Insurance cos. promote abortion to save money, killing disabled babies?

Looks mighty suspicious here.  I speak as a disabled person!

IOTM also to ask who’s more “disabled”: a person with special needs who maybe drives his family and neighbors and teachers and acquaintances crazy … or a world that would rather do without us?

“Suffering”?  I know a little about that subject, though definitely not as much as many of us disabled.  But killing us in the wombs of our mothers denies us even the chance that we’ll struggle and overcome it, or others will cure it or at least lessen our suffering.  Who ever said life was supposed to be free of suffering?

I also speak as an Eastern Orthodox Christian.  In original Christianity suffering has an honored place: it can make us more like our Founder, who suffered a bit Himself.  I don’t mean ‘Suffer like Jesus suffered’ — that’s just masochism.  But Orthodoxy teaches that suffering* may help cure us of our own will and inadequate understanding … and Orthodoxy itself directs us to the Will and Understanding of One Whose Will and Understanding are infinitely perfect.  In fact, many ancient Christians envied the original Holy Martyrs, and found the real and difficult Struggle was ordained for those who lived in the Faith to a ripe old age.  Furthermore, Orthodoxy says that even though we Orthodox with long-term illness/disability might not or ought not, for instance, participate in the Church’s fasting rules and Traditions (i.e., abstaining from certain foods at certain times), God Himself has as it were fitted us with this special ascesis to purify us of sinfulness,** He has allowed this to happen to us.  Some admired, sick Orthodox have taken this teaching so to heart that they have ceased desiring to be cured — again, understanding that it may be easier than the “normal” Orthodox ascetic spiritual path, and blessed by God.  If I may paraphrase St. Raphael of Brooklyn, ‘Man — or demons — may have meant this to me for bad, but God means it for the good.’  Orthodoxy also still teaches that miracles do happen, by the Graciousness of God.

(I don’t say this as someone who has reached such wisdom or dispassion himself yet.  But it does seem most reasonable.)

I also have some expertise in Western Christian ethics or moral theology.

As for calling aborting someone saving his or her life, that reminds me of “destroying the village to save it,” or “killing the Indian to save the man” — real Orwellian, and I don’t say this lightly to a rabbi who survived the Holocaust, even as an infant.  More than 40 million Americans have been electively aborted under color of law, few without the dubious benefit of genetic testing of them or their parents.  Now it’s being sold to us as a large-scale, historic, positive good?

(*–This is ‘redemptive suffering.’  In Peace Studies they talk about some “myth of redemptive violence,” which however I never heard of till then.  Violence does not redeem!  [And real “martyrs” don’t die killing others intentionally, even vengefully!])

(**–Orthodoxy also remembers and teaches that all creatures suffer sinfulness from the first moments of their lives, thanks to the choice of our first parents — what one Western wag once called “Christianity’s only self-evident doctrine.”)

Soda kills

Just in case you missed the new research about diet soda (yes, diet) recently, there’s this.  And diet was supposed to be better than regular!

Think about it: liquid sugar by the gallon, all those bubbles to mess with your gastrointestinal tract and environs, bigger and bigger cups – some now look like mini kegs! – and we expected to get away with it?!!!

Think of soda like candy – it is, after all, liquid candy: a little bit, once in a while.  Otherwise, just “obey your thirst.”

Or … there’s always beer, wine, liquor!

Feed everyone

The Orthodox Herald in December pointed to recent statements by the Popes of Rome – John Paul and Benedict* – that we have a moral obligation to provide food and water – “nutrition and hydration” the doctors call it – to patients in a “vegetative state.”  (I guess if babies in the womb are no longer babies in the womb, food and water is merely “medical treatment”….)

But IOTM that what we have is a moral obligation to provide food and water to EVERYONE unable to provide it for themselves!  Whether they’re paralyzed, sick, poor, unemployed, frail, Disabled, children, drought-stricken, plague-stricken, unlucky or unskilled in agriculture, fulltime parents, mentally ill, retarded, insufficiently intelligent, underpaid, whatever.  We have so much wealth…!  And as St. Basil the Great said, Whatever of it we don’t need belongs to the needy.

