Thursday, October 28, 2010

Brains, Babies and Birth Control

Although Great Britain is a bit too Big Brother-ish for me (what with their cctv cameras seemingly everywhere), they seem to have more interesting newspapers. Recently, both the Telegraph and the Mail had articles touching on babies and birth control.

The Telegraph's article, which I have personally titled, "Why Feminists are So Stupid", took a look at the myth that mother's brains turn to mush when they have a baby. Not surprisingly, this anti-natalist myth is just that, a myth. As might be expected, if we took a moment to think about all the skills a new mom has to learn, and learn quickly, researchers have found that, "the brains of new mothers bulk up as they coped with the steep learning curve dealing with a newborn." What might not be so intuitive, however, is the finding that the mothers who, "gushed the most about their babies showed the greatest growth in key parts of the brain". The areas most affected were those, "involved with motivation - the hypothalamus - reward and emotion processing - the amygdala - senses - parietal lobe - and reasoning and judgment - the prefrontal cortex."

Looking at the other side of the babies versus birth control problem, the Mail's article found that women on hormonal contraception tend to be more jealous and possessive. A new study has shown, moreover, that those "taking the brands with the most [estrogen] may even find their hormone-driven suspicions place their relationships in jeopardy . . ." Previous studies have shown that drugs can also change a woman's taste in men, including suppressing their interest in more masculine men and even affecting their sense of smell. Not sounding good for the health of long term sexual relationships, is it?

Dr. Roberts, one of the study's authors, has said, "it seems that women, and perhaps pharmaceutical providers, are not fully aware of the range of potential psychological side-effects associated with pill use . . ."

Do ya think?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

So, is it or isn't it?

Religious feminists - no telling where they'll lurch next. Because I often let curiosity get the better of me when I should know better, I checked on the current issue of a certain organization's e-newsletter. Hunh. I thought they disliked it when patriarchalists called the issue a core one touching upon the heart of the Gospel (faulty anthropology leads to faulty theology and all that, right?). But no. When they decide to, it's OK to call it a "primary issue".

When patriarchalists teach what the Church has always taught, they are making God out to be "illogical and unjust". Heaven forbid we should cross the religious feminists path of logical argumentation. The problem, however and always, is that religious feminists never present what the Church teaches on these matters. It's always some aberrant crackpot who teaches that Eve was responsible for "all the sin in the world" or that women can never hold any position of responsibility in the church, or that God has already decided women have nothing of interest to say. So religious feminists can dismiss any old crackpot claiming to speak for God as a patriarchalist, but don't play on a level field - if a religious feminist celebrates her lesbian lover she is not really a religious feminist. They get to define what is authentic on both sides of that fence (sorry to the mixed metaphors).

I am encouraged by one thing, however. I think the religious feminists are finally recognizing what the battle is really all about, what truly divides us:

What is interesting about worldviews is that a corruption in one element creates a disruption in the other elements. . . . [I won't bore you with the bogeyman slavery analogy she launches into at this point]


Does the shared leadership and authority of women and men advance a more biblical world view? Does it promote the gospel and our capacity to reflect Jesus to the world? Katharine Bushnell, in the early 1900s, said that Christians must assess women's capacity for service in the same way we assess men's -- not based on the fall, but on our atonement in Christ. to do otherwise is to do violence to the gospel, to which all of Scripture and history point.

We finally agree. The authority of women and men is a gospel issue. Now if we could only agree how authority works out differently for women than it does for men.

So, how much is a big toe?

Sometimes I just HATE being right. A few months back, several of my co-workers were very excited about getting together to go see the "BodyWorlds" exhibit then in town. Fascinating! A great chance to learn. Yes, well, I will admit to learning a thing or two while watching, "The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover". Not that I'd recommend it. I wouldn't recommend "BodyWorlds" either.

There is something to be said for the "ewww" factor that makes us recoil at certain things - dead bodies on display for your viewing pleasure being one of those things. But we are so very deadened, many of us don't even recognize the tiny whisper of an "ewww" any longer. Christianity has always held a respect for the human body and while some still object to autopsies for the sake of medical students learning anatomy, most of us would agree that putting plastinized bodies on public display is just plain wrong. It's disrespectful, its voyeuristic.

