Monday, February 21, 2011

Planned Parenthood Is Not Evil

recent tweet that I in turn retweeted got me flamed today, yet I thought the tweet made a valid point. I didn't think I had to provide my own commentary (which, given how talkative I am, could not be restricted to Twitter's 140 characters).

I blog about things that I have trouble accepting, because writing about such topics helps me figure out what I really think about a given issue. The more I think about Catholic doctrine and blog about them publicly, sometimes I find myself reconsidering some of my original (religious) beliefs; sometimes I realign myself with Catholic doctrine. After today, though, I have been goaded into actually supporting Planned Parenthood outright.

I haven't been teaching for very long, but I've been teaching teenagers and young adults long enough to recognize that merely (attempting to) teach abstinence by-and-large does not work. There are those who will abstain from premarital sex for a variety of reasons, including their religious beliefs, but most people won't. Instead of teaching that abstinence is the only way to avoid pregnancy, how about teaching other ways to prevent pregnancy? This includes teaching people about the various types of birth control.

The Catholic Church teaches that birth control should not be used, but this needs to be reconsidered too. I myself used the pill in the past, however, because I have a gynecological and endocrinological problem that would make having biological children impossible otherwise. (Not that I'm likely to be able to have my own children anyway, but goodness.) Medically legitimate reasons for using birth control are simply not discussed, nor to my mind even acknowledged. According to doctrine, I should not have taken those birth control pills, yet not doing so could have had led to other medical issues. These sorts of things are rarely a black-or-white issue; there are often other things to consider.

When it comes down to it, I recognize that there valid reasons to avoid a pregnancy even by those who would very much like a family later, and that one way to properly plan for a family such that children can be properly cared for and loved is by the use of birth control. More birth control = fewer unplanned/unwanted pregnancies = fewer abortions and/or children and families placed in impossibly difficult positions.

Today I severely pruned the list of folks I follow on Twitter and FaceBook, and made my Twitter account private, because one person has tried to browbeat various Catholic doctrinal points over the course of the past few days. I have tried to make it clear that my blogging openly about various issues with which I disagree is the best way for me to work my way through these issues (in teaching, we call it "writing to learn"); instead, I have been lambasted, had doctrine shoved down my throat, had it implied that as a Catholic I must agree with every single doctrinal point, and told that I should not be blogging publicly about any issue as such.

It is not that I would not care to discuss these issues; I don't mind being criticized; I don't even mind being told that I am wrong: It is that I do not wish to be harangued. I would gladly try to explain my points of view to those who would like to have a conversation about it; instead, I find that I can only be on the receiving end of some strong beliefs.

The ironic thing is, I still equate abortion with murder; I still think it should be illegal. But I also recognize the dangers in making abortion illegal, and I see that more harm than good could come from its illegality. I dislike pushing my religious beliefs on others; I have a strong aversion to having it done to me. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Definition: Catholic

I've been a Catholic my whole life; I've received all the sacraments in due course, go to Mass weekly, and go to Confession (not as often as I should, like many others). But a recent FaceBook discussion made me wonder if I'm the only Catholic, or one of a minority, who finds it difficult to follow the Catholic doctrine (Magisterium) verbatim.

I know many Catholics who vote for political candidates based on the candidates' view on abortion alone; for these Catholics, it's a single-issue election. I'm not one of those Catholics. 

For the most part I agree with Catholic doctrine, but there are issues with which I disagree. I am pro-life, for example; I consider abortion equivalent to murder. That being said, though, I hesitate to support laws that would make abortion illegal, for several reasons. First, I recognize that I live in a pluralistic society, one in which the majority of people do not agree with me. I also recognize that there are instances, however rare they might be, in which an abortion is necessary. I also understand that unless sex education is properly taught - in the schools or by parents, by someone - many will consider abortion the best method to end an unwanted pregnancy. I can divide the issue into two separate issues: moral and civil. Morally I believe abortion to be wrong; however, there is something to be said for providing various options, making an abortion much more difficult to obtain without making it outright illegal.

Gay marriage is another one of those issues. A family has come to be redefined as two parents who are able to care for a child and each other; I do not believe marriage need any longer be defined as something for only a man and a woman.

