, scrapped, totally rewritten, edited, proofread, and re-re-rewritten so far, you know what the hardest part was?  The cover letter.

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The Search Continues

1,2 button my shoe
pain don’t hurt
don’t sit on god

big fat ladies
moron inside
judy drench
god’s feet with eyes

horshack
horshack
Horshack
horshack

lori petty
Homer Price

have you ever seen such cruelty
“comments closed”
keanu reeves fat

let god decide how many children we have
the movie dont start till i sit down

awesome van
should i be concerned about my son wearing
horshack
turtle joke ah ha

horshack
please dont hurt my arse movies
lori petty
pin drop jerk

horshack

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Consistency – UPDATED

There is an interesting conversation going on at Inside Catholic now, stemming from the “Down Syndrome Couples” post.  I just left a comment which I thought was (like everything else I’ve ever said) pretty important, and something which I did not always realize or internalize.  This is what makes our beloved Church so very different from every other Church, and so durable.

I don’t mean to pile onto Jason Negri — I really don’t.  It’s just that the Church’s teaching on human sexuality is so central to our times (and maybe to all times), and so horribly misunderstood.  Here’s what I said in my comment:

Negri said in one of his comments on his original post on Inside Catholic:

Church pronouncements on moral issues purport to be universally applicable, but are not exceptions sometimes made for extraordinary circumstances (nuns at risk of rape in Africa are using birth control, people with severely limited mental capacity are not held responsible for some deliberate actions, same for children before the age of reason, etc.)? I’m wondering – and honestly wondering – whether an exception might be made for Monica and David whose developmental disabilities might well put them right between the points of able to marry but unable to care for children.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me that the Church does NOT make exceptions. It is incredibly consistent in developing guidelines for specific extraordinary circumstances, without ever departing from the original principle.

The nuns protecting themselves from rape (without risking an abortion) are not violating, or availing themselves of an exception to, the principle that sexual love is to be unitive and procreative — rather, they are protecting themselves from an act which is purely violent. When a mentally disabled person or child is not held morally responsible for hurting someone when he doesn’t know better, it’s not an “exception” to the fifth commandment — it’s just a different act entirely from someone who knows better and hurts someone anyway.

Sterilization of a Down syndrome couple for the purpose of separating sex from children, however, would be an exception. That’s what makes it different from the examples Negri gave, and that’s what makes it wrong.

I just wanted to reiterate that the Church does not “make exceptions” — it is a Rock.

So, come join the conversation.  It’s been a very helpful and eye-opening discussion for me.

EDITED TO ADD:

One commenter, CC, very helpfully posted this:

From the USCCB’s “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services” (http://www.usccb.org/bishops/directives.shtml):

Compassionate and understanding care should be given to a person who is the victim of sexual assault. Health care providers should cooperate with law enforcement officials and offer the person psychological and spiritual support as well as accurate medical information. A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If, after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization. It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum.

It seems to me no different from protecting yourself from someone maniac wielding a baster full of sperm, right?  There is no particular reason you should accept being impregnated in the context of an attack.

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glitch?

Folks, there appears to be a WordPress glitch, and anyone who received the “sterilization” post via email this morning got an earlier, unfinished version of the post.  Please go directly through the blog

http://www.simchafisher.wordpress.com

to see the final version, which represents my point more clearly.  Sorry for any confusion.

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I don’t know Jason Negri personally, and until his post on Friday I’ve had no reason to think that he isn’t a faithful Catholic.  Maybe he was just playing devil’s advocate or being provocative; but for someone who, according to his Inside Catholic profile, is “Assistant Director for the International Task Force on Euthanasia & Assisted Suicide,” he shows a scandalous indifference to the dignity of human life.  Here’s what he said when commenting on a story about the marriage of a high-functioning Down syndrome couple:

My conservative view of child rearing is usually “if you’re not going to take care of your kids, don’t have them”, and for a Catholic, this means don’t have sexual intercourse to begin with.  But it’s hard in cases like these, where a couple is developmentally challenged and might not be able to care for children of their own, but have the need and ability for sexual intimacy.  Forced sterilization?  No.  But voluntary?  Why not?

Voluntary sterilization. . . “Why not?”

Let’s set aside the question of whether or not mentally disabled people ought to be marrying, and let’s focus like a laser on what Negri is implying about the people themselves.  He is implying that, because of their disability, they are not bound and protected by the same principles as the rest of us.

If you can sterilize them, what other assaults on his human dignity might be permissible?  If their bodies aren’t inviolable like the bodies of us Normals, why not keep them as house slaves?  Kind of a win-win situation, by Negri’s logic:  everyone gets taken care of, everyone’s happy according to his capacity, and no one has to shoulder an unfair burden.  Sure, slavery is clearly against Church teaching, but come on — they’re just retards, they don’t really count.

If you are going to start making exceptions to Church teaching based on purely practical terms, then why not voluntary sterilization of the poor, since they need  food stamps or childcare, and “might not be able to care for children on their own”?  Or of people with heart disease, since they might not be around to see their child’s 18th birthday?  Or people with histories of depression?  Or people whose husbands are in the military?  They might need help!  Sterilize ‘em now, before things get messy.

I do not envy the parents of the Down syndrome couple in the original story.  I can imagine how much they want their children to be happy, and how much they fear having to care not only for their disabled children, but an innocent grandchild, too.  But for Negri to suggest an exception to the Church’s law — saying, “Well, maybe in a situation like this, how bad could it be to just bypass the whole fertility problem?” — that’s not compassion.  That’s condescension to a hellish degree.  That’s reducing the human person to biology vs. desire:  Self-sufficiency as the highest good on one hand, personal satisfaction as the highest good on the other hand.

What’s so terrible about that construct?  It leaves out God entirely.  It leaves out the Incarnate God, who has something to tell us about suffering and sacrifice in the service of love.

The Church’s teaching on sterilization is not a prohibition — it’s a protection.  It’s a humble acknowledgment that man is made in the image of God, and you don’t mess with that.

The Church’s law is there to uphold the dignity of human life.  Not attractive human life, not convenient human life, not self-sufficient human life:  every human life.  When we begin to think of mankind as a two-tiered system, in which only the top tier is fully human in God’s sight — then we are on the road to Hell.

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Drip, drip, drip!

In case you haven’t noticed, I am going on a short blogging diet (not a complete fast, though) for a week or so.  Please don’t leave me!  Please be here when I get back!  I just have to finish up a big project, and my poor brain is overloaded.   Every time I drop in something like “remember to pick up milk,” something else, such as “remember to pick up daughter,” leaks out.

So I figured I could free up a little mental space by stiffing you good folks for a while.  It’s not like you pay me, sheesh!  Last time anybody paid me for anything, it was the U.S. Census, and considering how many hours I trained, and considering how quickly I quit once the actual job started, and how much aggravation I caused poor, earnest Keith, the supervisor — well, that was a sheer, unadulterated waste of taxpayer resources.

Hmm, maybe I do kind of owe you something.  If you pay taxes.  Or if you are Keith.

(image source)

Something did happen, though:  I got my 100th subscriber to this blog!  I wanted to send her a present to show my appreciation.  While I was figuring out what to have silkscreened onto the butt of the celebratory pair of pants, though, I lost a subscriber.  Now I only have 99 again.  So there you go.

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Hewwo.

Sorry for the silence.  I’m just very, very busy!  Hope to have something for you tomorrow.

Boy, not even a picture, huh.

 

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