Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, July 30, 2021

The Lotus-eater

“For my own part I reckon being ill as one of the great pleasures of life, provided one is not too ill and is not obliged to work till one is better. I remember being ill once in a foreign hotel myself and how much I enjoyed it. To lie there careless of everything, quiet and warm, and with no weight upon the mind, to hear the clinking of the plates in the far-off kitchen as the scullion rinsed them and put them by; to watch the soft shadows come and go upon the ceiling as the sun came out or went behind a cloud; to listen to the pleasant murmuring of the fountain in the court below, and the shaking of the bells on the horses' collars and the clink of their hoofs upon the ground as the flies plagued them; not only to be a lotus-eater but to know that it was one's duty to be a lotus-eater.”

—Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh, ch 80

Hearing I was sick in bed, a friend sent me this quote, an apt summation of my Thursday. Hapless and heavy, I lay propped up on pillows wishing I could nap, but at every turn sleep eluded me. Instead the sounds of family life downstairs washed over me, and I let people laugh or fuss without feeling any compulsion to respond.

The majority of my day was spent pleasantly, if fruitlessly, trying to track down a half-remembered phrase in Love and Responsibility. I remembered the wording, and I remembered where on the page it should appear, and at every turn I expected to see it before me. I also hoped Wojtyła's dense prose might put me to sleep at last. Instead I read the whole book from the middle to the end, and then from the beginning to the middle, and never found exactly what I was looking for. But I found much I wasn't looking for, and I count it time well spent. 

By dinner time I slugged downstairs, where the thermometer stubbornly refused to register above 98.1 no matter how hot I felt. But I'd stopped shredding tissues with explosive sneezes, and I was finally hungry. The kids were all ordered to put themselves to bed, which meant that one after another they came and flopped on me and fell asleep in in various configurations of arms and legs. And still I lay awake, after Darwin came and moved the pile of boys, after he'd read his book and drifted off, after the clock rolled 2:30 and I'd been awake for more than 24 hours. I drifted in and out of light maternal sleep, listening for the sounds of my oldest daughter coming in from her night shift. When I opened my eyes again, the hall light was off, and I knew she was home and in bed. And then, at last, once the family was at peace, I too could rest.

It is a strange and happy new world, where I can be an expendable presence for a day. My children are all old enough to scavenge food for themselves and each other. And my daughters were motivated to make the house presentable because someone was expecting a Gentleman Caller, another fun new phase of life. The chaos of a full house is muted for me, literally, because of the pressure in my ears, and so I exist at a slight remove from everyone in my lip-reading bubble. There is nothing on my calendar. And perhaps I will be able to nap this afternoon, and then what can man do against me? Nunc dimittis, Domine, at least for a few hours of repose.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

On My Bed I Remember You

 By 2AM everything had finally kicked in: the Mucinex for the drip and the cough and the Sudafed for the pressure and the breathing, and, mercifully, the Ibuprofen for the stabbing behind my eye. My pillow was finally comfortable, for the most part, and the blankets tucked in just so behind my back and under my rib cage. And freed from the fitful drowsing of the afflicted, my mind has taken flight despite all my weary efforts to recall it to sleep. 

On my bed I remember you, says the Psalmist. On you I muse through the night. He must have known, laying on his cot, the long mental gymnastics between first and second sleep. Last night, as I thought I was reading myself to sleep, I came across this line by St. Pope John Paul II in Love and Responsibility: "Man is a being condemned, so to speak, to create". Yes, I almost sobbed. Who will free me from this life of condemnation? To always be mentally creating: crafting snippets of dialogue into lapidary scenes that will never be played; developing lectures that will never be delivered, imagining futures that will never be lived and pasts that never were, editing blog posts that never make it to the page. When I wrote, I wrote this way, rewriting as I went, always finding a better way to phrase something or a new beat to explore, developing and redeveloping. Does everyone's mind not work this way? Always chipping away at some idea until it's mentally perfected, then setting it aside for the next thought to be tumbled and polished and set on the shelf?

God's very word creates; he speaks, and it is. In his mercy, he has not bestowed this power on us, who are too mentally fickle to always create what is good. Our thoughts are sometimes rich, sometimes petty; full of happy fantasy one moment and cruel speculation the next. But we are condemned, so to speak to create, and when we are most like God our creations are grounded in his reality. The most divine things we co-create are children: stubbornly real things who resist our efforts to mold them into our own image and likeness, being themselves made in the image and likeness of God. Our thoughts, not being humans, are not so graced, and must always be submitted to God. Take this thought from me, Jesus, I have often prayed, and give it back to me perfected in heaven. 

