Friday, January 30, 2009

bike fail

I have excuses but it is still true. I did not ride my bicycle at all to come to work in January. I drove every single day that I came to work. But here are my excuses.
  • The temps were from the arctic
  • Gasoline was cheap
  • The recumbent refused to keep it's line unfrozen
  • The recumbent's tires refused to hold air
  • The wrists hurt after riding the upright Trek, which is why I got a recumbent
  • The snow and ice left very little road for me and the cars to share
  • The state did not make a priority for shoveling off the path over the bridge
  • I've been sick half the month, in fact I didn't go to work for almost half the month

I need to draw a conclusion from these data. It's not that I'm a wimp. I just need a new bike. I think I found one and it is inexpensive. It's upright, but still relaxed, no wrist pressure. Feel free to guess or make suggestions.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I'm not sure if these domes are necessarily belonging to the conservation group, but they are too cool. I was perusing the archives of the Tiny House Blog and came across the Domespace (France/ USA). I like domes. I like round houses. I like wood. But I don't like expensive. I'm not sure about the ceiling/roof insulation, an air gap. However, you can rotate the house to capture the sun all day. It can be made with or without a rotating base. That is like totally wicked. But I don't play the lottery so I don't think I'll be living in one of these anytime soon.

Enjoy the promotional video enclosed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cinema review: Nanking (2007)

The HBO documentary Nanking was made in the honor of historian Iris Chang who wrote a ground breaking history of the atrocity, see my book report. As is the usual case, a book is better because it can tell more of the story. In fact, this film was pretty faithful to the history but it only told half the story, the bad part. It didn't explain the circumstances of the city's liberation. If one were clueless, but then why would they watch this depressing movie, one might think the city was still occupied by the Japanese, and men were still on the prowl for women to rape or men to practice wielding their bayonets on. I was disappointed in not even some afterword in text on the screen providing the date of liberation and by which country's armies, US, USSR and UK.

The half of the story it did tell, was told well and in an artistic manner. Instead of typical voice overs, reading journals, letters, and news clips, actors were filmed in period dress speaking the lines, as if the witnesses were gathered for a review and catharsis of the atrocities they witnessed. The story was haunted though, in a way frequently noted at GetReligion. Most of the Europeans and Americans involved in the defense of 200,000 refugees were there for religious reasons, very strong religious reasons. A chapel did provide scenery and God was mentioned, but usually in the quotes of anguish and frustration with the overwhelming evil. Imagine if Billy Graham's film division, World Wide Pictures, filmed this. The viewer would here much more about why these people decided to risk their own lives. A really good movie, one without ghosts, would tread somewhere between these theoretical poles.

The movie is a good introduction to the horrors committed by the Japanese. In order to dull the deniers, one who showed up to comment on the Nanking book report, interviews were filmed with retired Japanese soldiers. One even laughed as he discussed finding and raping women. Another discussed lining up the city's men to gun down then running out of oil to burn all the bodies. The viewer will learn the wickedness of Japan in Nanking. But the viewer misses the good half of the story. The city's liberation. The rescue of 200,000 people in a 2 square mile area protected by internationals on the verge of starvation. The rescue came just in time. So watch this but then read Iris Chang's book, The Rape of Nanking.

Friday, January 23, 2009

John Stewart notes similarities

between Bush's and Obama's rhetoric

HT: GetReligion

a great observation from the inauguration

Pastor Lance, of a black reformed congregation, loved the display of love and respect between Barack and Michele. He writes,
here's a bit of advice for those seeking to be winesome, witty, with it, relevant and attractive to our culture. And I'm particularly aiming this to our brothers.

Get married.

Find a wife to whom you can pour your love into and show authentic Christ-like leadership by serving her interest, issues and real needs.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama v. Lincoln (2)

I posted a note last year about this comparison. John Piper adds some more...

On January 12, 2009 Samantha Heiges, age 23, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for drowning her newborn in Burnsville, Minnesota. If she had arranged for a doctor to kill the child a few weeks earlier she would be a free woman.

