Sunday, August 24, 2008

Braxton's Lear - Anything to Oblige the Ladies

Lest anyone think that Braxton's Lear is only restricted to Anglicans and Episcopalians, I offer the following letter from Mr. Fred Cappuccino, a Unitarian minister and best friends with Canada's most celebrated abortionist and member of the Order of Canada, Henry Morgentaler.
The matter of Henry Morgentaler receiving the Order of Canada has once again been raised, through unsubstantiated attacks against Canada's chief justice.

My wife, Bonnie, and I are the parents of 21 children, 19 of them adopted from a dozen different cultural backgrounds. We are also two Members of the Order of Canada (1996) who fully support this honour for Dr. Morgentaler. We wrote letters nominating him many years ago. He is our valued friend, and more than once was guest speaker on a Sunday morning at Lakeshore Unitarian Church in Quebec while I was minister there (1967-74). He was always well received in that congregation, and still is among Unitarians generally.
Somehow this doesn't surprise me. I said this Braxton's Lear wasn't devoted to an Anglican, but people have been pointing out for years that the differences between the two sects are narrowing and will soon disappear.
I have not always been pro-choice regarding abortion. In the 1960s I was pastor of a Unitarian Church in Silver Spring, Maryland. I attended a national assembly of our denomination where the main issue for discussion was abortion.

My opinion at that time was that abortion was wrong. It was taking a human life -- very simple. The debate on the pro-choice motion was conducted utilizing two microphones, with alternating two-minute speeches. Those in favour lined up behind one microphone; those opposed behind the other.

As the lines formed, I was fascinated and somewhat disturbed to see that the line against the motion (against pro-choice) was mostly men, while the other line was mostly women -- and I knew some of these women.
I'm sure a similar arrangement today would produce a very different result. Where are the hardy, self-confident men who would dare to line up in a group to express an opinion and not immediately start apologizing? Mr. Cappuccino was an early example of the pussification of the liberal male, and was so unnerved to find himself excluded from the Unitarian hen party that he emulated the Swan of Newark and immediately broke down.
Several were wives of ministerial colleagues, and two were ministers themselves. I was hit with a terrible realization: I could not vote against these women! I just sat there and wept, openly sobbing right in my seat. I finally voted with the women, and the motion passed overwhelmingly.

Abortion is never an easy choice. It is abhorrent to use it as a method of birth control. It is always an agonizing decision. But I don't think any man (or group of men) -- be they clergymen or medical doctors or politicians -- should decide for a woman what she must or must not do with her own body.

Bonnie and I both consider Henry Morgentaler to be a man of exceptional integrity, courage and compassion, fully deserving of the Order of Canada.

Fred Cappuccino, Maxville

Minister Emeritus of Lakeshore Unitarian Congregation in Pointe Claire, Quebec, and of the Unitarian Fellowship of Ottawa.


If men can't tell women what to do, I guess they have two choices: a) silence themselves, and b) cease being men.

I think I know which choice Mr. Cappuccino made.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Where's an Israeli desert when you need one?

The famous John Shelby Dong Spong managed to get a major U.S. newspaper to waste some space on his latest roguish musings. He took time out recently to do some slumming - evangelicals hosted a question-and-answer forum at the Saddleback Church in Orange County, CA for the presidential candidates on August 16.

Typically, 4/5ths of his little essay is an attack on the people asking the questions. After his opening titter about how "naive" it all was, he gets down to business.
The questions asked reflected an evangelical world view that is one to which educated people today cannot relate.
I would imagine, then, that the candidates would have been completely at sea as to how to answer them, then, no? As an educated person myself, if someone started asking me questions on a subject I could not relate to, like, say, the efficacy of bleeding to treat cancer, well, I wouldn't really know what to say! I sure couldn't answer the question in a way that the questioner would value, since I don't share his basic premise that 12th-century medical methods are appropriate today, and therefore I haven't wasted my time studying them. But the candidates didn't seem to have any trouble "relating" to the questions - are they not "educated people" either? Even if they were just saying what was needed to win votes, the fact that they could even understand their questioners demonstrates that whatever the reasons people like Spong can't relate to basic Christian assumptions, "education" is not among them.
It did reveal that evangelical Christianity is broadening in its interests to concerns about life after birth and the environment, but part of that is because the old hot button issues of abortion and homosexuality are simply fading in importance.
Oh, ha ha. Evangelicals are now discovering that there is "life after birth", eh? Makes one wonder why they ever bothered coming up with codes of conduct and avoiding temptations, when all that matters is thwarting a woman's desire for an abortion and then losing all interest in her. And homosexuality is not exactly a "pre-natal" issue, or any kind of -natal, come to think of it.
Everyone knows that abortions can be greatly reduced by competent sex education in the public schools and by the wide distribution of safe contraceptive devices.
"Everyone knows" - Malcolm Muggeridge called this 'the ritual introduction of a lie'. Why on earth would Spong want to reduce abortion? What's wrong with it? Has anyone ever heard him state what the problem is with abortion, except for the disapproval of the "uneducated"? (Coincidentally, the same single problem that afflicts homosexuals - they are pure, it's everyone else who misunderstands and misjudges them.) His whole church has deeply invested in the idea that any abortion, anywhere, any time, by any woman, is to be supported, financed, facilitated and approved. What is all this thin-lipped, teeth-gritted determination in favour of? Something ugly, evil, dirty and shameful? Will the radicals lurching drunkenly at the controls of the Episcopal Racket admit that in this case, they've chosen the side of evil? Or is it in favour of something harmless and beneficial (even if it's only the imaginary benefit of women asserting that they're the boss and can do what they want)? If it's the latter, then why would anyone want to "reduce" such behaviour? What's wrong with it?