How about a little human solidarity, love, sharing, generosity, philanthropy (yes, even in your voting and lobbying and taxpaying … unless you can come up with a better way), “consubstantiality,” God-like-ness (Think about “the liberality** of God“!), self-discipline, etc.?

(*–The O.H.’s readership includes Eastern Catholics [“Uniates”] in communion with Rome, traditionally possessing Orthodoxy theology, liturgy, spirituality, etc. … just not part of The Orthodox Church.)

(**–That’s liberality, not liberalism!)

Fight back, Drive 55.

Almsgiving IS charity

Though our “puritans” of today probably won’t take it from the Pope of Rome!  Not only is it good for the needy and objectively a good idea, but a good spiritual discipine, encouraging detachment from things, and actual “participation in the Divine Life” (as the Good Book says, I think in an Epistle of St. Peter) – which may be why the Lord said, “It is more blest to give than to receive.”  Which is why Rationalized Capitalism and Trickle-down/Voodoo Economics is the exact opposite of Christianity … not to mention very bad for you, eternally speaking!

Almsgiving is the soul of charity!

THIS JUST IN: GW: Canuck theocons to derail Bali?

Sounds really possible.

Diabetes slams non-whites

Excellent Toronto Star series exposes non-white’s hugely greater risk, possible reasons why, and what you might be able to do about it.

We’re driving ourselves to death

Yes, even humor about Orthodoxy!

From OrthodoXCircle’s “Traditional” group – a little mean-spirited actually – not the humor group! (with some editing and rude comments by yours truly):

You Might Be An ‘Orthodox Fundamentalist’ IF…

10) Your parish church-school curriculum consists of: The Rudder.

9) You’ve not shaved in years, but are spending your child’s inheritance on hair conditioner.

{Actually I’ve let my beard go, though not for religious reasons; it’s still quite a mess and often literally a pain!!!}

8) Your church services are longer than the Super Bowl, but shorter than “Roots.”

7) You save toenail clippings in hopes of … well … you know … glorification.

6) Your daughter can play with Barbies as long as they’re wrapped in DuckTape, clothed in black, and referred to as “Barbara the Ballyhoo” (in Slavonic).

{Sorry, I almost got this one….}

5) Your priest wears a cassock all the time. (Mainly because even the “Big & Tall” clothes no longer fit him.)

4) Birkenstock is the only proper name — not ending in “us,” “os,” or “es”– not subject to suspicion.

{What, they’re “CrunchyCons”???}

3) Your favorite theologian’s name is: “Reader __________.”

2) You believe hair brushes, combs, tweezers, and mirrors are for sissies.

{That’s just scary!}

And, the number one sign that you might be an “Orthodox Fundamentalist” is …

1) There are no chairs in your home; you haven’t sat in years!


Top Ten Signs You Might Be an Orthodox Christian Fundaminimalist:

10) During the three-day Sts. Peter & Paul Fast (New Calendar), you did without meat (only).

9) Sunday’s Divine Liturgy lasts longer than the Nightly News but shorter than “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

8) When it comes to Confession, you believe: “All may, some should, none must.”

7) You think Antidoron is for the birds (literally), not to mention the non-Orthodox.

6) You’ve seen your priest vested with cuffs around bare wrists because he’s wearing a short-sleeve shirt underneath his rasson.

{And what did they wear under them in the old days exactly?!!!}

5) You ask questions like, “What’s a cassock?,” and, “Why is she wearing one?”

4) Your bishop eats meat. On Friday. During fasting periods.

3) You’ve seen your priest swimming. In a crowded pool. In a Speedo.

2) Your priest wears a Rolex. At the Altar. Over the cuffs.

And, the number one indication that you might be a fundaminimalist:

1) Your priest’s wife goes by the title, “Reader ______ .”

