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Horror, Sorrow, and Anger

Up until a few days ago, I had never heard of Sandy Hook Elementary School.   Now, like just about everyone else in the world who has access to the news, I’ve become intimately familiar with the name.  I don’t know what to say about the massacre; the horror and sorrow I’m feeling – the sadness I can’t seem to shake – isn’t unique.  Anyone with a child – or a heart – is reeling.

flag_half_staffI have not talked to my kids about what happened, with the exception of Kevin, and to him only briefly.  On Friday, I lowered the flag in our front yard to half staff, and when the kids got home from school, they wanted to know why it was lowered.  I told them that we do that to honor people who have died, and they wanted to know who had died.  “Some people far away in a different state,” I told them.  How can I tell my kids that someone went into an elementary school and gunned down teachers and little children?  At almost 16, Kevin wasn’t satisfied with that explanation, so I told him briefly what happened in Connecticut, but I couldn’t even finish without having to swallow back tears.

I have refused to read any articles or watch any news segments about it – what’s the point?  Nevertheless, it’s impossible to sign online without seeing headlines: “NEW CHILLING DETAILS EMERGE” and “VICTIMS’ FAMILIES REACT” and “PROFILE OF A KILLER” and “FUNERALS SET FOR THREE OF THE VICTIMS.”  Words like “pimp” and “ratings” come to mind.

We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who
Comes on at five
She can tell you ’bout the plane crash with a gleam
In her eye
It’s interesting when people die-
Give us dirty laundry

Dirty Laundry, Don Henley

I don’t want to know the details.  I don’t want to see the photos of the sweet, smiling faces of those little boys and girls whose lives were so ruthlessly cut short.  And I’ll tell you: if I were any of their parents, I think having the details and photos splashed relentlessly across every news outlet would be the last thing I would want.  Even reading the headlines makes me feel like a voyeur.  Is the media just filling a demand?  Are we the people just feeding the media machine with our morbid curiosity?  If all the coverage promotes meaningful discussion about the underlying issues and encourages people to lobby for change with regard to gun control and how we approach mental illness, then perhaps it will have been a positive force.

We let those teachers and kids down.  We as a nation value our personal freedoms more than we value other people’s very lives.  We are a nation in shock and mourning now after Friday’s horror, but it wasn’t the first school shooting here in the US – although it perhaps claimed the youngest victims.  Mall shootings and school shootings seem to be gaining popularity – and this kind of thing doesn’t happen in other civilized countries.  How many mall shootings, how many school shootings, how many people have to be senselessly murdered before we take a good hard look at the way we do things here and make meaningful changes?

“Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?”

– President Obama

The religious rhetoric is everywhere.  I understand that people take comfort where they can, and it’s in the face of tragedy like this that, I suppose, the appeal and attraction of God and religion are at their most powerful, but if we lull ourselves with dreamy images of children running to Jesus and playing in paradise forevermore, we are doing nothing but living with our heads in the clouds, and effectively trivializing what happened.  In effect, these fairy tales justify what happened, and they don’t encourage meaningful dialogue about important issues.

It’s starting to feel dangerous just to be alive.  I don’t want to live in fear, but it’s hard to not walk around without at least a vague sense of apprehension.  I deeply hope that this latest tragedy brings about meaningful change; if it doesn’t, then all those little lives cut short will really have been for nothing at all.

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Faith Doesn’t Work For Everyone

In the wake of a local teen’s sudden death last week, there has been much talk in the community about faith.  We live in an especially conservative, predominantly Christian part of California, so it’s not all that surprising that most of the people impacted by this tragedy, directly or indirectly, are Christians, or that they are turning to their faith to cope.

A few days after he died, I ran into a friend at the store.  She and I have forged a somewhat tentative friendship – tentative because her Christian faith is so much a part of her, and my unbelief flies in the face of that.  It’s hard to find common ground when one of us knows the other is praying for her soul, and the other knows that the beliefs she holds dear are thought of as delusional.  We’re both moms, so that’s our common ground, but even in that there are wide differences in how we each approach it based on our spiritual status.

