A Matter of Intent

For some excellent commentary President Obama's commencement address at Notre Dame, see Anthony Esolen's post over at Mere Comments, available at http://merecomments.typepad.com/merecomments/2009/05/notre-madame-et-le-president.html

A brief excerpt:

Except in the case of rape, there are no "unintended pregnancies," none. There are plenty of women who do not want to be pregnant, and plenty of men who do not want them to be pregnant, but in all those cases the pregnancies are the results of intentional actions of a sort that have pregnancy as their perfectly natural and perfectly predictable consequence. Contraception does not change the nature of the act itself; indeed, it makes the actors more keenly aware that what they are doing is the sort of thing that makes babies, since otherwise they would not go so far out of their way (donning or inserting into the body uncomfortable devices, or flooding the system with pregnancy-mimicking hormones) to thwart the body's natural functions. The "problem" in the case of Sexual Roulette is not that the body fails, but that it succeeds.

So the pregnancies are the result of intention. The problem is that the children are not wanted, and that is a very different thing. For the question we should immediately ask is not, "How do we dispose of this child we do not want?" but "What is wrong with us that we do not want this child?"

* * *

What we need, of course, is not to reduce "unintended pregnancies," but to grant children what we owe them, which is, at the minimum, a married mother and father. We want, in other words, to reduce unwed motherhood, not by killing the children, but by persuading people to get married before they start acting as if they were married.


CDC urges vigilance for pregnant women with flu symptoms

In its surveillance of the novel influenza outbreak, the CDC has been gathering information on infections in pregnant women. As of May 10, 20 cases have been reported, including 15 confirmed and 5 probable cases. The CDC published its findings on the three cases in a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Dispatch.

Anne Schuchat, MD, interim deputy director CDC's science and public health program, said at a media briefing today that the CDC is singling out the cases to remind healthcare providers and the public that pregnant women are at higher risk for flu complications such as pneumonia and dehydration and that the agency is seeing some severe complications in pregnant women who have novel H1N1 infections.

"We want to get the word out about prompt antiviral treatment," she said.

Story from CIDRAP here.

Full CDC report here.

Population, Economy, and God

For an excellent article on the relationship between wealth, belief in God and fertility, see "Population, Economy, and God," by Tom Bethell, published by The American Spectator and available at http://spectator.org/archives/2009/05/12/population-economy-and-god

A brief excerpt will give you a hint of the author's premise:

A rise in prosperity also encourages people to think that they can dispense with God. Religion diminishes when wealth increases—that’s my theory. But with a twist that I shall come to. Wealth generates independence, including independence from God, or (if you will) Providence. God is gradually forgotten, then assumed not to exist. This will tend to drive childbearing down even further. Hedonism will become predominant. Remember, Jesus warned that it’s the rich, not the poor, who are at spiritual hazard.

* * *

I could summarize the argument with this overstatement: The intelligentsia stopped believing in God in the 19th century. In the 20th it tried to build a new society, man without God. It failed. Then came a new twist. Man stopped believing in himself. He saw himself as a mere polluter—a blot on the landscape. Theologians tell us that creatures cannot exist without the support of God. A corollary may be that societies cannot long endure without being sustained by a belief in God.


On Obama in South Bend

Because it touches upon the concerns of this blog, some of you may be interested in my recent post on reactions to Obama in South Bend, in anticipation of his coming to speak at the University of Notre Dame.


Changing the World One "I do" at a Time

Here are links to two good blog posts on why we are losing the battles in our culture. All the politicking in the world can't make up for our failures to simply be obedient. Indeed, I have come to believe that all the politicking is a desperate attempt to find some solution other than obedience.

Let Gays Have Marriage; We’re Not Using It - updated, available at http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2009/04/22/let-gays-have-marriage-were-not-using-it/, where we read, in part:

If you put something out with the trash, the police can search it without a warrant. Anyone walking by can take it. Although it’s still on your property, it’s not really yours anymore; you’ve relinquished your claim to it. And that’s exactly what we’ve done with marriage. We might as well let gays have it. We’re not using it.