An Indigenous way to look at a Global Warming and Peak Oil future

Fight Global Warming, Peak Oil, and Obesity: Eat less!

(Those of us who are able, that is.)

Drink less non-human animal milk, too.  (Unless you need what’s in it, like calcium, and can’t find it anywhere else.)

See, factory farming on land – cows, pigs, chickens, etc. – may be America’s Number One source of Greenhouse Gases.  Factory farming in water – many seafoods – is a very bad scene for other reasons: diseases, unhygienic, pollution, etc.  But demand for flesh-foods of all kinds is going through the roof, with big parts of the Third World (China, India, etc.) now ‘coming online’ in that regard.  And many natural fisheries are already in danger of being ‘fished out.’  Hence, we need to eat less of all flesh foods.

But substituting plant foods is problematic because the recent “Green Revolution” was mainly wrought by petro-fertilizers, and they’re going the way of the dinosaurs, so more plants is not an option.  And I think letting GMOs out into the planetary gene pool – eg, to increase crop yields or selected nutrients that way – is way too big a threat without knowing the long-term and even very-long-term consequences; we’ve only got one planet folks!  (For now.)*  And increasing arable land by burning forest adds carbon dioxide and other Greenhouse Gases to the atmosphere, and takes away trees that help remove these gases from the atmosphere.

Hence, eat less of everything if we can.

Obviously people with eating disorders who don’t eat enough, or with malnutrition or simply true hunger (vs. psychologically-induced pseudo-hunger) or certain health problems, or perhaps who are elderly and/or frail, etc., shouldn’t worry about this.  But the rest of us, especially the 2/3 of Americans who are overweight (Canadians and Brits are up there too), could use this for extra motivation, if overeating is a problem.

Also, let’s not stop partying, people!  But is every meal a party? every supper?  Not where I come from!!!

And let’s not cold-turkey it and drive ourselves crazy and set ourselves up for failure.  Perhaps a good program to start with/build up to (in the beginning) is the Orthodox Church’s “fasting” schedule.  (That’s “abstaining,” for you Catholics and High Church Protestants.)  Most Wednesdays and Fridays of the year, the 40 days before Christmas, the 40 days before Holy Week, Holy Week itself, the period between Pentecost and the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (June 29), the first half of August, and a few other “fast” days throughout the year.  (Old Calendar or New Calendar.)  Before I became Orthodox, but was considering it, I was told I shouldn’t try to fast; spiritually it wasn’t a good idea.  But I see no reason why people not currently considering Orthodoxy couldn’t adopt some or all of its fasting practices as a simple eating program.  Like I’ve said, Orthodox “ascesis” may turn out to be a great idea for the whole human race and the earth!  Fortunately or unfortunately, the decentralized structure of the Orthodox Church means there is not in every sense a uniform practice of fasting.  I could point you to websites that might seem to conflict, or in going overboard in describing the strictest forms of the fast may discourage and demoralize.  What you might want to do is consult an Orthodox parish near you; I’m sure they’d be glad to help!

(*–An experimental community should move to a bubble-enclosed island and mess around with GMOs for a few centuries to make sure they’re safe.  I mean it.  Otherwise, we could f— ourselves for good!)

Meat-eating causes Global Warming? (Got milk? That too!)

So said the head of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on TV the other day: factory-farming of livestock is a major cause of greenhouse gases, with them farting and burping and pooping so much.*

(My apologies to that lawyer-kid, although in fairness, what we’re talking about here is not “natural processes,” but the astronomical increase in livestock by humanity in recent centuries, now even in the Third World as it too “modernizes” and eats lots more meat.)

In addition, she pointed out that the fires from burning away forest for pasture and farming to feed the beasts, and in so doing taking away trees that remove carbon dioxide from the air, compound the effect.  And of course, it takes alot more crops to produce meat than to feed humans directly with the crops.