Anyway, she is close friends with the mother of the boy who died.  When we ran into each other at the store, she said that the family is coping as well as could be expected, and are definitely being buoyed by their faith.  She then relayed to me how – understanding that I don’t believe – faith has carried her through some very difficult times in her life.  She told me how there have been some particular instances during which she was filled with peace when she didn’t think she should have had peace, and that was evidence to her of God’s presence, and it affirmed her faith.

As she was telling me this, I was reminded of another friend of mine whose little boy died in a tragic accident a number of years ago.  She was a devout Christian, and she counted on one of the promises of Christian faith that God would walk with her through the difficult times and offer her comfort and peace – only to find that in her darkest hours, she didn’t feel the comfort or peace of God’s presence at all.  She wrote about it here.

I think back on my own life and the many dark times I’ve gone through – times of loss, of suffering.  I was a believer through most of it – it’s only been the last five or six years that I’ve let go of the faith I carried around with me from the time I was a child.  My faith never lent me peace or comfort.  In my darkest hours, I didn’t feel God’s presence – I felt utterly alone.  In my darkest hours, my faith led to more tormented thoughts than anything (Why was God allowing a man to beat the crap out of me and emotionally torture me?  Could my dad possibly go to heaven if he wasn’t a believer?)

So how do the believers reconcile this?  Why do some believers feel God’s presence and the peace and comfort that goes with that, and other believers – just as pure (or unpure) of heart and soul – don’t when they should?  Are they doing faith wrong?  Are they just not as favored by God?

I can’t deny that the peace and comfort that those select believers feel when they need to feel it is very real to them.  But it also can’t be denied that not everyone – not even every faithful person – enjoys that benefit of faith.

These are just some of the reasons I don’t believe.

 

Life, Death, and Faith

My heart is heavy today.  The older brother of a classmate of my twins died very suddenly yesterday.  I learned about it on Facebook (what a world we live in!); details are still emerging, but apparently it had something to do with his heart, and although I’m not sure, what I’m gathering is that he was not known to have had a heart condition, so it makes the shock of someone so young and apparently vital dying all the more unsettling.  He was 14 years old.

I do not know the family.  I know the little girl in Daisy and Annabelle’s class by sight, and her mom and I exchange greetings when we pass each other on the way to or from school, but that’s the extent of it.  So I can’t stake a claim of personal grief – and yet, hearing about anyone losing a child brings on grief, doesn’t it?  It is unfathomable to me what this family must be experiencing right now.  I asked Kevin if he knew the boy, because although they attended different high schools and were a grade apart, they would have attended elementary school together.  Kevin didn’t know him, but when I told him what happened, he said, “Let’s be thankful that everyone in our family is alive and healthy.”  He’s right, of course.  And yet, to think that, to feel that, feels cheap in a way.  As if to say, “I’m thankful that happened to someone else and not us.”  To believe that somehow, fate has favored us above them.

Inevitably, sentiments of faith are being expressed on Facebook regarding this tragedy.  The faithful believe that he’s with Jesus now, that he’s in a better place, that God needed him more than his family did.

The usefulness of faith is perhaps never more apparent than in times of grieving.  Holding onto such beliefs offers comfort in a time of great turmoil and pain.  If one really believes those things – that there is a better place after this earthly life, that a wise and merciful god is merely carrying out his divine plan – it can dull the pain of astounding loss.  It can make it all seem as if there is a good reason behind it – a purpose.  And the faithful are comforted also  by the belief that they will one day meet their loved one again in the Great Beyond.

But faith has another side to it.