I think much of the church's doctrine was prescribed at a time when people simply didn't understand the world around them. The church will continually disallow women becoming priests because Jesus had no female disciples. Imagine trying to send out two single women at the time of Christ in the Middle East; it simply would not have been permitted. (Come to think of it, even now the Middle East is not exactly a bastion of gender equality - and I say that as the granddaughter of a Syrian man who didn't believe I should do anything more than graduate from high school and immediately start a family.) Perhaps it's time to rethink some of these policies.

Obedience is the difficult thing for me; the most I can do at any given point is to leave myself open to differing viewpoints, in essence to leave myself open to what God wants of me. I am not a conservative Catholic, and the older I get, the less conservative I become in my thinking.


Friday, February 18, 2011

My son is not an issue. He is a person.

Two (unrelated) things:


Not all Catholics are against gay marriage. Not all of us creationists; not all of us take what's written in the Bible literally. 

I wonder if those previous statements make me a bad Catholic. I'm more interested in social justice, and using education as a means of teaching alternatives to the combat the "evils of society." But it's hard not to bonk those students on the head, sometimes. 

Steepster Tea Exchange

Recently, Steepster held a SweeTea Exchange


I got the following teas in the mail today:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

If nothing else, Valentine's Day gives me a chance to be publicly obnoxious (more so). I got some very nice perfume that I've had my eye on that I wore when we went out to dinner at Naked Fish Bistro, which was excellent.
And finally:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wedding Assumption Questions

Several well-meaning friends have asked questions about the wedding that have led me to realize that they have made assumptions based on their own experiences, or their own wedding. And these questions weren't phrased in a "Are you going to do [fill-in-the-blank]?" manner.

  • "What gifts are you two going to exchange at the wedding?" Ed and I are not exchanging wedding gifts. I never understood why folks did that to begin with.
  • "When are you going to have the bridesmaids/groomsmen lunches?" I don't know how we'd coordinate that. I don't know when everyone is coming; what's likely to happen is several members of the bridal party arriving at the last minute because of work or school and needing to travel long distances. I can't have a lunch for people for people who wouldn't/couldn't be present.
  • "What jewelry are you giving the bridesmaids?" I didn't know this was a requirement. We got our bridal party gifts, but why does it have to be jewelry? (As it happens, we did get our bridesmaids something they may wish to wear with their attire, but we're certainly not requiring them to wear it.)

These question weren't asked in a mean-spirited way, and the folks who asked weren't thinking about our wedding in terms of folks needing to travel long distances and taking several days off work. I'm hoping most people who are in the wedding can make it to the rehearsal, but I also recognize that every person in our bridal party (with the exception of our two-year-old flower girl) will be missing work or school for our wedding.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Restless (Digital) Natives

I've been reading Young People, Ethics, and the New Digital Media: A Synthesis from the Good Play Project (the Kindle version is free), and I was so very happy to see it mentioned that "[a]s the Berkman Center's Digital Natives Project points out, not all youth are "digital natives," nor are all "digital natives" young people." While the Berkman Center refutes the assertion that all youth are digital natives, John Palfrey defines the difference.

I absolutely detest the phrases "digital natives" and "digital immigrants." I only ever hear these phrases used by middle aged (or older) folks in academia who are afraid of technology and are in awe of all the alleged computer knowledge those born after 1992 apparently have.

Furthermore, whenever I hear these terms (invariably at academic conferences, although I was first introduced to the phrases by one of my Methods teachers at Stony Brook University), the implication had always been that those who were young had implicit, extensive computer knowledge, while the rest of us ancients did not, simply based on our age.

I took issue with that. It implied that those who were young knew more than how to e-mail or was more involved online than social networking, had more innate knowledge of computers than everyone else.

The students I know - middle school students, high school students, and undergrads - do not blog or have their own websites; although several of my college classmate friends have their own blogs, my friends, tend to be a bit more inclined to write for their own volition.