He gives gifts to his beloved in their sleep. How often a problem has yielded an unexpected solution after a night's sleep! And so as morning breaks I settle back down and fluff the pillow and tuck the blankets around me again, and trust that God will send sleep as he sends all blessings. On my bed I remember you. On you I muse through the night.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Kids Are Not All Right

 I've got a new data analysis piece up at The Pillar today looking at the demographics of religious belief and practice in the US based on data from the General Social Survey.

The biggest thing that surprised me as I dug into this data was that it did not primarily suggest individual people falling away from religious beliefs they had held for many years.  Rather, the story of American secularization seems to be a story of younger generations believing less than their parents and grandparents.  Some key stats:

For the last 30 years:
  • Just under 70% of Americans born in the 1920s and 1930s have said that they “know God exists.”
  • For the generations born from the 1940s-70s, the number is slightly lower, but an average of 60% also agree that they know God exists.
  • For those born in the 1980s, however, that number drops to 50%.
  • And for those born in the 1990s to 40% and falling.
  • Only the oldest of those born in the 2000s were old enough to participate in the 2018 GSS survey, but among that group, only 32% said they know God exists.

You can read the whole piece here.


Friday, July 23, 2021

Methods and Reasons in the Pillar Cell Phone Data Story

The Pillar Podcast just put up their latest episode, which provides answers to some of the questions that people have asked about the story which led to the resignation of the USCCB general secretary. Here are my notes from listening to it for those who don’t have the time.

They spend a bit of time explaining for listeners what the nature of the USCCB is and what the role of the General Secretary is in it.  The USCCB is mostly not responsible for setting policy and certainly not doctrine, but it does often issue guidelines and best practices. Recently many of those guidelines have related to how dioceses, parishes, schools, etc. should adopt practices to avoid sexual abuse. The General Secretary is described as being the day-to-day head of the organization, directed by the President, who is a bishop but spends most of his days running his diocese while the General Secretary is in the actual USCCB offices running things.  They compared the office of General Secretary to the CEO of a company, while the President is more like the chairman of the board.

They state that their data analysis was based on a broad dataset provided by a source which had legally purchased the data. The data did not provide names or phone numbers, it just gave locations, apps, and a unique id of sorts. The data included the use of a lot of different apps of different sorts, and whatever the motives of the person who gave them the data, they approached it looking for general trends not hunting for a specific person. 

As an aside (although I have published pieces at The Pillar, I had not involvement in this story and do not have any inside knowledge about its analysis) this is pretty much what I suspected.  Having worked with data vendors and marketing departments at large consumer product companies for much of the last ten years, I'm very familiar with this kind of data.  Most apps sell it (it's what in the terms of service you click to agree to without reading them) and it's used by marketers to do things like target ads towards people who live in Houston and have entered a Home Depot within the last three months. So marketers use it in the aggregate to identify groups of individuals they want to send ads to.  But there's no real reason the same data can't be used to identify a person based on where they've been as the NY Times did after Jan 6 in the story linked below.

After acquiring the data set, they say that their first move was to verify that it was legally acquired by the source and also to determine that the data was complete and what it purported to be. 

Ed pointed out that whenever a source provides information or data or a quote, there is always some reason for doing so. This is normal, and to a great extent not of interest unless it affects the veracity of the information. 

They pointed out this is not the first time journalists have analyzed data like this, a key example being the NYTimes story in which they traced some of the people who were at the storming of the Capitol to their homes.

JD stated that they had started very broadly looking to see what they could determine about the use of apps in the Catholic Church in relation to the Church’s efforts at reform 

As they were analyzing data in relation to Church related events, they noticed that a Grindr user seemed to keep showing up at events and places, the combination of which suggested this was some high USCCB official. 

They indicated that they had not come into this with a tip about the general secretary which they went to verify, but rather that they were looking to assess things in a wider way and saw this pattern jump out at them.

There was also significant discussion of why they believed this was news -- and why the particular nature of the general secretary’s role made this news in a way that the personal immoral behavior of some random priest or Church official would not. 