Turns out last November the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO [not Schwarz!!]) reported on this.  The animals’ poor diets are part of the problem, and that can be improved with positive benefit GW-wise, but it sure looks like “prosperity” will outstrip those efforts easily:

“With increased prosperity, people are consuming more meat and dairy products every year, the report notes. Global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tonnes in 1999/2001 to 465 million tonnes in 2050, while milk output is set to climb from 580 to 1043 million tonnes.

The global livestock sector is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector. It provides livelihoods to about 1.3 billion people and contributes about 40 per cent to global agricultural output. For many poor farmers in developing countries livestock are also a source of renewable energy for draft and an essential source of organic fertilizer for their crops.”  [Emphasis added.]

Oh, yeah, dairy products too: milk, butter, cheese, casein, yogurt, (sodium) caseinate, lactose, etc etc etc.

But what’s clear is that once again, we “prosperous” of the world consuming all that meat and dairy, are screwing the whole planet, especially the poorest.  But of course, if we consume less meat and dairy, some real people (Screw corporations!) will get less money and thus be harmed.  Therefore what’s needed is a coordinated campaign to consume less meat and dairy, AND “economic conversion” help for the real people harmed thereby.

Makes me think of an idea from recent(?) Catholic and Orthodox fasting/abstaining practice, like for Lent/the Great Fast: The money you “save” from giving up meat (and for Orthodox, dairy also), you don’t bank, but do something better with – traditionally, give to the poor or charity; how about a more direct connection to the real people who make the stuff?!

It can be done.  I don’t eat alot of meat, and I’ve been lactose-intolerant since my religious-inspired vegan stint in the ’90s.  Many flavored soymilks actually taste better than cow’s milk now, and apparently lots of people are foregoing cheese on their pizzas or Mexican food already because of the fat content, so you won’t stick out as much as you/I did even a few years ago!  They’re even fortifying some soymilks with calcium (and other nutrients it lacks), and there are other sources for calcium too.

As for milk for human babies… and even their daddies**…!  For that matter, apparently it’s even possible for many women to “induce lactation” without a recent pregnancy or birth, so they could donate their milk to interested families, reducing human use of cow’s milk even further.  And doing so is real natural birth control, during lactation and for two months to two years after stopping… sure to appeal to many!

(*–This choice of words will bring the kiddies running!!)

(**–As far as I’ve looked into the “adult nursing relationship” concept – by reading only! – the common idea that the partner has to suckle 6-8 times per day around the clock doesn’t seem necessary, as long as the other times the lactating woman expresses instead [to keep the milk flowing]. ISTM the extra milk can be donated, used in cooking – what about cheesemaking? [After all, “Blessed are the cheesemakers“!] – or simply discarded.  NB: Breast milk does contain lactose, so if you’re lactose-intolerant, you might need to see if you can do something about that. The guys quoted on the first page of this PDF seem to think it’s easy, though their research is ten years old, so if it worked you’d think we’d have heard more about it since then, eh? I’d try it, for nothing else but the sake of my next relationship or marriage, but dairy stinks to me since I went off it, like, even fresh milk smells sour to me – not much motivation there!)

Men’s Fertility Kits

WARNING ADULT CONTENT:

Maybe I don’t get out enough, but I just saw in a drugstore (Do we even call them drugstores anymore?!!!) a home kit for determining if you produce at least 20 million sperm per milliliter (That’s cubic centimeter or “cc,” for those of us who grew up before the metric system!) of semen, considered by someone the “minimum fertility standard.”  (I am not making this up.)  It also includes two non-spermicidal condoms, I guess for guys who consider masturbation wrong or undesirable, so they can catch a semen sample during intercourse.

Honestly, I didn’t know we could count ’em without a microscope!  “One… two… three… 20,000,000….”  Just might’ve cured my insomnia!

Actually, what constructive purpose could be served by knowing?  OK, maybe then you’d know you should adopt.  There’s nothing I know of that can boost sperm count, is there?  (Maybe Mountain Dew! “Obey your thirst!” Actually, this is the exact opposite of the Urban Legend… or maybe we can start a new one! You guys OWE ME!!!)  Or get a sperm donor?: ooh, that’s pretty personal for a would-be father.

