12 October 2007

Nobel, what?

Except for the fact that Al Gore's latest prize is surely putting a damper on my mother's European cruise (watch out! says Mr. Tony) I have had more interest in Doris Lessing's too-long expected Nobel win than in any other Nobel-related news in any recent memory. Here's one reason:

And here's another:

But I haven't even read any Lessing! Must remedy that.

09 October 2007

Please adopt.

This afternoon, I had a meeting at school to discuss how we faculty types might help our FYE students do better research and ask more interesting research questions. When I came home, Gram and Noel were hanging out in his room, investigating the window and carpet fuzz and exciting things like that. I should have kept that going.

Instead, when Gram left, I absentmindedly turned on the television and heard Alexis Stewart (Martha's daughter) lamenting her 42-year-old infertility and gladly confessing to Oprah that she spends $28,000 every month feeding her idol of pregnancy.

My heart sank. It sinks again every time I think it. That's about as much as an international adoption costs, and she's been spending it every month for almost two years now. With the money Alexis Stewart has spent trying to make a mini-me, she could have adopted 44 American children.

Do billionaires have more right to children that look like them and act like them? They certainly have more ability to ensure that product. But the poor middle class suffers most from this idol, it seems; Oprah also featured a couple who has taken out second mortgages on their homes to accommodate their IVF bills, and another couple who traveled to India for a foreign surrogate mother because it cost less than half of an American surrogate. (Notably, again, the latter couple could have adopted an Indian child for the same cost as their surrogate experience.)

I shudder at the financial implications, for it seems unethical to spend money in this way. Infertility has become a multi-billion dollar industry while children yet live in orphanages all over the world.

Thankfully, current discussion on Oprah.com's discussion boards (which I only had time to momentarily skim) mentions the need for balance and some responders cry out for adoption. More, though, praise the information, glad to have company in the infertility wars.

God help us to not idolize our wombs. I am reminded of my own son, who stands (literally) at the precipice of walking and makes us marvel and rejoice every day. But I am also reminded of women I know who have recently carried their babies to full term, but not to life. And I am reminded, again, of the 200+ children conceived as a result of sexual assault, finding love and comfort now in a daycare in Congo.

Please, let us practice hospitality. Will the childless not welcome the motherless and fatherless into their homes? Let us welcome them all the more for having entered our families through a strange providence rather than a medical phenomenon.

08 October 2007

Hardly imaginable

As noted on the Think Christian blog, this is no easy read, but I commend it to you with all sobriety and caution (for it conveys some rather disturbing details): today's New York Times article "Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War" should give us all pause as we consider the plight of humans across the globe.

The article features the work of Dr. Denis Mukwegeat the Panzi Hospital of Bukavu, a tremendous place. Their website notes that they counsel women and their husbands, when applicable, toward real forgiveness of their aggressors and perseverance together. The hospital also hosts a daycare for children conceived from sexual violence, counting more than 200 such children in their care between 2003 and mid-2006.

It remains unthinkable to me that such atrocity would happen anywhere, on my street or in the wilderness, and yet this story suggests that violence toward women has become the norm in Congo. And this points us to at least three tragedies.

First, the obvious tragedy that women would be so violated, physically assaulted because they are regarded as chattel, economic means to a political end, mentally and emotionally and physically annihilated by men who have lost any semblance of control or real humanity.

So we see the second tragedy: that these men would become so inhuman that they would perpetrate such acts, and in widespread manner. They not only do evil but approve of others who do so, and help commit the crimes against other humans, perhaps in an attempt to simply justify one's own lawlessness. And suddenly, the standard of real manhood drops: the norm becomes rape and murder, divorce and war.

And the third tragedy remains for the children, some of whom carry disease and all of whom carry stigma into this world. All that results in more stigma and maybe even abandonment, even as they dwell in a sick land that seems only to wait for them to grow up so that they may join the war too. May God heal the land and the people, not just "that" land and "those" people but we who are their sisters and brothers, and soon.

04 October 2007

Emily, the Bride

Is my sister gorgeous or what?

As I approached the corner of Cotton and Common, she suddenly came into view, a statue atop her pedestal, veil flying in the wind.

What could I do but roll down my window and scream with excitement? Then park and join the smiling gallery.

Lots more veil-flying ensued, with both mom and Vicki serving as helper. Noel behaved himself rather well throughout as well. He only ate a few leaves and otherwise enjoyed the show as much as the grownups did.

The heat seemed as nothing, Emily our cool celebration at every location: that temple, the old red-brick church downtown, a levee, and a graffiti wall perfect for her cop fiance.

I can hardly wait for the big day (November 10) when we all get to join in the photos. Kevin Beasley seemed to be having such fun, exuberant and giddy as he described this and that pose, looking through the veil and laying on the ground to get this or that angle. Highly recommendable, he is, for adding to the celebratory giddiness.

And then, what images we get in the end!