One thing they noted was that in addition to the fact that this was a very highly ranking cleric, with responsibility for (among many other things) helping to guide the formation of the Church's guidelines on questions such as how app usage by priests should be monitored or curtailed in a parish setting. Another is that Grindr itself has been a locus of a number of recent cases in the US and other countries of priests becoming sexually involved with minors.  In one recent case, the priest was not civilly charged, because the civil authorities determined that he had not known the person he made contact with via Grindr was in fact a minor. Thus, they said it was very much Grindr that was the key concern to them in terms of risk in relation to minors, not homosexuality in general.

There’s a lot of other material, dealing with questions and accusations made against them, but since I was primarily interested in the data questions I’ll direct you to the podcast to find out more about those. 

One other resource I'd direct you to is a very good piece which Brandon wrote over at Siris on the nature of detraction and its relevance to this particular news story.  A number of people have voiced concerns about whether running this story constituted detraction, and I think Brandon, as always, does a good job of looking at what precisely detraction is and how it would and would not apply.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

We Must Not Be A Church of Lies

 Yesterday, The Pillar published an investigative story about how the general secretary of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops had been actively using the hookup app Grindr for years even while holding positions with responsibility for forming and enforcing regulations for clergy relating to sexual abuse. The priest in question proceeded to resign, which was announced by the USCCB prior to the publication of The Pillar's report.

I would have thought that this would be a fairly straight-forward event. Goodness knows, as Catholics we have become accustomed in recent years to learning about the betrayals committed by our Catholic leaders. It seemed to me like another in a long line of sad cases in which we've learned that some prominent cleric was leading a double life -- advancing in the Church on the one hand, while frequently betraying his vows on the other.

What surprised me was that a number of people were angry not that the highest ranking non-bishop in the USCCB had been betraying his vows, but rather that a Catholic news venue had published it.

It's perhaps not totally surprising that Father James Martin, SJ immediately attacked the story as a "witch hunt" aimed at "vulnerable people working for the church".

It's rather more surprising that the integralist writers Adrian Vermeule and Sohrab Ahmari were in full agreement with him.

And then a Commonweal editor at large was playing the "you won't like where this goes" game:

I'm really kind of shocked by some of these takes.  I would have thought that after the McCarrick report, in which it was utterly clear that many, many people knew that McCarrick was constantly breaking his vows, but they all remained quiet about it because they didn't want the negative publicity and didn't know with certainty yet that he had done something which was technically illegal according to civil law -- I would have thought we as a Church were done with this conspiracy of silence. 

It would sadden but not at all shock me if it turned out that some prominent Catholic priest or bishop who's speaking or writing I like was living a double life.  I am under no illusion that sin and deception are an issue only with "progressive" clergy. And indeed, I have no idea what the politics or liturgical preferences of the former general secretary are. 

I do not understand the attitude of someone who would argue that Catholics should knowingly keep this kind of thing under wraps.  If (as some progressive Catholics seem to imply) it is impossible to populate the Church's leadership positions with people who do not flagrantly violate their vows by leading double lives, then frankly it is time that we all learned this is true.  Throw the windows open.  Let the air flow in.  For too many years the Church has tried to live on a foundation of comfortable lies.  

The problem is not that "everyone is a sinner".  Of course everyone is a sinner.  The problem is that when we have a Church that makes a habit of covering up for people who have a deeply ingrained habit of leading double lives, no one tells what they know.  Everyone believes everything is just a little bit fake.  No one knows who to trust.  And because everyone is covering up for everyone else's secrets, no one puts all the pieces together.  So the secrets of the priest with a wife and children on the side get kept.  The secrets of the priest cruising gay bars get kept.  And the secrets of the priest abusing children get kept.  No one wants their secrets revealed, and so all the secrets become a web of deception and it festers and destroys more lives.

The coverups have to stop.  The old boys network needs to stop deciding what gets shared and what gets swept quietly under the rug with a resignation or reassignment.  If the institutional church was going to police itself, it had the chance in 2018 and 2002 and so many times in the decades before.  

Friendship, in Perfectly Unpolished Harmony

 First, C.S. Lewis on Friendship: 

Lamb says somewhere that if, of three friends (A, B, and C), A should die, then B loses not only A but "A's part in C", while C loses not only A but "A's part in B". In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald's reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him "to myself" now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can they say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, "Here comes one who will augment our loves." For in this love "to divide is not to take away." Of course the scarcity of kindred souls -- not to mention practical considerations about the size of rooms and the audibility of voices -- set limits to the enlargement of the circle, but within those limits we possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share him increases. In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious "nearness by resemblance" to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah's vision are crying, "Holy, Holy, Holy" to one another (Isaiah VI, 3). The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.