As for the "competent sex education" that will save the day, could Spong please inform us of when it may be appearing on the horizon? I'm almost 50, and sex education was well-establish and uncontroversial when I learned it in the 70s. Thirty years have gone by, and sex education has continued uninterrupted. Those teaching it now learned it themselves in the schools. Three generations have had unrestricted sex education, but to people like Spong, it's always 1949 - we all have mothers like Carrie's, and we all stumble into our first period ignorant, shocked and traumatized.

Ah, but the "educated" shall inherit the earth. When their taste in sexual perversion changes, the rest of us must follow. That's why "the pejorative definition of homosexuality as either a mental illness (the liberal evangelical position) or a chosen act of moral depravity (the conservative evangelical position) are both dismissed today as incompetent among educated scientists and doctors." It's interesting that he later concedes that "One should not expect politicians to be either competent theologians or biblical scholars," but no such restriction applies to scientists and doctors, at least the "educated" ones. (One wonders what other kind there is, and where you would go to find them.)

Just as Spong's favourite doctors and scientists (i.e, the ones who agree with him) are not barred from opining on theological matters, neither is he hesitant to lecture on the roots of homosexuality, despite no training in science or medicine. But why should he be modest? He sees himself as a worthy sharer in those lofty heights, where what is known to educated men like himself has yet "to trickle down to the masses."

And as a proof of his disdain for modesty at his own level of education, he takes on not only the humble American Evangelical, but also those uneducated rubes in the Vatican, led by the illiterate Benedict XVI. I'm willing to wait for the verdict of History on who ends up most resembling the Flat Earth Society: the Catholic Church, or the all but defunct Episcopal Racket.

Hat tip: Stand Firm
Title ripped off from Kathy Shaidle at Five Feet of Fury

Friday, August 22, 2008

Computer is back

It wasn't so bad having the computer out of commission; I found the break from watching the never-ending disintegration of the Episcopal and Anglican churches rather refreshing, plus I got to read more Chesterton.

On the medical front, I took Emma to the neurologist on Monday, and he diagnosed her as having general epilepsy. Well, we sort of already figured that was the case, so it wasn't really a shock. He says this is the variety that is the easiest to treat, and is not the result of brain damage. She'll be starting medication next week, after she goes for a 4-hour EEG. The previous one did confirm that flashing lights can cause her unusual brain activity, but not much else. This time, she's supposed to be a bit sleep-deprived, so they can get a better look at what's going on. She has two different kinds of attacks, and the worst sort comes at night, with a lot of jerking and loss of muscle control. Apparently, fatigue can bring that on, which may be why we noticed that they seemed to be more frequent on weekends: she would stay up later, since she didn't have to get up for school the next day.

The other kind can come from flashing lights or staring too long at a computer image, and the symptoms are more of a sort of "zoning out" or trance, sometimes with strange mental image flashes that she afterwards can't recall. I thought that computer use might be causing the nighttime attacks, but the doctor said no; if it's related to computer use or flashing lights, it happens right on the spot, not hours later when she's sleeping. So it looks like there are two separate triggers for the epilepsy.

In another medical development, when Emma was in Victoria this summer, my Auntie May fell out of a cherry tree and severely injured her back! She was climbing the tree to pick the cherries, but at 73, that sort of injury can take a long time to recover from. In a perfect picture of the state of our medical care, she went to Emergency in an ambulance, they X-rayed her, saw no broken bones, and sent her home. The next day she couldn't move and was vomiting with the pain. She went back and this time was admitted, and they found she had compression fractures in her spine! She spent 10 days in hospital, but is at home now on Oxycontin. Physiotherapy will be next, but I think she needs to heal a few more weeks before they can start that.

Both Thomas and James had oral surgery this past month, Thomas to take out his wisdom teeth, and James just because that's the only way you can do fillings on him. All in all, it's been a rather unpleasant summer. I hope I don't have another one like it soon.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Success!