What are the differences between this child before and after birth that would justify it’s protection just after birth but not just before? There are none. This is why Abraham Lincoln’s reasoning about slavery is relevant in ways he could not foresee. He wrote:

You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own.

You do not mean color exactly? You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own.
There's a little bit more at his post.

book report: Slave Nation by Mr. and Mrs. Blumrosen part 2

Slave Nation by Blumrosen (2005) does a great job at exposing the crooked legs our nation was founded on. The cry for freedom was no less about freedom of commerce and assembly but also freedom to own property, which in Southern terms was the euphemism for slavery [like today "choice" is the euphemism for abortion].

Any mythology that proclaims that slaves were actually treated so nicely that they enjoyed the institution should be confronted with the results of the British to free any slaves who joined them against the rebels. The South "had not recovered from the brutal warfare in the later years of the war of the loss of a quarter of thier slaves who had been liberated by the British." p.178 Similarly, almost 90 years later, "of the nearly one hundred and eighty thousand black troops that served in the Union Army during the Civil War, at least one hundred and thirty-eight thousand were former slaves." pp.251-2

The book shows how the compromise of the Northwest Ordinance allowed a stronger government to form with the Constitution that replaced the Articles of Confederation. This compromise promised all the territory above the Ohio River to remain free, no slavery. One of the ironies of this moral compromise is the complete disregard for the nations that did live there already, who were not strong enough to resist the white invaders. But at least the Northern invaders, unlike the Southern invaders would not be bringing slaves. Blumrosen writes, "the Northwest Ordinance, by creating a slave-free area, broke the power of slavery. A populace evolved in the area who, because they did not exploit slave labor, were not blinded by self-interest into ignoring its evils." p.249 They were blinded by self-interest in grabbing land belonging to native nations, however. This still continues. They are still ignored.

As a citizen, all I can say is our country is on a trajectory. It seeks good ultimately, but has a hard time with accepting the pain and hardship that doing good entails. It prefers to pass it on to another generation, who may have a harder time solving the issues. We are still straigtening out treating all people as equals, but we did elect a black president. We are still ignoring the claims of American Indian tribes. We are still ignoring the realities of abortion.

I highly commend this history of our country's beginnings.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

book report: Slave Nation by Mr. and Mrs. Blumrosen part 1

In my recent illness, I have had time to read another depressing book on the effect of slavery on our country's origins. Slave Nation: How slavery united the colonies and sparked the American Revolution by A. W. and R. G. Blumrosen is a worthy read for those of us who learned much of their American history from Schoolhouse Rock.

So how did slavery become a contributor to revolutionary sentiment? Certainly a British occupied Boston hardly concerned most of the other states who traded with England directly. However, when a slave named James Somerset fled from his Bostonian owner while visiting in London, the British court found in Somerset's favor, declaring in 1772 slavery "so odious" that "it is not allowed or approved by the Law of England." p.21 This freaked out slave owners in the colonies.
The possibility of a British rejection of slavery anywhere in the empire appalled the plantation owners and their representatives because slavery was a necessary underpinning of their prosperity. Slavery was the foundation of the economic and social environment that their leaders represented and protected.
The riches that flowed from slave ownership were threefold: the value of the slaves themselves, both as capitaland as security for loans; the value of the product they produced, including more slaves; and the value of the land that they cleared and planted. p.25
It's all about money and prestige and getting ahead. Perhaps the reasoning goes, "if someone will have to be stepped on I'd rather do the stepping that become the step."
...owning slaves enabled white children to have some schooling, or enabled ill or disabled family members to bear lighter loads. In addition, the existence of black slaves provided the poor white slave owner with a status that connected him with his betters and distinguished him from those destined to labor forever. p.26
John Adams of Massachusetts decided that things needed to change with the colony's relations with England. Thomas Jefferson, Virginia, and all the southern slave dependent states also wanted a change. Adams' reasons were different, but a common enemy united them. Eventually the First Continental Congress was called. They generated in 1774 the Declaration of Rights and Grievances of which Article IV
declares independence in all cases of taxation and internal polity from British Parliament, and locates all such power in the "several provincial legislatures."
Thus it embodied the deal to preserve slavery as the price of revolution. The agreement was hardly incidental, but was a respnose to the demand for internal freedom for the colonies that came specifically from the South. p.108
Rebellion was not the only option though. Joseph Galloway of Pennsylvania had a more peaceful idea.
Galloway's alternative was to create an American colonial parliament, which, with the British parliament, could legislate on matters affecting the colonies...p.111
Thus the plan fully addressed all expressed northern concerns: the grievance concerning taxation without representation, the quartering and support of British troops without consent, as well as the closing of the port of Boston and the other Coercive Acts. p.112
...the Galloway plan was a powerful counter to the Adams-Rutledge language of Article IV because it fully satsified the "taxation without representation" issue...But, as Patrick Henry suggested, the southern colonists would not assume that the same thing would be true when the British raised questions about slavery. The northern and middle colonies might conclude that their self-interestlay in limiting or eliminating slavery. p.115
Just as was evident later in the Civil War, the slave owners would rather risk a great loss of life than lose the comforts of life afforded by slavery.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I missed it

