I was recently talking with a friend of mine about the abortion legislation going through the Tasmanian Parliament this week. As it was, we were spending time with her horses – one of whom is pregnant at the moment. She made the observation that if she was to suddenly decide that she couldn’t afford to feed both the mother and the foal, or simply didn’t want to, many people would be horrified if she decided to have that pregnancy terminated. They would offer to take the foal, to prevent the abortion happening, right?
I’m looking at getting a dog some time soon. I figure now that I won’t worry about the expense of spaying her – why bother? If she does happen to get knocked up by one of the other neighbourhood dogs, I’ll just arrange to get her an abortion.
Sounds pretty callous, right?
Are you thinking I’m a bad person? Cruel, even?
I am livid, right now, that the Tasmanian Government lower house has decided to approve the passage of the abortion legislation. I am disgusted by the fact that they would treat a human life as just a medical condition.
This is what they are saying. Pregnancy? Nah, it’s no different to cancer, or a tumour. We’ll treat it – just cut it out of you.
(For the idiots who need this explained: I’m using an example, and not stating that I think all abortions literally involve ‘cutting out’ the baby. However, if you want some reading, try this link – but fair warning, this is pretty graphic in its descriptions. http://www.lifesitenews.com/abortiontypes/)
This is what the Tasmanian Labor Party and the Tasmanian Greens would have us believe – that pregnancy’s nothing more than a condition. It is nothing but a medical condition that needs treating or curing.
It makes me sick to think that we have a government in place in this state who gives so little value to human life.
And what’s even worse, is the attitude behind it – one that saw a huge number of people loudly calling against the passage of the legislation. This, unfortunately, I can’t blame just on people like Lara Giddings, Michelle O’Byrne, Nick McKim, Cassy O’Connor et al. It’s the greatest flaw of our Australian parliamentary system: Representative democracy – but only of those who agree with the elected official. Ignore the voices of the majority – the numbers I saw suggested an 80/20 split between those who called against passing the legislation and those who wanted to see it pass. Last I checked, 20% wasn’t a majority, but then, to the Greens especially, that 20% are the only voices worth listening to.
I can only pray that the Upper House in Tasmania have a stronger attitude, one where democracy and the requests, voices and wishes of the people who they are elected to represent, come above their own personal beliefs and attitudes.
Lara Giddings described children protesting against the legalization and government-sanctioning of murder and infanticide as abhorrent.
Ms Giddings, let me tell you what is abhorrent – the unjust, unmerciful murder of the most innocent parts of our society. You, and those in this government who ignored the people you are elected to represent, should be totally and utterly ashamed.
I read an interesting quote in a good friend’s blog earlier today:
Have you ever wondered why people will say they’re having a baby when they’ve been trying to fall pregnant and the pregnancy test comes back positive but when they’re having an abortion, it’s just a foetus? ~ Dermot Cottuli – “The Question No Pro-Choicer Will Answer”
Unlike the marriage debate, I haven’t probably been as vocal on the discussion raging around Tasmania recently since Michelle O’Byrne tried to introduce new abortion legislation. That’s not because I don’t have a view on it, but rather because it’s so much harder for me to tackle this issue from a purely intellectual point of view, which is where I like to take my perspective from as much as possible, especially when publicly vocalising it like I do in writing here.
But here I am, getting involved and putting forward my thoughts on this.
I know that I’m not a woman – I think that’s pretty clear, but just in case anyone needed clarification, I’m not. Therefore I’m not entitled to an opinion, right? Wrong. This is also my country. This is also my state. I plan on having children one day and what we do with our society now is going to be what impacts on them as they grow up. The world that I help to create is the world that my children, my nieces and nephews, your children will grow up in.
This is why I stand against it, because it’s not just about me – it’s about everyone. It’s about the world we create, the society we form and the legacy we leave for our children.
I don’t like, though, to say I’m standing against abortion. What I’m doing is standing for life. I loved a meme that I saw going around Facebook over the past few weeks, saying that we define the end of life being when the heart stops beating, then why do we not define the start of life as being when it starts beating?