...We think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting -- any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples "Ye have not chose me, but I have chose you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends "You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." The friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others. They are no greater than the beauties of a thousand other men; by Friendship God opens our eyes to them. They are, like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a good Friendship, increased by Him through the Friendship itself, so that is is His instrument for creating as well as for revealing. At this feast it is He who has spread the board and it is He who has chosen the guests. It is He, we may dare to hope, who sometimes does, and always should, preside. Let us not reckon without our Host.

Not that we must always partake of it solemnly. "God who made good laughter" forbid. It is one of the difficult and delightful subtleties of life that we must deeply acknowledge certain things to be serious and yet retain the power and will to treat them often as lightly as a game. ...For the moment I will only quote Dunbar's beautifully balanced advice: 

Man, please thy maker and be merry,/ And give not for this world a cherry. 

--The Four Loves 

This Saturday we had a group over to sing. Only one of us was professional; everyone else just liked making music. Most, but not all, could read music. Everyone had had some experience singing chorally, in various capacities. And we wanted to tackle the Biebl Ave Maria with our limited time. 

Someone pulled out a phone and recorded our last run-through, after an hour's practice. It's not perfect, listening to it objectively, but in the moment it was glorious. If I listen carefully, I can pick out almost every individual voice. There in the soprano of the quartet is Amy, with the teenage girls (Isabel, Clare, Lilliana, Annie). Alto is Mary, Eleanor, and Loriann, each voice unique enough that I can tell them apart. Tenor is Stephen booming away, Ryan holding the phone, and Brandon quietly supporting them. Bass is Will, solid but blending so well that I have to focus to hear his line alone. The trio is Anna, Liz, and Cat -- my sisters and me. Anna is the professional and soars ethereally, but Liz and I blend so well that I have to listen particularly for each line to know whose voice I'm hearing. The antiphons are Will, cut off on his first note; me, looking up from the music in the middle and losing the thread for a second, and Anna, who started on the second antiphon before remembering that we were at the third. Every little mistake and trip and lost harmony is precious, because it was part of the joy of the experience. And we nailed the last chord, which is all that matters. 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

History's Eddying Currents

 At the end of Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose, the main character returns to the monastery which was destroyed by fire, and searching among the ruins he collects a number of scraps of parchment from the books of the library, fragments of writing from the works that were lost.  

Along the return journey and afterward at Melk, I spent many, many hours trying to decipher these remains.  Often from a word or a surviving image I could recognize what the work had been.  When I found, in time, other copies of those books, I studied them with love, as if destiny had left me this bequest, as if having identified the destroyed copy were a sign from heaven that said to me: Tolle et lege.  At the end of my reconstruction, I had before me a kind of lesser library, a symbol of the greater, vanished one: a library made up of fragments, quotations, unfinished sentences, amputated stumps of books.

* * *

The more I reread this list the more I am convinced it is the result of chance and contains no message.  But these incomplete pages have accompanied me through all the life that has been left me to live since then; I have often consulted them like an oracle, and I have almost had the impression that what I have written on these pages, which you will now read, unknown reader, is only a cento, a figured hymn, an immense acrostic that says and repeats nothing, but what those fragments have suggested to me, nor do I know whether thus far I have been speaking of them or they have spoken through my mouth.  But whichever of the two possibilities may be correct, the more I repeat to myself the story that has emerged from them, the less I manage to understand whether in it there is a design that goes beyond the natural sequence of the events and the times that connect them.  And it is a hard thing for this old monk, on the threshold of death, not to know whether the letter he has written contains some hidden meaning, or more than one, or many, or none at all.

But this inability of mine to see is perhaps the effect of the shadow that the great darkness, as it approaches, is casting on the aged world.

Est ubi gloria nune Babyloniae? Where are the snows of yesteryear? The earth is dancing the dance of Macabre; at times it seems to me that the Danube is crowded with ships loaded with fools going toward a dark place.

This passage has been in my mind lately, as on several fronts I have thought about developments in our present world.