Now I know this isn't a full-fledged argument, it's merely a reflection, a caution. I have found the exhibits disturbing since the first time I heard about them. I just didn't trust a man who would make a fortune in this way. And where, so many ask, did he get the bodies? According to this story, some of them were Chinese prisoners, as the speculation had run. Not only that, but a German exhibition of the bodies included poses of corpses in flagrante. Which is why I hate being right sometimes - the whole project always struck be as being akin to necroporn.

But now the corpses are for sale. A head goes for approximately $35,000, an entire body for nearly $100,000. No need to worry. Mr. von Hagen protests that only, "scientists and medical experts" will be "eligible" to buy them.

The Year of Living Dangerously

After an email conversation with a friend whose advice I always respect, I've decided to embark on the project of following Rachel Held Evans', "Year of Biblical Womanhood". I'll admit here at the outset that I don't hold out much hope for the project looking anything like orthodox Christianity or that it will change Mrs. Evans' view on womanliness. I say this because, as a friend noted over on FB, it's rather odd that a professing Christian can present living biblically as an experiment to be engaged in for a year.

This is why her project is so very dangerous. It's not simply the mocking video she put out to announce the project. It's not the Chinese-menu approach to Christianity. It's not her skepticism about "biblical womanhood". What makes her project so very dangerous is that she announced it this way, "Starting this month, I will commit one year of my life to following all of the Bible's instructions for women as literally as possible." If this is what she admits the Bible teaches, why is it a one-year experiment? Why isn't it the aim and focus of her life if she truly seeks to follow Christ?

She says there will be no picking and choosing, but then immediately launches into the picking and choosing. Polygamy is out. No real problem there, polygamy was never an "instruction" in the first place. But being fruitful and multiply? As to the first "instruction" given woman (Man, if you will)? That's out. As to exemplars or archetypes such as the Proverbs 31 woman? Oh, baby, that's in with a vengeance. So the year of living biblical womanhood seems to come down to what she wants to ridicule, such as head coverings and homemaking skills but things that may actually change her life and her heart? Nope. Not having a bit of it. And never mind that she is only following some of these instructions just once, not the whole year, just once.

Since Mrs. Evans has already stacked the deck, from her enthusiastic embrace of the secular feminist movement (see here ), to her intention to explore "the dark underbelly" of biblical womanhood in which, according to her, it is taught that there is only one "right way" to be a woman (see the same page) all the way to her proposed Table of Contents in which Modesty is described as "Good Deeds in a Size 10", it's clear which way this project is heading. Never any mention of a "dark underbelly" to feminism. Hah!

But this shouldn't surprise us if we know anything about young "Emergents" like Mrs. Evans. Though a reliable source tells me the emergent movement has been dead for years, just last year Evans was lamenting this declaration of death on her blog with the declaration that, "some of us are still talking". Not only does she describe herself as part of the "emergent conversation", she is also a proponent of theological Darwinism. From her "About the blog" section:

Charles Darwin said that the survival or extinction of an organism is determined by its ability to adapt to its environment. I think faith operates the same way. Changes in the environment -- be they cultural or experiential -- test the resilience of our faith and challenge us to rethink our most fundamental beliefs and values.

That's what this blog is about. It's about how faith survives by continually changing*. Its purpose is to reassess the fundamental elements of Christianity in the context of a postmodern environment. . . my insights coming from a small town famous for its fundamentalism, yours coming from wherever you may be.

I believe that knowing the answers isn't as important as asking the questions, and that following Jesus Christ is a lot less about being right and a lot more about, well, surviving. . .

Surviving, adapting and changing. That's the vision of "christianity" presented by Rachel Held Evans. Is it any wonder I'm as skeptical of her as she is of biblical womanhood?

*Emphasis in the original

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Talk about your mint and cumin!

Thomas Nelson publishers must be desperate for books to publish. Honestly, that's the only excuse I can think of for encouraging this project. Unfortunately, Mrs. Evans seems to have a selectively edited copy of the Bible. She's taking that "infamous" chapter at the end of Proverbs as a command, rather than an example while ignoring the bits about having a gentle and quiet spirit.

Sorry, Rachel, but mocking aprons and headcoverings should have no part of your year of living out "biblical" womanhood.

Year of Biblical Womanhood

Sunday, October 10, 2010