I didn't see the inauguration live. Instead I woke up with a stomach virus. I ended up back in bed sleeping hard for hours, except when symptoms manifested. When I awoke, I read and watched the prayers, oath, and speech. Let's hope things can turn out as he envisions. I do recognize the feeling of being in Steve Job's RDF (Reality Distortion Field) but that's not a bad thing, as long as it allows reality to adjust it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

book report: The American Patriot's Almanac Daily Readings on America

I'm a history fanatic. However, my readings of US history, especially in regards to its relations with native Americans, left my feelings of patriotism greatly diminished. We, as a country, have done so much wrong. Yet, The American Patriot's Almanac: Daily Readings on America edited by Bill Bennett and John Cribb has fanned this smoking chaff into a small flame. The introduction fairly acknowledges that our country is faulty and compares two approaches to patriotism.

In the early nineteenth century, naval hero Stephen Decatur gave a famous toast: "Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right, but our country, right or wrong!" That almost hits the mark, but not quite. Carl Schurz, a German immigrant who served as a Union general in the Civil War and later as a U.S. senator, improved Decatur's toast: " Our country right or wrong - when right to be kept right, when wrong to be put right." (p.x)

The almanac focuses on what America has done right. One example that I enjoyed was the entry for May 18th.

On May 18, 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, a case that challenged a Louisiana law segregating railroad-car passengers by race. The Court upheld the statute, establishing the policy of "separate but equal" public facilities for blacks and whites. John Marshall Harlan, a former slave owner, was the only justice to dissent from the Plessy decision. In the following decades, civil rights advocates often quoted his forceful argument in their quest to end segregation:
In view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved...
The arbitrary separation of citizens on the basis of race while they are on a public highway is a badge of servitude wholly inconsistent with the civil freedom and the equality before the law established by the Constitution. It cannot be justified upon any legal grounds...
We boast of the freedom enjoyed by our people above all other peoples. But it is difficult to reconcile that boast with a state of the law which, practically, puts the brand of servitude and degradation upon a large class of our fellow citizens, our equals before the law. The thin disguise of "equal" accommodations for passengers in railroad coaches will not mislead anyone, nor atone for the wrong this day done. (p. 169)

This almanac is not only about white America. Their are quotes from Frederick Douglass, MLK Jr., and Sitting Bull. It's not only about male America. Betsy Ross, Amelia Earhardt, and Susan B. Anthony are only a few of the women quoted. It covers the time from the American Revolution to recent events. It seems that Lincoln gets frequent mentions. I read the entire Constitution in its pages. I have to admit, that although a brilliant political document, it was written by lawyers, and will cure anyone's insomnia. This is not a read-in-one-session book, although my oldest daughter, who loves books full of facts nearly accomplished that. It might be good to read to your children at a meal together and inform them of the history they will never hear in school. I don't think the schools are intentionally depriving children, but there is so much to cover and so little time, which is why I've become a fanatic of history. The stories are so much more compelling when told with all the background and abundant quotes. This almanac provides many useful tidbits about our history.