I used to have what is perhaps a young man's conviction that there were clear currents and directions to history.  The advent of modernity had released a good deal of error and chaos, but it seemed like institutions and movements I respected, from the Catholic Church to the conservative movement, had come up with answers to these errors and were making steady progress towards bringing goodness and order back to our culture. Sometimes, from a very short trend, it is possible to extrapolate a line in a way that is no longer possible as one sees more data points.  When you're young, you have fewer points, and it is far easier to extrapolate confident lines.

Within the political world, it seemed to me fifteen years ago like the paroxysm of war and dictatorships and communism from 1914 to 1991 (the short 20th century, if you will) had resulted in a wider understanding across the world of how nations should govern themselves.  

Within the Catholic Church, it seemed like the uncertainly and chaos resulting from the cultural and sexual revolutions of the 1960s coinciding with the attempt to prepare the Church to address the modern world via Vatican II, has being brought under control and from the ruins was rising a new and richer understanding and practice from the long papacy of John Paul II and then Benedict XVI.

Neither of these proved to be a trend of any long continuance.  

On the world stage, many old oppressive regimes such as communist China never fell, but transmuted into new forms, while in countries like Russia the initial promise of freedom collapsed into a strongman regime where rampant corruption had kept anything like a real democratic society or market economy from ever coming forth.  Within thirty years of the collapse of communism under its own contradictions, we see the younger generations longing for state socialism. Meanwhile our elites insist sex is only a construct but race is utterly essential to everyone's being and must be worked out through struggle sessions. The conservative movement in which I once placed so much hope has sunk into little more than a self destructive "own the libs" exercise.

Within the Church, the collapse in the broader practice of the faith continues, with fewer people getting married in the church or having their children baptized, while the struggle between aging progressive Catholics and younger orthodox ones has only splintered into more factions and more bitterness rather than fading into the building of a stronger, more missionary, and more beautiful Church.

And as years pass, I am more than ever convinced that this is as it has always been.  It is easy at any moment to imagine that it is clear what direction history is heading, but again and again come the reversals, the unexpected obstacles.

History is a long string of events.  Each has effects that change the course of events after.  But this does not mean that it is some long path leading in one direction.  The arc of history does not bend towards justice.  It just zigzags around.  

I'm sure that in Justinian's Constantinople it looked like, over massive obstacles, the Empire was coming together again.  The code of Roman law newly recodified by the emperor was setting things on a good foundation for the next five hundred years of Roman glory.  But five years after Justinian's death, Muhammad was born, and soon enough the wave of jihad would reduce the empire to a mere regional power.

And such reverses are not the exception but the rule.  

It is not history which is marching towards a clear end but each of us.  Each of our lives has a path, however wandering.  We are born, we grow up, we age, we die, we face our Maker.  There is a clear end to that path and a clear direction.  But history is the sum or countless lives, seething and interacting, helping and hurting, attracting and repelling.  No sooner do people latch on to some truth then they repel others with their enthusiasm.  No sooner is some evil corrected than its opposite evil is embraced.  

The human pendulum swings wildly around the golden mean, managing to miss it on every pass and careen off in some new direction.

The stories are worth knowing.  The way that people and movements and cultures interact and affect each other is worth knowing.  But it is no long march toward anything.

Friday, July 09, 2021

No, COVID Vaccines Are Not Causing First Trimester Babies to Miscarry

There's a meme going around claiming to summarize results from a New England Journal of Medicine study, and warning that receiving the COVID vaccines during the first trimester is causing 90% of pregnant mothers to miscarry.  However, this meme is based on a serious misunderstanding of the data.  I read the study (which you can find here), and here's what it really says.

The study, entitled "Preliminary Findings of mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine Safety in Pregnant Persons" examines data collected about women who both were enrolled in a pregnancy data program called the v-safe pregnancy registry and who also received the Moderna or Pfizer COVID vaccine during the study period of December 14, 2020 to February 28, 2021.  (Seeing as this was very early in the vaccination push, 94% of these were healthcare personnel.  Based on these criteria, the study identified 3958 subjects and then tracked their experiences to see if they had unusual side effects during the study period.