As a part of writing this, I’ve just done some reading about the early stages of pregnancy. The baby’s heart starts beating at around 6 weeks – which is actually, apparently, only the four week mark after actual conception. The child is, at this stage, not even the size of the eraser on the end of a pencil, but it has a heartbeat, a brain, a nervous system and even the beginnings of facial features developing. This is four weeks after the conception.
Reading this just makes me realize how miraculous it is.
This is a life.
A friend and I were speaking recently, and she made the comment to me that when her parents realized she was sexually active, they simply confronted her with the question of, was she ready to have a baby?
Another friend commented on my Facebook post about how 12 year olds shouldn’t be protesting at anti-abortion rallies, because they are too young. Yet that same friend commented only minutes later that they would be providing information to children the same age on how to put on a condom to help curtail the potential spread of STIs. Nothing to do with the most important consequence of unprotected sex: the child.
This is such a deep topic, but ultimately it’s simple. A baby is a baby. I’ll say that again: A baby is a baby. That heart starts beating only four weeks after conception. At the moment of conception, that zygote has 46 chromosomes – it is a blending of the mother and father’s genes.
It is not an inconvenience. It is not a medical procedure. It is a responsibility.
We have a responsibility to our children, both now and in the future, to provide them with life, love, liberty and a legacy.
Wrong is wrong. As adults we like to muddy the waters, we like to create grey areas.
And just to conclude, I want to share one final thing. I have a very good friend who, several years ago, was the victim of rape. She fell pregnant; she carried the baby to term, birthed her and has raised her to be one of the most entertaining, beautiful children I know. When I asked her if I could share this story, she told me that, “I honestly feel God gave her to me as a testimony.”
The testimony of that great friend, and her amazing daughter, speaks so many more volumes to me on this topic than anything else.
A child is a gift, people. It is the most beautiful blessing that we can hope to receive. It’s not something to be taken lightly; it’s not something to be considered an inconvenience or an unfortunate consequence.
If you don’t want a child, don’t get pregnant. If you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex. It’s actually really simple.
I want to share something a great friend of mine put on their Facebook today:
Okay, I know very few read this but here you go. Marriage is preceded by monogamy. Marriage has many different definitions depending on where you were born, what culture you were brought up in and those around you. So in that respect Marriage is the ceremony that celebrates a monogamist couple. Monogamy is your own choice. Why is it now that we have to pass laws about a ceremony and recognition of someone’s choice of monogamy and who they choose to be with? Depending on your culture your answers will vary. All this is now is legislating love and we will continue to try and set rules and boundaries for ourselves just so that we can break out of the box, take the box down and put a new one in its place. That is how we all grow. Some boxes take longer to take down than others; some boxes still aren’t being taken down while others have already been demolished several times. When this has all passed, there will be a new crusade, and people fear for what it might include. Love is love. In the end, it is the love that matters and the laws that are for the people should be by the people. Not just by their representatives. ~ Dani Reimers
This is essentially the perspective that I’ve tried to get people to understand when I’ve been discussing the topic of marriage over the past year or two that it’s been at the forefront of the agenda. The problem isn’t with marriage itself; it’s with the definition of what marriage actually is. I wrote an article last year where I said that the biggest problem in this whole debate was that people were arguing over two sides of completely different coins.
And until we’ve got a clear definition of what we’re actually talking about, there’s no point continuing the debate. I’m serious, we might as well all pick up our bat and ball and go home, because there is absolutely no progress to be made without that first step.
Just like the two sides of different coins, we’re busy arguing about the dimensions and appearance of two different boxes, and neither side actually seems to be able to get that point.
The entire thing is only exacerbated by people with very little idea – and even less reason to be concerned – getting involved.
So just forget the boxes altogether. Instead of arguing over who should be allowed into which box, why don’t we just create a new one?
To do this, we first have to ask what is it that proponents of same-sex marriage actually want? A ceremony? A marriage certificate? A family?
None of this requires any change to legislation. Any couple can create a ceremony; they could even acknowledge the ceremony with a pretty sheet of paper that they sign. That couple can go out and have a family – whether by natural means, IVF, adoption or fostering. All of these actions are completely able to be done without any change to legislation. The only thing that requires a change in legislation is the legal recognition of a couple.