But even when I was an undergrad - not that long ago - students five to 10 years younger than I knew much less than I when it came to computers. For my undergrad blogging assignments - done in Methods II, in which we were to blog about our experiences observing 50 hours of secondary classroom instruction - I the only student who already had a blog; many of the other students were confused as to how to set up their blogs.  Few posted regularly; so far as I know, none continued posting after the semester was over, even in a new blog. One student had been confused to the extent that instead of continuing to create new posts, she created one initial post and proceeded to leave comments on this initial post. Meanwhile, I maintained several blogs that I had been keeping for years, and also had my own website and domain, which I updated with my own admittedly rudimentary knowledge of HTML.

Like everything else, this knowledge had to be acquired. Simply being born at the same time of such technological proliferation does not mean that one will automatically have access to that expertise; it's comparable to saying that because one has a book in the house, one will just know how to read. One has to be taught.

Much of this is the circles one runs in, which is why phrases like "digital natives" and "digital immigrants" annoy me so much. Techy friends my age (and my techy friends are generally a small number of years older than I) have been doing things like taking apart and putting together computers since the Amiga days, and creating their own computer languages for decades. To my mind, that person who would be otherwise labelled a "digital immigrant" is much more "native" than a student whose elementary school has computers.

The older I get, the rantier I seem to get.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Maid of Stress

I tried really hard to choose bridesmaids dresses that weren't atrocious. I knew that no matter what color I chose, at least one person wasn't going to be happy, but I decided that it would be easier to choose a single color that would look good on more people and allowing my bridesmaids to choose their own style of dress; the color (a pale pink) would be the unifying marker. In other words, same designer, same color, different style of dress.

I don't know if most brides try to choose atrocities, but this one does seem ridiculous.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Girly Failure

I realized a few weeks ago that I'm getting married in May, and that the photographer will be taking pictures. I should probably attempt to look less unpolished. I had a pedicure a few months ago, which was lovely, so I thought I'd try for a manicure.

I don't usually polish my nails: I was never very good at it; it doesn't occur to me much anyway; mostly it's just too much effort. But on Sunday I gamely went to The Spa Club and got myself a French tip manicure. The woman did a nice job and said they could remain all pretty for up to two weeks, but within 24 hours my nails were starting to peel, and things have slowly gone downhill. (This particular spa didn't use acrylic nails; they use nail polish.) Clearly this wouldn't do if I wanted to have my nails done a few days before the wedding; by that method I'd have to get them done the day of the wedding, which just won't be feasible.

Yesterday we were at Wal-Mart, and as I passed the cosmetics section, I took a gander at some nail polish and fake nails. After some internal debate, I bought a light pink nail polish and some short French-tip nails. Unfortunately, I neglected to purchase some nail polish remover, which would be mistake number one.

Once we got home, I discovered happily that most of the fake nails would fit nicely (nothing seemed to fit my thumbs). Then I realized that having forgotten to purchase nail polish remover would screw me over; if I were to glue on the fake nails, one would still be able to see the white line of the previous nail polish through the fake nails.

This did not stop me from gluing on one of the nails anyway. And I have to admit I rather like it. There is visible white line thanks to the previous nail polish, but aside from that, it looks pretty nice. There's a weird pressure on my nails that I'm not used to, and I'll have to be gentler when I wash my hair.
I also learned that there's specific fake nail remover needed; I did not know I'd need this before I attached the singular fake nail, so for the time being I have a fake nail only on my left ring finger and chipped nail polish on the other nine fingers.

I wonder if I would have been better at this had I been allowed to play with Barbies when I was a kid.

[EDIT] Within five minutes of posting this, my fake nail got ripped off. I'm not entirely sure how.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

S.S. Comma

During my lunch/prep period today, I ran down to the copy room to make copies for tomorrow's peer review exercise, and since the copy room is down the hall from the office, I picked up my mail. One of the items in the mailbox was a request from a student who wanted help with his science fair project. I needed to answer two questions ("What subject do you teach? What department are you in?") and then draw a picture on the back of the paper based on what department I was in. For example, math teachers were to draw a flower; history teachers were to draw a lightbulb; administrators or counselors were to draw a school; a secretary or support personnel were to draw an airplane.

I was to draw a boat in the ocean. Behold the S.S. Comma!

A student caught me coloring. Yes, I used crayons. It was fun, dammit.