To understand how the meme appears to quote the study and yet is totally deceptive, we turn to Table 4 which records pregnancy loss and other neonatal outcomes.  Here's an image:

In the first line of the table, it notes that 104 out of 827 "completed pregnancies" ended in a miscarriage.  Then in a footnote, it says that 96 of the 104 miscarriages occurred during the first thirteen weeks of pregnancy.  This is where the meme gets the claim "827 women get the jab".  827 is not, however, the number of women who "get the jab" in the study.  827 is the number of women in the study who reached a "completed pregnancy" during the 2.5 month time period of the study.  Recall, a pregnancy lasts nine months, so it's not surprising that in a study lasting 2.5 month, only 827 out of 3958 women completed their pregnancy.  The other 3131 women were still pregnant at the end of the study.

This is also where the meme gets the numbers 104 and 96, but as we shall see, it misattributes what those numbers are.  104 is the total number of women who lost their baby to miscarriage.  It is not the number of women in the study who were in their first trimester when they received their vaccination.  Table 3 shows how many women were in each trimester at the time of vaccination.  The number of women who were in their first trimester when vaccinated was 1132.

The 96 number quoted in the meme is the number of miscarriages which occurred during the first trimester.  So to restate the meme with correctly identified data:

3958 women received a COVID vaccine (I refuse to use the odious phrase "get the jab".)  Of those 1132 were in the first trimester at the time of vaccination.  104 out of 3958 women (2.6%) suffered a miscarriage.  Of those 104, 96 were among the 1132 women vaccinated during their first trimester.  This means that the miscarriage rate for women vaccinated during their first trimester was 8.5%.  According to the Mayo Clinic, 10%-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage prior to 20 weeks, most of those during the first trimester, so that 8.5% rate is below average.  However, these women were mostly health care professionals, and so it's likely that they were getting better than average care.  I don't thin there's a reason to conclude that the COVID vaccine was associated with lower than average miscarriage, but there's certainly no reason to conclude it was associated with higher than average miscarriage.

And indeed, the study itself states it's conclusion as: 
Preliminary findings did not show obvious safety signals among pregnant persons who received mRNA Covid-19 vaccines. However, more longitudinal follow-up, including follow-up of large numbers of women vaccinated earlier in pregnancy, is necessary to inform maternal, pregnancy, and infant outcomes.

And this points us to the very mischievous thing which has been done by this meme.  It has taken real numbers from a real study that it cites, but it has presented them in a clearly misleading and false way.  I personally find it hard to see how the creator of this meme was not purposefully lying in order to deceive those who would be mislead by the citation of a real NEJM study into believing the alarming  claim that 90%+ of mothers receiving the COVID vaccine while in their first trimester of pregnancy were suffering miscarriages.

This is, to be blunt, a lie.  And if I am right that it was crafted intentionally to deceive others who would share it with only brief checks to see that there was indeed such an article, it is a very wicked lie crafted with the intention of misleading people to fear that the vaccine which is in fact likely to keep mothers and their babies safe would instead kill the baby in 90% of cases.

Please do not be deceived by this lie, and do feel free to share this when people share this deceptive meme.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Twenty Years and a Day

 Yesterday was our twentieth wedding anniversary.

Twenty years is a huge milestone -- two decades! -- and yet our day was so busy (as has been the week and the month and the year) that it was a real choice to celebrate the occasion. We've talked for years about taking a second honeymoon or even an overnight trip to mark twenty whole years, but now our two oldest girls are working opposite shifts, and the third is at camp this week, and the three middle kids had testing yesterday, and Darwin went in to the office (in the past that would be nothing noteworthy, but in these degenerate days it's an event)... 

The days are sometimes interminable, but the weeks and months and years fly by. The baby is turning four next week. Four! I've never had a four-year-old youngest before. The oldest is nineteen. Nineteen! I've never had a nineteen-year-old before. They are full of activity, and everyone in-between is full of activity. I myself am full of activity, more activity than I've been filled with in a long time. For so many years I was bone-weary with bearing children and caring for lovely little babies. I did not know until now how very tired I was. 

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. With all the good things the Lord has given to me of late (the chiefest being the grace of saying Morning Prayer every morning, something I'd wanted to do for years but never managed to accomplish), the thing that has been taken is my desire and need to write. My inspiration has... not dried up, but turned inward. I am in a stage of germination. Roots grow downward, but as yet no leaf has emerged. I am content to store these energies against the day of their flowering. But it does make for a boring blog. A cleared, plowed, sown field is a sign of work and potential, but it's not very exciting to look at. 

So here's something to look at: Darwins at 20. If our marriage has been a blessing to you in any way, give God glory and offer a prayer for his will always to be accomplished in us. And we pray the same for all of you.