So why do we have a bunch of people screaming out about how all love is equal? As my friend said, love cannot be legislated – and certainly never should be legislated! Love has nothing to do with the law – and that’s whether you’re straight, gay, bi, polygamous or anything else. The fact that you love your partner isn’t going to be magically changed by the fact that you have a marriage certificate and some record in the local office of Births, Deaths and Marriages. That little record in that government office isn’t going to make any difference whatsoever to your love or your relationship. The only difference it makes is to the legal recognition of your relationship.
So this is my theory – create a new box. If you want, don’t even call it marriage. Call it the institution of… (scanning my desk for inspiration on a random word) The Institution of Chicken for all I care. All currently married heterosexual couples will have their marriages transferred to the Institution of Chicken, anyone who wishes to register their relationship with the Institute of Chicken gets the same legal rights as current heterosexual spouses get – and the same complications when you split up. If you choose to have a ceremony that demonstrates your commitment to one another, that’s fine, but it has nothing to do with the Institution of Chicken – the entire ceremony process is simply a private endeavour that you do or don’t choose to have.
This is, ultimately, what this entire debate comes down to – having a record in some government office that says yes, you’re in a relationship with this person – and having the state recognise your rights to one another as partners , spouses, husband and wife or whatever other term you choose to use.
Everything besides that government record is gravy, and is irrelevant to the change of legislation. You want to get married, but don’t care about that record? Go and do it!
Easter, Ostara, Ishtar and Jesus
Perhaps it’s just because the internet allows us access to so much more information than we ever had in the past, but it seems to be a much bigger thing of late to point out how the major Christian festivals are all of pagan origins, as if that somehow discredits them in some way. Coming up to Easter 2013, I’ve noticed the bandwagon getting a little more crowded than it has been in previous years.
The one that I’ve seen a couple of times so far, has been a depiction of the ancient Assyrian goddess Ishtar. This one’s actually slightly newer to me, last year I mentioned Ostara or Eostre, a may-or-may-not-have-really-existed goddess of German/Saxon religious origins.
Let’s just clarify one thing, though. It actually doesn’t matter which pagan deity you want to attribute it to, there are elements of pagan origins involved in the celebration of Easter.
There, I said it – and all the Christians gasped.
Frankly, with enough time and research put into place, I have no doubt that I could write a whole book on the origins of Easter. I’m not going to – at least not now, maybe one day. Instead, I just want to take a brief look at the overall topic.
Yes, there are probably pagan origins – although the fact that every ancient religion under the sun is trying to get in on the act kind of leads us to conclude that there’s no specific pagan festival that was actually the origin of the Easter celebration.
Most pagan religions held their celebrations to do with the time of year. Given that the most important element of these people’s lives was food and the harvest, it makes sense that they built their festivals around the cycle of life – and Spring is the time when seeds are being sown, winter is coming to an end and life is ‘renewing’ in its own sense. Most pagan religions (at least most that I’ve researched) held some kind of fertility festival at these times as a representation of the new life that came with the end of winter and the coming of the longer, warmer days ahead throughout Spring and Summer after the Spring equinox.
Bunnies and eggs, yes? Symbols of fertility and new life!
Just one thing – the egg tradition really doesn’t seem to have been a thing before Easter was recognized as a Christian festival. The origin of Easter eggs actually extends from the observance of lent leading up to Easter, where eggs were not consumed during those forty days of fasting. I’m yet to see any real evidence that suggests the practice of Easter Eggs was associated in any way with the pagan fertility festivals. Sorry, pagans, but it seems that you’ve stolen that one from the Christians, not the other way around.
Alongside these pagan festivals, though, is the observance of the Hebrew Passover. To give a brief rundown – the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, and after a series of plagues, the final step was for the angel of death to come and strike down every firstborn child in the land. With the blood of a lamb over their doors, the Israelites were saved and the angel of death ‘passed over’ their residences on this fateful night – Passover.
(A slightly rough explanation, but I’m trying to conserve my word count here!)