When my dad died almost fourteen years ago – I was still a believer then – I agonized for months about where my dad’s soul had ended up.  He was agnostic, and to my knowledge, never “accepted Jesus Christ as his savior,” and so, based on what I was taught, his soul must have gone to hell.  Images of torture and fire and eternal cries of agony tortured me.  On the other hand, I had also been taught that God is compassionate and merciful, and so I argued with myself, “God loves everyone, he wouldn’t send someone to hell who was, underneath many flaws, a decent human being.”  And so I tried to believe that Dad went to heaven.  I went back and forth for a long, long time.  It was probably one of the more painful aspects of losing my dad so suddenly – the not knowing where he ended up.  Finally, I decided that of course he went to heaven.  Because that’s what I needed to believe to get through the grief and go on.  I would see him again one day after my earthly life was over, and that was all there was to it.  Because I needed to believe that, I could adjust my beliefs accordingly.  Faith seems to work that way.

I look back on that time now and feel something close to anger and disgust that I had to expend so much energy and time worrying and agonizing over the final resting place of my dad’s soul – all thanks to my faith, which had mostly been spoon fed to me.

We are all born and we all die, and between being born and dying, we all experience sorrow and loss and pain, as well as joy.  That is the natural order of things – that is life.  It seems that, were there any fairness at all though, no parent should ever have to bury a child.  That seems atrociously unfair and unnatural.  And yet, it happens all the time, all over the world.   So we try to make sense of it the best we can, and we take comfort wherever we can.

 

“See You At the Pole” and Other Nonsense

So, Joey, age 10 and in fifth grade, comes to me yesterday afternoon and tells me, “Mom, I wish I hadn’t gone to school early today.”  See, he’s walking to and from school on his own this year, and he likes to get to school early in the morning – well before the bell rings – so he can have a little time to chitchat with his friends and play handball.  “Why?” I asked.  “It was Pray At the Flagpole Day, or something.  All these people were at the flagpole praying and talking about God and stuff.”  I have to say that I was quite taken aback.  I have a vague recollection of a friend mentioning something like this happening on her kids’ school campus a couple years back, but it kind of went in one ear and out the other.  “What did you do?” I asked Joey.  See, at 10 years old, Joey is a self-proclaimed Atheist.  Now, you might think I would be thrilled about this, but the truth is, I think 10 years old is far too young to identify oneself with any degree of certainty as anything ideologically or politically.  It takes a certain amount of maturity and worldliness to make up one’s mind about such things.  Be that as it may, however, at this point in time, Joey is sure that he doesn’t believe in God, and he calls himself an Atheist.  So I wondered what he did when he came upon this gathering at the flagpole – which, by the way, is the spot specifically designated for the school kids to remain at until fifteen minutes before the bell rings in the morning, as there is no supervision on the playground before then.  “I wanted to turn around and come back home for a while,” Joey said, “but I thought people would notice me and think I was being disrespectful, so I just stood away from all of them.”

This whole conversation prompted me to Google “prayer at the flagpole,” and all kinds of sites came up with information about the official event, “See You At the Pole.”  I had no idea that this was a movement on such a large scale, or that it takes place every year on a designated date.  I am flabbergasted.  And honestly, pretty appalled.

I understand that this is a Free Speech issue, that it is NOT sponsored or endorsed by the schools themselves, and that it’s been challenged through legal avenues (thank goodness there are other parents out there who are also appalled).  I have to ask, though: WHAT IS THE POINT?  Seriously.  What is the point of this whole event?  What is the purpose, the intent?

Wikipedia states that it was started in 1990, in part, because “some Christians see public schools as hostile to Christian students.”  REALLY?  Why, because public schools try to uphold the whole Separation of Church and State thing?  Because religious instruction has no place in public education?  That’s hostile?  You people already get your Released Time Christian Education, which is also total bullshit – if you’re intent on giving your kids religious instruction, do it on your own time!

