Sunday, September 14, 2014

Don't Look Away

From The Telegraph

Friends, we forget so quickly. We would rather waste time on the internet, play games on our phones, have political fights on Facebook. 

What is it that's keeping you from saying a prayer, or writing your congressman? What's keeping us from fighting the evil in our own hearts, and from standing up for those who are victims? 

I have been convicted by two things I've read this week. The first is a piece by Samantha at Defeating the Dragons about Ferguson (remember that?). This is a problem in our own backyard, and she exhorts us to make personal changes, to consciously chose justice over racism at every opportunity. 

The second is a piece by Julie at These Walls. She discusses the source of the evil that we see in ISIL, in Ferguson, in Central America, in the Ukraine, and how it infects us in many ways. She reminds us to stop looking away. 

My personal commitment is to use my writing. To write to my congressmen, to write letters to the editor, to write on this blog, to submit a writing to my church's newsletter. I have more time than many of you because I don't have children. It would be a shame to let that time go to waste. 

Please consider what you can do personally, even if it's just thoughts and prayers. Pray that God will show you something you can do (a scary prayer!)

Here is some information on ISIL (very preliminary)

From CNN: a timeline and other quick facts 

From BBC: Why is ISIL so violent? Some facts on its dogma

From Huffpost: a link to 11 free documentaries

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Soundtracks for seasons

One reason I joined the Episcopal church was to participate in a rhythm of faith: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost. It makes sense to worship in a rhythm because we humans do almost everything in rhythms. We celebrate birthdays and the New Year and the Beginning of School and spring because they are new beginnings. We happily set off firecrackers every Fourth of July, carve pumpkins every Halloween, roast turkeys every Thanksgiving, decorate trees and hang up stockings at Christmas. We all need liturgy and rhythm and tradition, no matter our religion. It made sense, though, to recognize this human need at church as well.

In addition to the church year and the secular holiday calendar, I find myself listening to different music cyclically, based on the seasons. Come fall, I always turn on the Cranberries. Don't know why, it's a thing. Today I found Linger stuck in my head, and it occurred to me that it's September, even if Savannah's still hot and humid. 

Fall in general has me nostalgic, and something about the 90s feels cold.  Maybe it was all those denim jackets? There's something particularly aching about the Cranberries that seems autumnal. 

This is one of my favorites. Don't you love the opening scene where she pops the CD in the walkman? 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Abortion and "The Health of the Mother," in scare quotes

I have never been in a crisis pregnancy - or in any pregnancy. For physical reasons it's unlikely to happen any time soon, and I ache for a child. Holding a baby is a spiritual experience these days. Seeing a toddler at the grocery store makes me giddy or depressed, sometimes to be point of sobbing. My friends talk of "the horror" of being saddled with pregnancy, of being "tied down" to a child, and I never know what to say. When my twenty-something co-workers talked about children, it was as if they were discussing a flesh-eating bacteria that must be kept at bay. When I said that I would be happy with "even more than" four children some day, it was as if I had sprouted large antennae.

However, the thought of pregnancy also fills me with dread: I am a woman with severe mental illness, whose equilibrium is largely dependent on medication. This medication is not compatible with pregnancy or breastfeeding. I also think of my childhood. My mom is/was depressed and, though she was never suicidal, it obviously impacted my life in dramatic ways. I worry about the effect on our children. Moreover, my husband already carries the burden of my health and the stress of never knowing when I'll crack again. To put it mildly, getting pregnant right now would be devastating. 

At the same time, I am also fiercely pro-life - the very idea of killing my own baby makes me physically ill. Almost every day something reminds me of the fact that in our country it is legal to kill developing babies, even those capable of feeling pain, even those viable outside the womb. The tragedy of this cannot be overstated: it is our genocide. The weight of slaughtered infants grows every day, and yet there are people I know and love who don't even see the problem.

That's why it fills me with rage when Republican politicians mock the problem of pregnancy and mental health, or when McCain put air quotes around "the health of the mother." The problem, apparently, is that "the health of the mother" can include mental health, and therefore we can't use the health of the mother as an exception to possible abortion bans.

What many people don't realize is that mental illness is fatal if left untreated. Most medications are incompatible with pregnancy, which means that a depressed woman in a crisis pregnancy situation has the rug jerked out from under her in more ways than one. The risk of suicide - of the deaths of BOTH the mother and child - is huge.

Does this mean that I think abortion is the solution? No, I don't. Our culture of death looks to abortion as the quick solution to our ills, and we can do better. Women need mental health care in addition to obstetrics. We need to find alternatives to medicines during pregnancy that don't leave women in the lurch. It's not fair to expect women to chose between themselves and their unborn child.

At the same time, I don't believe in mocking the plight of women in this terrible situation. If you don't care about the health of the mother, then you're not pro-life. Stop pretending to represent us. Start putting your money where your mouth is and actually listen to those who deal with these issues. Listen to those who struggle with suicide, to mothers who put their own lives on the line for their children every day. Get the fuck off your pedestal and stop pretending you have even a clue what you're talking about.