Cinema review: Defiance (2008)

Being the family man that I am, I don't normally partake of violent action adventure movies anymore. The exceptions tend to come in January, during my and my brother's birthdays. Last night I took him out to see Defiance. I don't normally see R-rated movies anymore, but the rating wasn't earned for sex but for violence, not unexpected for a current war movie. Although based on a true story, the truth is too complicated for a 2 hour movie. So it is a parable, but good nevertheless. The Nazi invasion of Poland results in genocide. Four Jewish brothers escape after their parents are killed. They end up personifying the Jewish hero of the Old Testament, David, who led a group of ruffians in the wilderness while pursued by King Saul. They struggle over how to treat the Germans and their Polish sympathizers. Other fleeing Jews join them in the forest. They trade with and steal from local farmers. One brother joins up with the Red Army partisans to resist the Germans. The movie captures the complex emotions well. The leader wants to not treat his enemies the way they are treated, yet he refuses to stop the lynching of a captured German courier. The David figure becomes a Moses figure at the end when the Nazis are pushing into the forest and the large band is forced to a marshy river. The oldest is ready to die, but a younger brother demands they push on saying the water won't part from them, but they will not give up. So they push through, only to be met by a single panzer unit which pins them down. Suddenly, the unit of the brother who had joined the Red Army flanks the unit and all the Germans die and the people are safe. It was a great ending. The best part was that eventually 1200 people lived in the forest for the next 2 years and survived the Nazis. Two of the brothers ended up in New York City running a trucking company.

On the day we celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., I appreciated this other struggle for basic human rights, by the European Jews in WW2. I also appreciate seeing the struggle in trying to treat others the way one wants to be treated and leaving vengeance for the Lord. It's complicated.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

SIP Yurts- Solargon

Finally, someone thought like I did, that a Yurt made out of SIPs, in a kit form, would be a good idea and they are selling it, Hello Solargon Structures. One additional bonus is that they are using Polyurethane SIPs which are stronger and have a higher R-value per inch than EPS. SIPs are Structural Insulated Panels, which are foam sandwiched between panels, making a wall both strong without beams and insulated without adding pink stuff. EPS is like the stryofoam in coolers and polyurethane is like the foam around your freezer. I love yurts so much that I made it another category label.

Back to Solargon. They don't list prices but when the advertising talks about lifetime costs are much smaller than a conventional home, you know the upfront cost is steep. I love the simplicity of construction. I'm not a handy guy. I'm a measure thrice and cut it 4 times sort of guy. These things just hook together.

I want to give a big fat hat tip to one of my favorite blogs for this lead, the Tiny House Blog. They have pictures as well.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Blogs I commented on this week

I'm trying out a new idea. I read many blogs, but usually, I often comment at the ones I don't agree with, hence I don't put them in my shared feeds. So here is where I left droppings this week. You will have to go to them to see if I agreed or not or fell somewhere between or outside.
Pass the Courvoisier at Blaque Tulip
“Wives, In The Same Way” ? at the CBE Scroll
Is Spreading the Wealth Wrong? at the Reconciliation Blog
choosing a house at Living a Wartime Lifestyle

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

God does abortion reduction

I think God intervenes frequently to prevent abortions, including movies and sidewalk ministry. But using the fraud of Bernie Madoff to bankrupt a reproductive rights foundation, resulting in PP layoffs is one of those unexpected, only God could have coordinated, interventions.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Abortion in U.S. - better than it used to be