The garage sale was a huge success! Thanks to whoever is the patron saint of garage sales, we made over $800, and sold the vast majority of what we'd put out. In the end, there were only 3 boxes of junk and 3 bags of unsold fabric scraps, plus a lamp and a stool, to send to Goodwill. The remaining things were a few lamps, recipe booklets and some old kitchen utensils which we took back into the house. Oh, and although my big 1950s lampshades didn't sell (which surprised me), an hour after the sale had ended, a lady came to the door asking to buy them! She took away 5, and left me with 2 little ones that went right back onto a lamp in James's room.

We tried to keep to a 9:00AM starting time, as advertised, but there were so many people buzzing around by 8:00, we couldn't hold out, so we started selling things early, even as we were rushing to put everything out on the driveway. It was a perfect day for it, too - clear and comfortable temperature, probably the nicest Saturday we've had all summer.

The one thing that did NOT sell, though, was...the 1930s sideboard, which was the whole reason for holding the sale in the first place! Never mind, though; Dean knows someone who is setting up a first household with a wife and new baby, and they have no furniture, so we're going to give it to them.

We can certainly use the money, because to our shock, our disabled children funding has suddenly been cut. Emma turned 18 in May, and the province's computers calculated that now that we have only TWO children who are handicapped instead of 3, our income is high enough not to need any help at all. So we've just lost $800 a month income, which we used for respite care for the boys. Naturally, nothing in our house has changed at all - Emma didn't become neurologically normal when she turned 18, she didn't get a job or leave home to reduce our financial burden, and the other kids are sure just as autistic as they ever were, but the province figures we can cope on our own now. The next year is going to be hard, until Thomas reaches 18 and then moves to "handicapped adult living at home" status and we will have some subsidy for that. Actually, it's been a rather bad summer altogether for us, but at least the garage sale brightened things up a bit.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Clearing debris

I swore I'd never do it again, but I've decided that the house is too cluttered, so we are having...a garage sale. I hate pricing things, setting up a sale, and dickering with people, but it's the only way. I have a little Art Deco sideboard that I want to get rid of - it's really small, but our kitchen is smaller, and the only place I could put it was behind the kitchen table. This meant you had to pull out the table in order to open the doors; as a result, I didn't open it very often. I finally realized that the stuff I was keeping in it wasn't stuff I really needed too much, and pretty as it is, the sideboard is superfluous.

How to get rid of it, though? It's not valuable enough to advertize in the paper, and I can't ship it, so eBay likely wouldn't work. It's either a garage sale, or give it to the Salvation Army. Once I decided that, I figured we might as well use the opportunity to get rid of other stuff, most of it collected at auctions over the years. I have a LOT of lamps and lampshades, and a few months ago I sorted through my old cookbooks and recipe booklets, and came up with a box of duplicates or uninteresting ones. I'm going to go down to the basement and sort through my fabric collection, and take out the stuff that's not useful for quilts, or just not attractive enough to keep, and see if anyone will take it off my hands.

This time we've started early, so hopefully I won't be pricing things at 11:30 PM on Friday night.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Leak in the basement

This morning I detected a leak in the basement! In the furthest corner of the cold cellar, it's clear that water has accumulated there recently. About 4 feet of the wall leading to the corner is damp, and even has drops of water beading on it. This is the place where we've had trouble with the eavestroughs - I wonder if they've spilled over so much, they've saturated the ground right in under them?

Anyway, I went into full hysteria mode as soon as I realized the problem. I was ranting to Dean, "This is it! We're RUINED! This place is going to be a money pit, I just know it! They're going to have to dig up all the foundations, it's going to cost us $20,000, and we'll never be able to pay for it!" He told me sharply "There's no need to panic!" and I answered, "I'm not panicking - I'm despairing!"

We're going to have to call an inspector or an engineer, I don't know just what one does in this situation. I'm hoping it's just this corner where there's a problem, though I think we'll have to have the foundation of the whole house looked at, if we're calling someone in anyway. Maybe some drain tiles and new eavestroughs will take care of the excess water, and it's just a small section of basement wall that needs repairing. Let's hope so, anyway.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Post-op

Thomas was wonderful during and after his trip to the hospital. No crying, no complaining, no fighting - he was just a perfect patient. We have to take extra care of him, because he has a very high pain threshold and never complains, so it's no use waiting for him to ask for pain meds. I just gave it to him on a schedule for the first 2 days, because I knew he must be feeling pain and wouldn't tell me. The most he ever did was lean his swollen cheek against his hand, and once he got a frozen container of spaghetti sauce out of the freezer and held it to his cheek (I replaced that with an icepack).

I thought that he'd be out of commission for the rest of the day after his operation, but he went to the computer and started playing his favourite videos, and even bouncing and dancing to the music! He'd have made a great soldier.

Today I can tell that he's feeling much better - he started fighting with James this morning, for the first time since the wisdom teeth came out.