The Passover, though, was celebrated around about the same time as these Easter festivals, being tied also to the Spring equinox. One of the final things that Jesus did was observe the Passover with his disciples – in Christian terms, this is the event of The Last Supper. It was very shortly after this that Jesus was arrested and then crucified.
What this means for Christianity is that unlike the celebration of Christmas, which probably has no chronological relation to Jesus’ actual date of birth whatsoever, we have a pretty good reference point to say that Jesus was crucified not long after the Spring equinox.
What it doesn’t mean, is that Christians stole a pagan festival to attribute to Jesus.
My birthday’s November 25, and a friend of mine is born November 28 – so a couple of years ago we shared a birthday party. It made sense, we had a lot of mutual friends, were looking to celebrate around the same time and it was a lot easier for us to organise something together and share the celebration. So what do you think the ancient cultures would have done? They have a tradition of holding this ‘Easter’ festival, which just happens to coincide with the recognition of Jesus’ death. Of course the traditions ended up merged together.
Does this mean Christianity stole Easter? Don’t be ridiculous.
Victoria Soto is a hero.
Most of us who’ve been anywhere near social media over the past week would know the story, that in the face of another school shooting in the United States, this teacher herded her students into a closet, sheltering them with her own body and lost her life in the process.
Dawn Hochsprung, the Sandy Hook primary school principal and Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist both approached and attempted to turn the shooter around – and were both killed for their efforts.
It’s a heartbreaking tragedy to wake up one morning and discover the news, that 28 people have been killed. When 20 of those people are children, then it tugs at the heart strings even more than hearing about other tragedies like this.
What’s the real tragedy, though, is that we actually have a basis for comparison. Aurora. Virginia Tech. Columbine. The list can go on…
The fact is that these kinds of events happen far too often. I in no way am suggesting that they don’t happen outside the United States. I live in Tasmania, far too close to one of the world’s worst mass shootings at Port Arthur in 1996. I was 14 when it suddenly became really clear that the world’s not a safe place. Even in quiet, isolated Tasmania we were suddenly faced with the realisation that these kinds of things could happen to us.
Just after the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy, a friend of mine posed the question on Facebook of why we always bring up gun control when something like this happens. The fact that there’s an ‘always’ to speak of is a pretty good sign that there’s questions worth asking. However the arguments against are pretty compelling as well.
There’s never a single fix to any problem, especially something like these tragedies that keep occurring. My personal feeling is that we’re witnessing symptoms of deeper societal problems.
We need God in our society. Today, we need him more than ever. Our world is descending deeper and deeper into darkness, and we’re just falling along with it.
When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment in the law was, his response was simple enough.
Jesus said to him, “’You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 22:37-40
Our world today says that you should love yourself. We’re surrounded by statements that encourage this. We should look after number one. You can’t help anyone if you don’t help yourself. Do what feels right to you. Again, the list goes on.
What’s missing is Love. God’s love. The love that we should have – first for God, and then loving our neighbours as ourselves.
Let me ask one thing. Would any of these tragedies have happened if the perpetrators had felt like the people around them loved them completely and unconditionally?
Perhaps one of the most boring parts of the Christmas Story is the first chapter of Matthew. Jesus’ genealogy isn’t exactly the most riveting part of the bible, after all.
As I’ve mentioned before, my inner writer sometimes comes out in these sections of the bible and I start wondering about who these people actually were. What were their stories, did they just live a day-to-day life or what adventures did they face that were untold in the biblical narrative?
There are, though, a couple of interesting things that I notice when I’m reading through this passage. Things that make you wonder why Jesus would have come through this line and not some other list of people. I’ll get back to that in a second, though.
The thing about Jesus’ genealogy is that it helps to identify Him. We aren’t only identified by our current existence, but by our own family history. I’ve been fortunate enough to have my father trace my genealogy back as far as the ancestors who came over to Australia from Scotland. Unfortunately it’s a little harder to get things back further than that, but one day I’m hoping I’ll get to travel over there and discover where the path leads as I go further back.
The thing about that genealogy, though, is that it gives me an identity. It’s not just a historical record and a boring list of names, but these are the men and women who preceded me, and helped to make who I am today. I almost consider myself to be as much Scottish as I do Australian. I have other nationalities in my blood as well, but it’s my internal Scot that lives at the forefront. It’s an identity.