Or become a monk… it’s a great way to be saved, I hear, honestly – why not focus on it, eh?

I guess it’s only fair, what with home-based pregnancy kits and all.  Take some of the pressure off the woman: after all, it may not be her fault.  Although as one writer in the NY Times Magazine recently shared with us (link may require free registration), it’s possible to put sperm and ovum right next to each other in a petri dish, and still have nothing happen.  (Like many dates! Whatever that means….)  Apparently Desmond Morris was right: some sperm are dumb and some are dumber… or at least have different jobs.  OR maybe the writer’s husband’s sperm didn’t want to cheat on her.  OR maybe it was God’s Will (I say this in all seriousness).  It’s OK: apparently they eventually managed to conceive the traditional way, ie, with alcoholic lubrication!  (It’s in her book title. OK, actually, it’s not. I imagined it. Though I haven’t read the book, so who knows?)

(NB: By “alcoholic lubrication,” I definitely was NOT recommending using any form of alcohol on one’s genitals, or those of one’s partner.  As Frank McCourt’s first love would tell us had she lived, it’s quite painful.  I was merely humourously referring to the oft-joked-about tendency of intoxication to lead to risky behaviour: “HIGH = HIGH RISK”: risk of AIDS, risk of other sexually-transmitted diseases with or without symptoms, risk of pregnancy, risk of ending-up with someone you don’t want to end up with, etc etc etc.  Remember this.)

Peak Oil in more detail

Someone recently looked at the Peak Oil problem in a little more personal and American detail than I’ve seen before… and it ain’t pretty.  *I* sure don’t know how to farm… and I’m crippled to boot!

Commandments to humanity at Creation?

In the Book of Genesis, God tells humanity to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion.”  Some “Christians” use this as religious cover to dismiss concern about the apparent ability of the planet to sustain many more human beings [or at least, many more First-World human beings!!!], and to destroy the environment.  But it occurs to me that these commands were given before the Fall.  After the Fall, humanity’s chief concern is different: to reunite with God in His Uncreated Energies/Activities.

Traditionally more than a few Orthodox have tried to collaborate with God through monasticism, ie, a lifestyle of NOT multiplying, and of using as little of the earth as possible.  Even practicing Orthodox laity try to include some of this asceticism in their lives, including abstaining from marital relations most Wednesdays and Fridays, during the four Fasting Periods (“lents”) of the year, several other prescribed days each year, any nights before and after receiving Communion… as well as the fast-related dietary self-restrictions during these periods, and in the weeks leading up to the Great Fast (ie, Great Lent, or just Lent, the pre-Pascha/Easter fast).  I believe many of these practices persist among Eastern Catholics, and some of them persisted among Latins (Catholics of Western Rite) before the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, and among many older Latins even afterward – though since the ’60s they have all retained the practices of fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent, and some bishops seem to want to bring back the year-round “fish on Fridays” practice.

Furthermore, a number of Protestant groups embrace what might be called a certain neo-asceticism, such as Amish, Mennonites, some Quakers, some individual liberal mainstream Protestants, and even some “conservative” Protestants, under the rubric of “How ought a Christian to live?”  Some pacifists extend their ethic to “simple living,” or at least advocating it, in the spirit of 1700s New Jersey Quaker John Woolman, who sought to remove from his life anything containing “the seeds of war,” including profiting from slave labor and foreign trade in unnecessary clothing accessories.  (In fact, he predicted the U.S. Civil War.)

As I have reflected previously, greater asceticism may be the lifestyle of the next two thousand years, as we face Global Warming, Peak Oil, and the other coming difficulties – lest we destroy ourselves even before the Lord returns in Glory!  Though as He said, ‘Don’t go around moping, unwashed, in ratty clothes, but smile, clean up, dress adequately’ (more or less!).  For Orthodox, asceticism is the privilege of collaborating with God in this world, and becoming more God-like (NOT “god-like”)!