I truly do not get the point of this See You At the Pole nonsense, except to create a public spectacle to – what?  Garner sympathy?  Recruit new Christians?  If prayer really works, then it will be just as effective done in private.  What is it about gathering publicly in a location where there is sure to be a captive (and in at least some cases, unwilling) audience?  Do Christians believe that this scores them bonus points with the Big Guy?  If it’s a matter of just rejoicing in the Lord, that, too, can be done just as passionately and effectively in private – or heck, do it in someone’s front yard!  Why public schools, though?

And don’t give me this crap that it’s “student led.”  Bullshit.  Especially at the grade school level.  There are adults organizing this and encouraging this, and if you tell me any different, you’re lying or completely naive.

My real question, and my real beef is this: why are Christians so intent on making their religion part of the public realm?  I know you guys think you’re members of The One And Only True and Real Religion and that everyone else needs to see the light like you have, but you do know that members of every religion think that, right?  Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Christian Scientists, you name it.  They all think they’re right.  And since nobody can agree, religion in its entirety, and in all its forms, should remain out of the public sphere.

The United States of America is not a Christian nation, nor was it founded on Christian values.  It is a secular nation, and although many of its founders may have been Christian, they understood the absolute necessity of creating a secular government and keeping Church and State separate.

I understand that Christians have a right to engage in See You At the Pole, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

But, hey, in the interest of fairness, I’m thinking about encouraging my Muslim friends to have their kids congregate on public school campuses nationwide to express their religious beliefs.  And while I’m at it, I think I’ll get all my Atheist friends’ kids together to gather at our local public schools to deliver lectures about evolution and the Big Bang Theory and how nobody can even prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that some guy named Jesus Christ ever lived.

Everyone’s cool with that, right?

What the Cluck?

I know this whole Chick-fil-A thing has been done to death on the news, on Facebook, on blogs – everywhere.  I even overheard a conversation about it at the nail salon today.  So, although I doubt I have anything to say about it that hasn’t already been said, I wouldn’t be a responsible blogger – now would I? – if I didn’t touch on this topic.

I’m sick to death of hearing that those of us who are choosing to boycott Chick-fil-A are “intolerant.”  Intolerance, as the term is used with regard to prejudice and discrimination, involves marginalizing and demeaning individuals or entire classes of people based on things like ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or religious affiliation.  Intolerance in the true sense is an attempt to rob someone of their basic human rights (including their right to be treated with respect, dignity, and compassion).  Boycotting a company is NOT a form of intolerance.  It is, rather, a form of peaceful protest – a way to say, “I do not support your position and will not contribute my hard-earned money to a company that stands for something I find abhorrent.”

And that’s what it boils down to in this whole Chick-fil-A debacle: the company stands for something I find abhorrent – intolerance of gays all wrapped up in pretty Christian values.

Now, there are those who say, “But it’s just a difference of opinion!  So, you’re going to shun Chick-fil-A because the CEO has a different opinion from yours?”  No, actually.  I can accept and even respect people having opinions and entire belief systems that differ from my own.  What I can’t get down with is when those opinions and beliefs are imposed on others, when they are used in an attempt to rob other people of basic human rights.  What I can’t get down with is the fact that Chick-fil-A feels so strongly about “the biblical definition of marriage” that it contributes portions of its profits to organizations that seek to marginalize, demean, and otherwise fuck gays over.  I won’t contribute to that, I won’t.  And if that makes me intolerant, it only makes me intolerant of intolerance.

Dan Cathy can hold whatever convictions he wants, and he can even shake his fist and say that supporting same-sex marriage is “inviting God’s judgment.”  That’s his right as an American citizen.  But he – and all the other fist-shaking Christians – needs to accept that not everyone shares his convictions, and that other people are, in fact, just as steadfast in their beliefs as he is in his.

America is not a Christian nation.  It’s a melting pot of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and yes, even Atheists.  To try to force everyone to live by Christian standards (and even those vary from Christian to Christian) is positively unAmerican.

So take your chicken, Chick-fil-A, and cluck off.