Marvin Olasky tells the history of abortion in America. He finds it as early as 1652, but that's probably just for non-Indian abortions. The good news is that a lower percentage of babies are being killed now than before the civil war. The responses of the church, both liberal and conservative, at the time are remarkably similar to today.
Then as now, theological radicals such as Henry Wright argued that a child's "first claim is to a designed existence, if it is to exist at all." Some said "it was less criminal to kill children before they were born, than to curse them with an unwelcome existence." But pro-life leaders rejected the premise that an "unwelcome existence" was the only alternative to abortion. They looked at three groups of women at risk for abortions and offered programs of education, refuge, and adoption that would help women to avoid unwanted pregnancy or to recover from it, without killing a child.
My own friends have responded to me with the first argument for abortion. Two friends independently told me foster care was worse than abortion. I respond, ask a kid who's in foster care if they would like for you to kill them. The three groups of women who were cared for were the single women trying to live and work in the cities who had unreliable boyfriends, prostitutes, and religious libertines. Adoption was a highly successful solution. Pro-lifers described the babies' features in utero. They also warned about the mental harm of abortion.
The psychological stress is particularly interesting, because supporters of abortion have labeled "post-abortion syndrome" a recent invention of anti-abortion forces. And yet, in 1875 feminist Elizabeth Evans was describing the effects of abortions on women who had them a decade or two earlier. One woman, she reported, was "wild with regret at my folly in rejecting the (alas! only once-proffered) gift of offspring." Another woman described how her "thoughts were filled with imaginings as to what might have been the worth of that child's individuality; and especially, after sufficient time had elapsed to have brought him to maturity, did I busy myself with picturing the responsible posts he might have filled."
This was when the country had abortion laws. Yet, unfortunately, as Olasky points out, they were rarely enforced. That's true of the few laws we have on the books today. Hopefully, our country will collectively repent, one day, of this sin. Meanwhile, we'll keep loving the babies and the moms. We'll offer them hope and peace through Jesus.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Greek Bibles online

I am attempting again to read through the Greek New Testament. A chapter a day should get me through the year. I started in the Pastoral Epistles in December. As someone who likes to read through the Bible a couple times a year, it's good for me to read in slow motion. I use two tools. The NET Bible diglot and Kubo's Lexicon.

It's still cheating but it's more effort than using Bibleworks, which is such a crutch that I never even try to figure out a compound verb. I am in Hebrews right now and it is very humbling.

Sometimes though, one might need to get their Greek New Testament on when they are at work. It's nice to know where the good are. I've used Zhubert before, which is at The Resurgence, but the B-Greek list just pointed to Kata Biblon. Both are really great. For the best cheating away from your tools, I find Misslebrook's notes the best. They are more of a Greek study Bible than anything else. They are so much of a crutch, like software, that I never stretch.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

book report: The Cay by Theodore Taylor

My wife picked out an excellent children's book on CD for our drive to Lake George, The Cay by Theodore Taylor. It's set in WW2 in the Dutch Caribbean. The narrator is an American boy whose mother takes him by ship to escape the danger of the German U-boats prowling the waters keeping the oil tankers from helping the allies. Of course, this is bad, and their own boat is sunk. The boy, Philip, ends up on a life raft with an old islander, Timothy. As his frustration grows Philip lashes out with his learned racial epithets against Timothy who, nevertheless, continues to care for Philip, even after Philip goes blind from a head injury during the sinking. They end up on a small deserted island for months. Timothy, aware of his mortality, teaches Philip to thrive despite his blindness, with marked paths, fishing lines, frond weaving, and coconut retrieval. Philip learns to appreciate Timothy as a man and mentor and friends and, with the aid of his blindness, forgets his skin color.

The ending is very satisfying for a children's story. The reader of this story does an excellent job with Caribbean accents. Minor sound effects subtly add to the story. The story kept my children quiet and engaged. I, too, was very interested. We all were unhappy when the story ended, but we were still over an hour away from our destination.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Vacation Review - Six Flags Great Escape Lodge, Lake George, NY

A homeschooling family has plenty of flexibility in scheduling vacations, especially right after traditionally congested weeks. Hence, when most families were leaving Six Flags Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Waterpark, we were arriving. By God's grace we arrived before a wintry weather event and left before the next one. My parents vacationed at Lake George frequently when I was a kid and they still do today. It's a pretty area. In the winter, my options are limited since I'm not a skier. However I am a body surfer, and at this Lodge I could surf all day--and I did.