As I read Jesus’ genealogy, though, there are a few people who stand out. We go from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob and then Judah and Tamar. If we go back in history to this story in Genesis, Tamar was originally Judah’s daughter-in-law; after two of his sons died without an heir while married to her, Judah refused to give his next son to her to be married. In turn, Tamar pretended to be a prostitute and deceived Judah into sleeping with her, got knocked up and Judah’s entire betrayal came back to bite him pretty severely!
We’ve got Boaz, who was the son of Rahab the prostitute also. Not an Israelite, she’s a bit of a hero in the history of the nation, being the one who hid the spies in Jerusalem when they first crossed over into the Promised Land. Of everyone in that city, she and her family were the only survivors.
King David’s in there as expected, but the line of inheritance passed down through Solomon. For all the good that King David did in his lifetime, perhaps his most famous sin was to have Uriah killed so that David could have his wife. All of this is hidden away in Jesus’ genealogy.
The thing I find most interesting in all of this, though, is that Jesus’ genealogy concludes with Joseph, the husband of Mary. Jesus’ genealogy is, in spite of his supernatural conception, still traced back through the lineage of the man who would raise him.
I’m currently reading (again) Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. In the early stages of this book, Eldredge speaks of masculinity and how it is something that we, as men, inherit from our fathers. We get our very identity from our fathers.
My bloodline is a massive mix of pretty much all the British nationalities – however I identify most with the Scottish blood. Whether that’s the highest consideration or not, that’s the line I identify with. Why? I believe it’s because that’s the male line. It’s not to say that I don’t value every part of where I’ve come from, but my identity, particularly as a male, comes from that male line.
So is the case with Jesus’ genealogy. We do see in Matthew 3:17 that Jesus’ identity is provided also by God; God claims him as his son and declares that he’s pleased with him, however prior to that, Jesus is still identified through his father.
And that identity isn’t completely perfect. There are heroes in that line, but there are also some pretty deplorable people. Perhaps the most important thing that we can take from reading Jesus’ genealogy is that our family history identifies us, but it doesn’t make us.
The Festive Season
Obviously it’s come to that time of year again, “The Holidays.” When we all stick smiles on our faces and get excited for the upcoming day of presents and food and drinking and family and friends. The Festive Season!
Oh yeah, and it starts from some guy named Jesus who happened to be born that day.
Yes. Yes. I know, Jesus wasn’t actually born on December 25. Not the point.
Something that gripes me these days is this ridiculous level of political correctness that floats about during Christmas – sorry, “The Festive Season.” What also gripes me, though, is that I don’t really know where it comes from. Every Christmas for the past two or three years I’ve seen the flood of posts come up on Facebook and other places saying that there are claims to stop it being called Christmas – those big annoying pictures that come up saying “I’m keeping CHRIST in Christmas! Share if you believe or ignore if you’re a heathen scumbag who should just stay out of it.”
Of course, I’m paraphrasing.
Here’s the thing, though. Even if there doesn’t appear to be any sanctioned, government-led effort to reduce Christmas to “the holidays,” “Hanukwanzmas” or something equally as ridiculous, there is a not-so-public consideration in many people’s minds to remove the religious connotations from the holiday. Even my workmates want to wish people well for the festive season.
Some people seem to feel guilty these days about saying Merry Christmas – not all, but some – because they have to take into consideration the feelings of those people who might be offended by Christmas.
Beyond anything else, that is, to me, the most laughable consideration possible. That someone may be offended by Christmas.
Let me get one thing straight, though. I do not believe that it is a person’s responsibility to censor themselves to prevent offending someone else. If you want to call me names, tell me I’m stupid, criticize me or anything else – that’s your prerogative; just like it’s my prerogative to be offended by it. Whether that means I scream and shout, whether it means I delete and block you on Facebook, or whether it means I call you names in return is my prerogative. Chances are, I’m just going to ignore you.
I reserve the right to say Merry Christmas to you. What you do with that isn’t my problem; this time of the year, the ‘Festive Season’ is just that: Christmas Time. It is in our culture today as a celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ; Christ’s Mass.