Faith and Disability – Blog Hop!

I am, as many who have been reading my blog for any length of time know, atheist.  This seems to be somewhat unusual in general – at least in my community where Christianity runs rampant – and even more so in the Down syndrome community I have become a part of online since Finn was born almost four years ago.

Click the photo to see what other bloggers have to say about this topic

I grew up Lutheran . . . whatever that means.  My mother took me and my brothers to church sporadically.  My dad never, ever went with us.  He was, I believe, agnostic, and also being the ’60s throwback rebel that he was, he made plenty of irreverent jokes about the “Jesus freaks” and the “Holy rollers.”  In any event, Christianity did not play a huge part in my upbringing – and yet, I grew up with steadfast beliefs: that it went without question that God existed, and that he watched my every move (and I had plenty, therefore, to feel guilty about), that I must confess all my sins daily via prayer (most nights while I prayed, my mind would wander and I’d inevitably fall asleep mid-prayer, which necessarily had to be added to the running list of “sins” I must confess the next night), and that even so, on Judgment Day, I would have to stand and face God and answer for every single wrong deed or thought I had ever committed in life.  I don’t remember ever getting any sense of comfort from my beliefs.  Sure, there was the promise of the afterlife, but one wrong move could land me in the fiery pits of Hell, and even if I ended up in Heaven, the idea of eternal life – even in paradise – freaked me the hell out.

In my adulthood, I tried a number of different churches, trying to find a sense of belonging, searching for that special something that would fill the void I carried around inside of me (the void I later realized was depression).  I never found it, and in fact, eventually abandoned organized religion altogether, so appalled and offended I was at the hypocrisy and judgment of these mere mortals (“Love your neighbor . . . homosexuality is sinful . . .”).  Still, I clung to my fundamental beliefs, insisting that one could have a relationship with God without being part of some man-made religion.

Eventually, though, my beliefs began to fall away.  I had always had questions that I mostly just swallowed, but there came a time when, on some subconscious level that I only recognized later, I began to allow the questions to take shape, and I began to explore them, believing, I think, that whatever faith I had might be made stronger by being put to the test of rigorous questioning.  It didn’t, however.  The more questions I had, the less sense the so-called answers made, the more it all began to resemble folk stories, myths, and fairy tales, with no substance to back it up.

It was a process.  I went from calling myself a Christian, to then agnostic.  But even that felt dishonest – it wasn’t really that I wasn’t sure.  Finally, only about five years ago, I let go and called myself atheist.  I don’t believe that any god or divine force exists.  I don’t believe there is anyone or anything looking out for any of us.  I don’t believe there is any afterlife; while I do believe in the “soul” in the sense that every person has an “essence” that makes them them, I don’t believe in a soul that is separate from or survives the body.  When you’re dead, you’re dead.

And you know what?  When I finally allowed all those old beliefs to fall away, I felt a weight lifted.  I felt free, and at peace.  And I realized that this life – this one life I have to live – is even more precious than I had thought before, because it’s all I’ll get.  Those feelings of peace and liberation remain with me today.

So how does this all play out in raising a child with a disability?

Everyone approaches parenting – of any child, with or without disabilities – from the perspective of whatever beliefs and philosophies they hold.  I’m no different.  My perspective just seems to be different from a lot of people’s when it comes to matters of faith.

The religious, I have found, seem to have a need to find divine meaning in things.  Many believers in the Down syndrome parenting community believe that God has given their child to them – specially chosen – to teach them some great lesson, or to use as a tool to teach other people some great lesson.  Some believers believe that having a child with Down syndrome is a special blessing; other Christians believe it is a punishment on the parents for unrepented sins.  Some of these views infuriate me because of their dangerous ignorance.  Some irritate me for the same reasons that many Christian views irritate me – views that have nothing at all to do with disability, but rather a propensity to foist one’s beliefs on others.