The lines were very short, so my son and I learned to surf on our knees and attempted several tricks. I don't think I would have attained this feat if I had to wait long between attempts. The girls tried this too, but once was enough for them. They preferred the meandering creek. The waterslides with tubes were OK. They were very dark though. My youngest fell off her tube near the top and had a painful ride to the bottom. The lifeguard at the bottom could not have cared less. It's too bad we couldn't have soothed her in the adults-only warm water spa.

We bought a Lodge package that included breakfast and lunch at Johnny Rockets which had a simple menu that keeps kids happy. The other on-site restaurant that we wanted to try was not open. Still, we ate well. I gained weight despite playing hard at the water park and jogging on the fitness center's treadmill. My beautiful bride enjoyed her well-earned massage, which every homeschool mom earns weekly, but I can only afford every 5 years.

The room offered a coffee maker, refrigerator, microwave, and hair dryer, all of which we used. It also offered a pull-out bed from the couch behind a 3/4 wall in addition to the 2 queen sized beds. We let the kids have the real beds and tried to live on the pull-out bed. That was a mistake. I slept poorly on it, both nights. Additionally, we can never get any hotel's in-wall heating/cooling unit to keep a comfortable temperature. We freeze or melt. One bizarre aspect of the hotel was the loss of water pressure, despite only 20 rooms in use. The desk hostess blamed it on the town's water line. Ok. The water pressure would resume quickly, but it was almost like an enforced water conservation method.

There were several kids activities in the beautiful lobby, which we and the kids enjoyed. There was a bingo game and a scavenger hunt, all of which had tokens for the arcade as prizes. Most of the arcade games were non-violent and of the skills-test variety, with tickets rewarded to purchase junk from the arcade store.

This park has not been open long, but the Six Flags park across the street has, so the area is not a hidden gem. I recommend pulling the kids out of school for a couple days and enjoying the short lines at the water park. Any more than a couple of days and your kids will get bored with it. But then you can always visit the museums and outlet stores.

One additional bonus for me was the Coleman outlet in Lake George, the town. Unfortunately, many attractions were not open. My son was relieved though. He kept asking, can't we go on a vacation for once without visiting a boring museum? I was thwarted this time. But there will be other times to inflict history on my children.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

cinema review: Zorba the Greek (1964)

If you want existentialism without the angst, Zorba the Greek is your ticket. The scenery is gorgeous. Anthony Quinn is amazing. The townspeople are morally depraved, well, everyone is in this film. I'm not sure if the characters are immoral, but, rather, amoral to a large degree. This movie is a dramatization of the philosophy of Nietzsche in particular. So a brief philosophical and theological discussion must be included in this review.

What is existentialism? This brief definition at captures the flavor seen in the film. A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one's acts.

Nothing is declared right or wrong in this story. Sex outside of marriage is achieved without conscience: affairs, prostitutes, multiple partners, rape, nothing is condemned. But the universe is not indifferent to their escapades. It is indeed hostile. In fact, it seems almost just, as if God is shouting at them to repent, but instead Zorba laughs and dances.

The essayist in Wikipedia regarding the themes in the novel writes,
The novel can be perceived as a vaccine against metaphysical thinking and it describes the contrast introduced by Friedrich Nietzsche between the Apollonian and the Dionysian outlook on life. Apollo/the narrator represents the spirit of order and rationality, while Dionysus/Zorba represents the spirit of ecstatic, spontaneous will to live. It could be argued that the narrator does not make much of a struggle against the Dionysian spirit; however, the book is a tribute to life in this world, as was the philosophy of Nietzsche.
The last part kills me. A tribute to the world?! A widow is lynched after her one night stand with the Briton for which her spurned suitor committed suicide. The existentialist can acknowledge, hurt feelings, but not cry out for justice. Who can Apollo go to to find order and rationality if there is no being greater than himself that defines order? What is left for these existentialist characters? They don't rise above their fellow members of humanity, but participate themselves in grabbing as much as they can before the next disaster befall them. They are no different from the townspeople who pillage the French courtesan's home and hotel seconds after her death. Zorba, her fiancé, has no interest in arranging a funeral, since she is no longer existent. Honoring her soul is no different from honoring the clothes she wore in his view.

