Posts Tagged ‘ religion ’

Pope Francis Says Yes To Breastfeeding

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Finally the Catholic Church is getting some sense knocked into it via Pope Francis. It’s a long way from redemption, but this new Pope has been nothing short of impressive. On Sunday he baptized a bunch of babies and told the moms to feel free to breastfeed. In.The.Church. That’s a remarkable statement; especially considering the church bans women and gays (allegedly) from the priesthood and has too many settlements to count for child molestation by priests. Nevertheless, progress is progress. Or, as my late alcoholic mother would say when reciting AA doctrine, “Progress not perfection.”

I think Joe, my guest blogger, should tell his church to take a page from this Pope’s rulebook. In Joe’s church, toddlers are virtually banned from Mass. I’m sure moms would be kicked out for any boob action (I’m still confused as to why you go to that crazy place, Joe. But I’m also glad because your posts on it are beyond hilarious.)

So for the Pope and the members of the Catholic Church, I say keep moving forward. You may actually get out of the dark ages in Francis’ reign.

It’s probably pretty clear by now that I’m not Catholic. I wouldn’t push religion on anyone. But I do wish the Muslim country of Afghanistan could hear the Pope’s message. Or have one of their imams embrace it.  The headlines from the war-torn country last week were heartwrenching. There is a crisis of malnutrition, mostly in children and babies. Doctors are baffled. But one strong theory is that with the conservative Muslim culture so ingrained in the psyche–to the point where if you don’t follow the doctrine you could be killed–mothers aren’t breastfeeding their babies. I mean, it’s baffling. And this certainly isn’t the only country. There are plenty of places where there is a stigma to breastfeeding even when it means the difference between life and death. Hell, even in the first world country of England, Hollie McNish became an overnight sensation with her video poem, Embarrassed. 

Women: if there is a gospel we need to spread, it is the one the National Health Service in the UK coined (ironic given the above video from McNish), The Breast Is Best. Granted there is controversy even with that, but the bottom line is, I don’t care how it happens or what country coins what slogan. If women across the world were proud to provide food to their babies via their breasts, there would be a lot less death, heartache, suffering. Not to mention billions spent in aid to help babies survive, mostly against the odds.

Here’s an excerpt from the article in the New York Times in regards to the Afghanistan article:

Nearly every potential lifeline is strained or broken here. Efforts to educate people about nutrition and health care are often stymied by conservative traditions that cloister women away from anyone outside the family. 

In a country where access to clean water is difficult, and most milk is powdered, that is often a recipe for diarrhea and other conditions that can worsen malnutrition…Ahmed Wali, the 2-year-old Bost Hospital patient with kwashiorkor, is the ninth of 10 children of his mother, Baka Bebi, who is in her mid-30s. She weaned him onto powdered milk mixed with stream water as soon as she could.

 So while the outlook from Pope Francis should be celebrated and embraced, and we can hope for change….

“Today the choir will sing but the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise. Some will cry because they are not comfortable or because they are hungry,” he said in a familiar, relaxed tone to the parents.–Yahoo New Service

There is still preventable tragedy on a large scale that needs to happen:

Ahmed, at just 3 months old, looks bigger than his emaciated brother Mohammad, who is a year and a half and weighs 10 pounds…

“The main cause of malnutrition in Afghanistan is lack of breast feeding,” he said. “They see beautiful pictures of milk cartons, and they think it’s better.”New York Times


Pope baptizing via 10News/CTV

Malnourish pics of baby via The Bronx Papers 

Malnourish pics of children via Shutterstock and Gary Yim

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How To Teach Kids About Religion?

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

I decided to take Fia to church on Sunday. This, after a recent vacation to Mammoth, California where we visited an old ghost town.

Me: “Fia, let’s go look at the old church.”

Her: “Mama, what’s church?”

Cue brakes screeching to a halt. Uh-Oh.

Phil’s father is an Episcopalian Priest. He baptized both our kids. His mom is the epitome of a loving, Christian woman. “Rev and Bev” we call them. Part of the deal in baptizing, besides tradition, is to raise them “in the faith.” However, neither Phil nor I are particularly religious. I would call us more spiritual, even though we both grew up going to Sunday School (and when my family was falling apart in the 9th grade, I briefly became a born-again Pentecostal. Yep. Not kidding).  Phil’s experience–which included family time, church picnics and “preacher kid” mischief–was far different than mine.

My parents would pull up in a big cargo van that my mom used for her plant business. They’d open the side door and we four kids would come tumbling out. My adopted brother Carter would bounce in with his huge black Afro and my sister Tanya would follow with her neatly woven cornrows. Kelly, my biological brother, and I would lead the way.

“Come on you guys, we are going to be late!” I’d say, glad to be the older sibling/ring leader. We were a motley crew, no doubt.

My parents would slam the door and shout, “See you in an hour!” and go tearing off. My mother probably went and got high. My father probably went and made charts (we had a sign-in and sign-out chart growing up. Um, yes.).

I didn’t care about the drive-through drop off and I still don’t. In fact, in many ways, I get it. Woo hoo, an hour of free time! No babysitter, no kids. Where I differ from my parents (in addition to the 99% of things they did in child-rearing) is that I’m way too paranoid to ever leave my kids like that. Even when Fia is 8 or 9. No way, no how.

Not only would I not leave her at church alone, I wouldn’t leave her in Sunday School, even if I was at the church attending the main service.  I’m much too paranoid; especially after my “Stranger Danger” post and the warning many of you gave me about “tricky people.”

But here’s where I’m grateful for my religious education: I know the stories. I know a whale swallowed Jonah and Daniel got thrown into a lions’ den. I know the implications and the message behind those stories.  Many of the tales/allegories are cultural references too, and I think it’s important to know them. And no matter whom you worship–AllahBuddhaJesus–the common thread, at its core–is at least supposed to be about compassion, kindness and being a good person. Those are not bad things to teach your kid. One of my issues though, is I feel like I do that regardless. Must I take them to church every Sunday to learn this? Especially because I feel organized religion–also at its core–is deeply flawed?

I won’t go into my issues or grievances. This isn’t about what you believe. It’s about how to teach what you know to your kids without it feeling hypocritical or obligatory.

Back to my church excursion with Fia. On the way there I explained to her we were going to a church to learn about Jesus. Bev sent her the book, “Jesus Loves Me.” Fia knows all the words, partially because I’ve sang her (and Emmett) that song since birth, substituting “Jesus” for “Mama” and “for the bible tells us so” to “for she always tells you so,” etc.

I told her Jesus was a kind person who helped the blind see, the crippled walk and the poor eat. She asked where he was. Instead of saying, “in all of us” or some proper church response, I didn’t think it through. I got distracted because I was driving.

“Well, he died.”

“How did he die?”

“Some bad men killed him.”

Silence, then:

“Oh, oh, I know!” she piped up in earnest. “He was smushed and turned into soup!”

(Pause.) (Pause again.) (Pause more.)

“Well, not exactly…”

And so it goes. My search for answers. To be continued…


Pic of church via Shutterstock



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Emmett’s Baptism

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Not exactly Fia Friday, but she was surely a part of our big event in Wisconsin last week. As was Phil’s entire extended family.

I consider myself more spiritual than religious, but regardless of who/what one worships, it’s a touching event to behold. It was an honor and privilege to stand by my boy as the holy water flowed.

Phil’s dad is an Episcopalian priest (“The Rev” above) and has baptized all of his children and grandchildren. The dress that all the babies wear (boys or girls) has been in their family for 65 years. And even though Em looked like a girl in it, he grunted like the little magical boy he is. Bless You, Baby. Namaste.


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