As soon as Finn was born, I felt bombarded by Christian sentiments.  “Do you have the Lord?” I was asked.  (As if “having the Lord” was necessary to cope with the awful tragedy of having a child with Down syndrome.)  “God never gives us more than we can handle,” I was told.  (An empty platitude if I ever heard one; plenty of people can’t handle, as it turns out, what life throws at them – that’s why there is suicide.)  “God gives special children to special parents,” I heard over and over.  (Really?  Even in Eastern Europe, where babies born with Down syndrome are still routinely institutionalized?)

Bah!

Life is random, that’s what I believe.  Nobody and no thing is in control behind the scenes – and that realization allows me the freedom to accept Finn without the weight of anger at some divine entity for burdening my son with a disability, and without the sense that I am expected to utilize Finn to get some dogmatic message across to anyone.  I believe that sometimes, in the dance between egg and sperm, in the delicate division of cells and chromosomes, something out of the ordinary happens, and a child like Finn results.  Life and parenting themselves provide innumerable opportunities for growth, for soul-searching, for learning profound lessons; there is no need to attach anything divine to it.  We can take whatever meaning we choose from every single experience we have.

My faith lies in science – to better understand Down syndrome – and all other disabilities – from a clinical standpoint, so that individual lives might be better lived.  My faith lies in humanity, and people’s ability to see beyond outward appearances, to embrace diversity, tolerance, compassion, and inclusion.

Let’s Take God Out of the Equation. Please.

I started the guest post I wrote for A Perfect Lily last week, It’s About Wanting a Baby, with this line:

“It’s not about God, or what the Bible says . . . because not all of us believe in God or are swayed by the Bible.”

I wrote that because I have noticed that so many important social issues are discussed within the framework of faith and religious belief, and I really believe that in so doing, huge sectors of potential audience are alienated.

We need to take this discussion about prenatal screening, about termination of pregnancies, about the sanctity of human life, out of the arena of Christianity.  The fact of the matter is that not everyone is Christian, and basing arguments about such important issues in Christian beliefs shuts out and turns off anyone who doesn’t share those Christian beliefs.

You may believe that by invoking God and the bible into your arguments, you’re being a good Christian, you’re being true to your beliefs, you’re scoring points with the Big Guy and earning your place in Heaven – but I can tell you as someone from the other side of Christian belief that it’s just not the way to win friends and influence people.  At least not the people you really want to influence: those who are on the other side of a very polarized debate.  Sure, your like-minded Christian friends may appreciate your arguments, but they don’t need convincing, do they?  That’s just the choir you’re preaching to.

Now, it just so happens that as the mother of a little boy who has Down syndrome, I’m appalled and even somewhat personally pained over the reasons people tend to abort if they find out they’re carrying a fetus with Down syndrome.  It hurts, because collaterally, it’s a statement about how my son is viewed: as a mistake, as someone most other people wouldn’t want, as someone most people think shouldn’t have been born.  I believe that the reasons behind the majority of the abortions based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are misinformed and misguided, and I’m completely in favor of educating people about the realities of Down syndrome in an effort to decrease the termination rate and in an effort to allow Finn to grow up in a world that values him instead of pitying him or marginalizing him.

But it has nothing to do with God.  And when people try to encourage acceptance of Down syndrome by saying things like “They’re God’s perfect angels,” or “God made them exactly how they’re supposed to be,” or “God doesn’t make mistakes,” or “They’re God’s gifts, sent here to teach us blah blah blah,” or “ABORTION IS MURDER!  ABORTION IS A SIN!  ABORTION LEAVES GOD BROKENHEARTED,” well, I just want to scream.  Because those statements don’t resonate with me, and I’m sure they don’t resonate with a whole slew of other folks, either – many of whom are the very people who we’d like to see Down syndrome in a new light.  Possibly people who are grappling with a brand new diagnosis of Down syndrome and wondering what the heck to do.  Throwing God at them isn’t going to help.