This movie celebrates selfishness, but it's a self-defeating celebration. Life can be celebrated, but it's best celebrated within the channel God has carved. Overflowing the banks of this channel, like all floods, causes pain and hurt. This is a movie about a flood but denies the pain caused, and encourage us to enjoy the ride nevertheless. It's movie only the hard-hearted can enjoy. The soft-hearted mourn for the wreckage of lives left in it's ebb.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

1st person account of regret of aborting disabled child

This essay in the Daily Mail today, isn't an apparently religiously motivated essay of repentance, just the mourning of a mother who regretted murdering, her word, her baby diagnosed with Trisomy 13,(see this link of another family's celebration of their baby's brief life with Trisomy 18).

She writes,

He would have extra digits and a heart defect. For the first child I conceived had Patau's syndrome - also known as trisomy 13, which affects one in 10,000 births.

The condition typically results in death either before birth, at birth, or in the following few days. Those with the syndrome can survive, though rarely, into young adulthood, and that possibility has been enough to fuel my dreams of what might have been...

Yet all this can only ever be conjecture, for I had a termination in my 13th week of pregnancy, two weeks before the turn of the millennium.

`It was an experience that has scarred me in ways I could never have anticipated. Put simply: my decision and its consequences have tortured me for the past nine years.

I've been unable to talk about it easily, unless with a drink in hand, let alone write about the experience. This is partly because I have felt out-of-step with the rest of the world, where the validity of abortion is a given for millions of people - especially women - and to admit to being uneasy about this seems to make you a traitor to any notion of 'sisterhood'.

Yet also, and this is the crucial point, because of an overwhelming and isolating sense of shame. Almost from the moment I awoke from the anaesthetic, I have deeply regretted my decision. Whichever way I looked at it, it felt then and it feels now like murder.

When I signed the consent form that permitted staff to perform a termination, I killed my first child. Why? Because he would have been born disabled. What a terrible admission that is.

Although I suspect a few other women may be quietly nodding their heads in recognition, I'm not sure the majority of people will understand or sympathise with me. Some will find my action abhorrent; some do not approve of anyone criticising abortions...

As I was already 12 weeks pregnant, waiting any longer would mean having to endure labour, rather than a 'neat' termination under general anaesthetic. I felt confident that he was right; that misdiagnosis was impossible.

What nobody told me, then or later, was that not everybody terminates such a pregnancy. That I could have gone on and carried the baby to fullterm. The baby might even have survived for years - albeit with a serious and life-limiting set of disabilities...

It dawned on me that once we had decided not to go ahead with tests for Down's or anything else, I had stopped worrying about how our child would turn out. She was going to be our baby; and as long as she was born alive, everything else could be dealt with.

In the past nine years, not a week has gone by when I haven't thought of him

I'm not trying to underplay the enormous work and sacrifices that many families must undergo when they have a disabled child - how could I? And I'm certainly not sitting in judgment of families who do choose to terminate such a pregnancy and are at peace with their decision...

book report: Samson Occom - Brothertown heritage

Samson Occom's biographer, W. DeLoss Love, wrote at the time of a treaty dispute with the resettled Brothertown tribe and the U.S. Government, a dispute ruled in their favor by the Supreme Court. Love seeks to emphasize to his readers the contributions that these tribes and their ancestors did on behalf of the United States and the colonies before the revolution.
The Brothertown Indians, as the remnant of the New England tribes, have had a peculiar plea for consideration and justice. They alone of all the scattered nations, which our forefathers were wont to term "the lost tribes of Israel, can trace their ancestry back to the days of the founders of this Republic. In their civilization the seeds of the saintly John Eliot's sowing are still bearing fruit. They are the descendants of Wheelock's Indian Charity School - the spiritual children of Samson Occom. Their ancestors fought with Uncas, "the white man's friend," in the Pequot War, went out with his three sons against King Philip and came to the rescue of the English after the massacre of Bloody Brook. The rolls of the all the later Colonial wars contain the names of soldiers from whom they can rove a linial descent. Their great grandfathers fought in the Revolution, and so many of them perished that it was, by the testimony of William Williams, the death blow to their ancient tribal strength. In the war of 1812 their grandsires were engaged, and they themselves, out of their diminished numbers, furnished nearly threescore and ten soldiers in the Civil War. Where in this broad land can such a Society of the Colonial Wars be found? Whatever the merits of their claim may have been, which it is not for the historian to judge, the survivors of the New England Indians have a title to the respect of the American people. pp.323-324
It's striking to me that their volunteerism in wars they had no part in killed off so many of their men. I found a similar note in another Connecticut tribe that did not relocate, the Schaghticoke Indians, provided men who joined "the Continental Army, serving as scouts, signal corps, and soldiers in the Revolutionary War."