There are four elements of the marriage crisis:

* Marriage: The marriage rate has plunged 50% since 1970. If the same percentage of couples were marrying now as in 1970, there would be a million more marriages a year – 3.3 million marriages, not 2.2 million. Those who have never-married aged 30-44 have tripled from 6.8% in 1970 to 20.4% in 2005.

* Divorce: Half of all new marriages end in divorce. There have been 42 million divorces since 1970 hurting 40 million children. One quarter of all adults age 18-35 have grown up in divorced families.

* Cohabitation: The number of unmarried couples living together soared 12-fold from 430,000 in 1960 to 5.4 million in 2005. There are only 2.2 million marriages a year. Thus, cohabitation has become the dominant way male-female unions are formed. Couples who marry after living together are 50% more likely to divorce than those who did not.

* Unwed births: Out-of wedlock births jumped from 5.3% to 37.4% or from 224,000 to 1.5 million children from 1960-2004. Cohabiting couples are as likely to have a child under 18 as married couples (41% vs. 46%).

And for my fellow Christian conservatives: we haven’t got a moral leg to stand on. Our divorce rate is identical to the national average. We allow our churches to be used as elaborate stage sets for bridezilla productions, often with just pro forma premarital counseling or sometimes none at all. When our fellow church members get divorced, we do not counsel them adequately. We fail to create a culture of marriage in our youth and twenty-somethings. We have shown massive disrespect for marriage. When we demand others respect it, it’s not surprising that we’re not taken seriously.

‘Forbidding to Marry’ (Reply to Laura), available at http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2009/04/22/forbidding-to-marry-reply-to-laura/, where he responds to the first post, in part, with the following observations:

Christians believe that marriage is an institution ordained by God, and every marriage is thus blessed. However, in ordaining marriage, God commanded man to “be fruitful and multiply.” This commandment has never been repealed or amended, no matter what any Malthusian population-control fanatic tries to tell you. One trend that has undermined marriage has been the rise of the Contraceptive Culture, which celebrates sterility as the norm and views fertility as a pathology requiring medical prevention.

How many Christians have embraced this false — dare I say, evil — worldview? How many young Christian married couples use contraception because “we can’t afford children now”? And how many married Christian couples have unwittingly subscribed to the Zero Population Growth ideal of exactly two children per couple? Did you know that surgical sterilization (tubal ligation) is the No. 1 form of birth control for American women? It’s the “two and tie ‘em” mentality: Have exactly two children, then get yourself surgically sterilized.

* * *

In this, many “Christian conservatives” seem entirely comfortable with being “conformed to this world,” slavishly following the secular trend. What one confronts is an attitude I call “middle classism”: The belief that the object of life is to accrue the symbols of middle-class status (college education, office job, new cars, home in the suburbs, vacation travel) and to ensure that one’s children accumulate the same symbols.

Life without these symbols is deemed unworthy — “underprivileged” — and many parents who consider themselves Christian conservatives strongly caution their children against early marriage and early parenthood, since these are perceived as obstacles to obtaining middle-classness. If a 19-year-old returns from her freshman year at college to announce that she is a lesbian, her Christian conservative parents may not approve, but they will still love and cherish their child. Let the same 19-year-old announce that she’s marrying her boyfriend and dropping out of school to start a family, and this would drive her Christian conservative parents to the verge of suicidal grief: “You’re ruining your life!”

* * *

If young Christian conservatives want to be “pro-family,” then, they need to be getting married and having babies. And what a youth rebellion that would be, huh? “No, mother, I’ve decided against law school. As a matter of fact, Jennifer and I went to the courthouse and got married last Saturday and . . .” Strange to say that the most shocking thing a young person can do in 2009 is to get married. They can change the world one “I do” at a time.