Framing the discussion in human terms based in fact – that’s what helps.

We are a society of diversity – diverse ethnicities, diverse cultures, diverse socio-economic positions, diverse philosophies, and diverse beliefs.  Not everybody is a Christian.  I know it hurts to hear that, but it’s true.  And the truth is, in order to unify discussions, God has to be taken out of the equation.

Let’s Talk About What Pro-Choice and Pro-Life Mean

I’m growing a little weary and frustrated at this perception by those who hold themselves out to be “pro-life” that those of us who are pro-choice are somehow morally inferior, and that “pro-choice” can pretty much be interchangeable with “pro-abortion.”

Being “pro-life” does not exist in a vacuum; being pro-choice certainly does not exclude choosing life.  There are many, many, many people who hold themselves out to be staunchly pro-choice (like me) who value life – yes, even life of the unborn – who might never choose abortion for themselves.  I don’t “choose choice over life”; it is entirely possible to be in favor of both choice and life.

It’s about believing in everyone’s fundamental right to choose for themselves.  It’s about believing that every woman deserves to have control over her body, over the decisions that concern her body.  Am I in favor of every choice people make?  No.  Some choices people make, and the reasons behind those choices, make me absolutely heartsick.

Being pro-choice means understanding that I don’t walk in anyone’s shoes but my own.  It means that I understand that I have no right to impose my beliefs on somebody else when I cannot possibly know their life circumstances, their values, their mental or emotional or financial state – and I have no right to hold my values out to be superior to theirs.

God is pro-choice, Baby.  If you’re inclined to believe in God, that is (and if you’re pro-life, I’m thinking this is a pretty good assumption).  That’s what the all-important free will is – choice.  Even God’s not willing to take that away.

All I can hope for as someone who is pro-choice is that people make their choices based on good information.

But they don’t always.  I know that.

If I can help to change misconceptions that often lead to choices that might have been different?  I’m all for that.  That’s advocacy.

As for being pro-life: it shouldn’t stop at being against abortion.  As one of my favorite bloggers wrote:

“To me, being prolife means you ‘do things to give a person all the life to which he or she is entitled.'”

It means supporting programs that will help all those babies you don’t want to see aborted actually live healthy, quality lives.  It means putting your money where your mouth is.  It might even mean considering adopting one of those babies you don’t want to see aborted.

Otherwise, it’s just lip service.

I Get Around

I am very honored that I have been asked to post as a guest blogger on two different blogs recently.

I was asked to share my experience breastfeeding a baby with Down syndrome over on Down Syndrome New Mama; last week I shared our story, and this week Part II has been posted which talks about tips and advice to deal with hurdles commonly associated with breastfeeding a baby with Down syndrome.  Down Syndrome New Mama is such a great resource of information for new parents of babies with Down syndrome, and it’s my hope that some expectant or new mom out there will find some encouragement in breastfeeding her little one.

***

With the recent introduction of new prenatal screenings aimed at detecting Down syndrome in the first trimester of pregnancy, a vital discussion is taking place online about the ethics of the testing and the potential implications for the Down syndrome community and society as a whole.  Patti at A Perfect Lily has been running a series of posts concerning this topic, and has asked several people to write guest posts for her readers.  So much of the discussion about prenatal testing that is taking place everywhere on the internet seems to revolve around the pro-life vs. pro-choice debate, and for many, the answers to the questions are found in their religious beliefs.  My feeling is that this issue has very little to do with religion – or, rather, centering it on “God’s laws” only serves to alienate an entire potential audience.  Today, I share my perspective on Patti’s blog; I hope you’ll read it, think about it, and share it:  It’s About Wanting a Baby.  It was brave of Patti to feature a Heathen like me on her blog – thank you, Patti!

Next week, I’m hoping to write here on my very own blog a little more about discussions that center around God that shouldn’t.  Stay tuned.