I enjoyed reading a book over 100 years old. I highly commend this biography of Samson Occom, Mohegan evangelist and statesman of the 18th century.

Friday, January 02, 2009

book report: Samson Occom - Statesman

Samson Occom's biographer in 1899, W. DeLoss Love, greatly admired his subject.
If any native has merited the dignity of being called an Indian statesman, that man was Samson Occom. To recapitulate his views: he believed in the efficacy of Christian missions, and in education, particularly in industrial affairs; but he seems to have thought that the civilization of the Indian depended in large measure upon his relation to the land upon which he lived. So long as he roamed at large in the forest, he thought the native would remain a savage. It was necessary to gather them apart from the white men and on land which they could not sell, where they could be taught industrial pursuits and obtain a living from the soil. Moreover, he believed in maintaining, so far as possible, a tribal unity, establishing a form of self-government under the protection of the state, and preserving the Indian blood inits purity, especially from a mixture with the negro. These principles he sought to embody in the Brothertown tribe and the town they founded. p.284
The dissonance in the part about blood purity clangs loudly in my head. I think the white biographer in 1899 does perceive a problem with it either. In fact, I thought maybe Love added that because of his own fancy. However, he quotes from the deed the Oneidas gave the Brothertown Indians for land in New York state.
These lands were given to the New England Indians and their posterity "without power of alienation," and they could "not be possessed by any persons deemed of the said tribes who are descended from or have intermixed with negroes or molattoes." p.285
As posted earlier, Love had previously mentioned Occom's opposition to slavery as well as Indian-African inter-marriage. I also noted earlier the apparent effects of Indian-Anglo intermarriage in the appearances of Brothertown leaders. The Brothertown Indians tried to make a town based on Connecticut's Constitution and the Bible. Unfortunately, they included anti-miscegenation laws.

They made stringent laws against immorality, profanity, drunkenness, theft, extortion, idleness, neglect of children, and marriages with person of negro blood.
p.302 It just proves no Christian organization will ever succeed in bringing heaven to earth. We will always screw it up. Except for that inter-marriage law, I'd be happy to live there, but I'm white, which would also exclude me.

This reminds me of the thesis of Ben Kiernan's Blood and Soil, of which, I did several book reports. Pure blood and undefiled soil were goals used to justify all sorts of atrocities by the stonger against weaker humans, including the European invaders of North America against the natives. However, minority Christian leader, Samson Occom, never stooped to violence to achieve those goals. Perhaps, because, he was a victim of the ends justifying the means.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

book report: Samson Occom - Card shark

Nowadays, many Americans associate native Americans with casinos. Samson Occom, Mohegan evangelist in the 18th century invented a missionary tool called "Christian cards." He dealt them out to provoke spiritual discussions with his listeners. Love writes
In the evenings when no neighborhood meeting could be held, he gathered the young people about the pioneer's fireside, and entertained and instructed the with a gae which he had devised, called "Christian cards." These were versified passages of Scripture printed on cardboard, which he ave out to the company and as they were read he offered some comments upon them. He seems to have had an Old Testament and New TEstament pack; and the art was in the appropriateness of the card to the person, at which religious dealing the Reverend Occom was doubtless expert, though he does not instances when one "did not get the card which he intended." p.278